Monday 18 November 2019

Phone analyst describes tracking device on Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan’s car - murder trial

Victim Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan pictured with long-time friend Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch
Victim Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan pictured with long-time friend Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch

Alison O’Riordan

A phone analyst has described the workings of a tracking device which the prosecution claim was put under Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan’s car weeks before he was shot dead outside his Dublin home.

Mr Kirwan (62) was sitting in his car at St Ronan’s Drive, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 on December 22, 2016 when a gunman shot him six times with a Makarov handgun which was later recovered at the scene.

The deceased's partner, Bernadette Roe, was in the passenger seat of his Ford Mondeo at the time of the attack. They had just returned from a Christmas lunch in Crumlin with Ms Roe’s daughter.

Jason Keating (27), of Lower Main Street, Rush, Co Dublin has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Kirwan.

Sergeant Damien Gannon gave evidence yesterday that he found a 'Gotek 7' electronic tracking device underneath Mr Kirwan’s car on December 23. It was covered in black rubber and was attached to the undercarriage of the vehicle with two very strong magnets, he said.

James Kennedy, attached to the telecommunications section of An Garda Siochana, gave evidence today that his duties include examining mobile phone devices using software systems.

Mr Kennedy told prosecution counsel Paul Greene SC that he was given the ‘Gotek 7’ tracking device from Sgt Gannon on January 5, 2017. The device had a SIM card in it which came from Holland.

The witness explained to the court that tracking devices are normally “stuck under the chassis" of cars as they have very strong magnets.

Mr Kennedy testified that he examined the device which is powered by an internal battery but he was unable to decode the information using his software tools. He was able to read the SIM card but there was no evidential information on it.

He had to get a “log-on” identification in the form of an "internet link", the court heard, in order to download the online movements of the tracking device.

The tracker uses a GPS positioning system to work out one's location, he said and it then uploads information to a web server. Notifications can be set on the ‘user interface’ to be alerted when the device is moving, he added.

Mr Kennedy explained that the device can be managed remotely saying, “one can enable it, disable it and have three contact numbers saved on it so when the device moves that information is sent to those three mobile numbers.”

The witness agreed with Mr Greene that he did not retrieve any location data from the internal memory of the device.

Under cross-examination by Michael Bowman SC, defending, Mr Kennedy agreed these devices can also be deployed on taxi fleets when they are leased out and are not just used for “nefarious” purposes.

The witness also agreed with Mr Bowman that he did not “interrogate” the information as this task was passed onto someone else.

In his opening address, Mr Greene told the three-judge court that the murder of Mr Kirwan arose from a "notorious feud" between two criminal factions but the deceased had no connection with either side.

The trial continues this afternoon before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Sinead Ni Chualachain and Judge Cormac Dunne.

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