Gunshot residue found in suspected hitman's underpants
THE trial of a suspected gunman has heard that firearms residue was found in his underwear and on both of his hands within hours of a shooting two years ago.
Shane Mason (30), of Seán Heuston Place in Limerick, denies shooting Daniel Philips (20) in the head and chest on May 24th, 2010 at St John's Square in the city.
Mason has pleaded not guilty to four charges of attempted murder, causing serious harm and possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to kill Mr Philips.
Mr Philips had been driving his car through St John's Square shortly before 9.30pm on the night in question when he was shot several times, causing bullets to be lodged in his skull and between his heart and liver.
He spent over a month in a coma and more than six months in hospitals and rehabilitation centres, but doctors say he has since made a remarkable recovery.
Shane Mason was arrested about an hour after the shooting as he left his girlfriend's apartment complex at nearby Brennan's Row, wearing a bullet-proof vest over his clothes.
Forensic evidence heard in court revealed that metallic gunshot residue was found on swabs taken from both of Shane Mason's hands a few hours after shooting, and from the waistband of his navy underpants.
Dr Thomas Hannigan from the State Forensic Laboratory told the jury that these findings provided “extremely strong support” to the conclusion that the accused had recently been in contact with a discharged gun.
A number of eye-witnesses have described seeing the gunman holding the pistol with both hands as he fired several shots, before tucking the weapon into the front of his tracksuit bottoms and fleeing the scene.
The court heard that seven spent cartridge casings were recovered at St John's Square, while several more casings were also found at Brennan's Row, where Mason was arrested.
Dr Hannigan said the gunshot powder from the spent shells at the scene of the shooting and the scene of the arrest was “indistinguishable” from the residue found on Mason's person.
No weapon was recovered, but gardaí say the spent shells had been fired from a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol.
The trial continues tomorrow at the Central Criminal Court before Judge Garret Sheehan and a jury of seven men and five women.
It's expected to conclude some time next week.