Monday 22 January 2018

Girlfriend’s life saved because gangland gun was missing a bullet, court told

Jessica Magee

GARDAI investigating the fatal shooting of a father-of-two in Tallaght three years ago say it was "most likely" that the victim's girlfriend's life was saved because the murder weapon had been missing a bullet.

Seamus 'Shay' O'Byrne (27) was fatally wounded when he was shot five times in front of his partner and child in the driveway of his home at Tymon Park North in Tallaght on March 13th, 2009.

One of the bullets also hit the victim's partner, Sharon Rattigan, in the leg, as she wrestled the revolver from a hooded gunman.

Garrett O'Brien (35) of Clover Hill, Bray, County Wicklow has pleaded not guilty to murder, and also denies a second charge of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life on the same date.

On the sixth day of his trial at the Central Criminal Court, the jury heard that the alleged murder weapon was a 9mm Webley and Scott revolver, containing five spent Cascade cartridges out of a possible six.

Detective Garda Alan Curry told the court that one live round of ammunition matching those used in the revolver was found in a car involved in the shooting.

When asked by Feargal Kavanagh SC, defending, whether Ms Rattigan's life had probably been saved because of the fact that this sixth round of ammunition was lost, the garda replied “most likely”.

Ballistics expert Detective Garda Jeannette O'Neill told the jury that she arrived at the murder scene to find the dead man lying face down on the driveway of his house, with three mobile phones in his jacket pocket and blood pooling from his upper torso.

She said Mr O'Byrne's gunshot wounds were consistent with the Webley and Scott revolver found sitting on the front driver seat of a Seat Toledo parked in the driveway.

She told the jury that the revolver bore proof marks to show that it had been de-activated in the UK in 2004 to ensure that it wouldn't fire again, but had since been re-activated and the firing-pin had been rebuilt.

“The serial number of the gun had been scratched off, it was a clear attempt to disguise its identity,” she said.

The jury heard that the unspent bullet, which was the same make and model as those used in the Webley and Scott revolver, was found in the passenger door pocket of a blue Volkswagon Passat believed to have been involved in the shooting.

Gardaí also found two different makes of black gloves near the murder scene, one in a garden and one stuffed into a drain, which tested positive for gunshot residue.

It is the prosecution's case that Garrett O'Brien was part of a gang which, for several days before the shooting, had plotted to shoot Mr O'Byrne at his home.

The trial continues before Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley and a jury of eight men and four women.

It is expected to last a further month.

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