Friday 15 December 2017

Pigeon racing enthusiast suffered 'rapid death' after he was hit by 18 bullets, court hears

The scene of the shooting, inset, Keith Walker
The scene of the shooting, inset, Keith Walker

A pigeon racing enthusiast would have suffered a rapid death after he was hit by two bullets to the head, a pathologist has said.

State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy said that Keith Walker was struck by 18 bullets, mostly on the left side of his body.

Prof Cassidy was giving evidence in the trial of Christopher McDonald (34) for the murder of 36-year-old Keith Walker on June 12, 2015.

Mr McDonald, from the East Wall area in Dublin 1, has pleaded not guilty to killing Mr Walker outside the Blanchardstown Pigeon Racing Club, Shelerin Road in Clonsilla.

It is the prosecution case that Mr McDonald disguised himself as a woman and shot Mr Walker 18 times with a sub machine gun.

Prof Cassidy said the cause of Mr Walker’s death was multiple gunshot wounds to his head and upper body, with contributing factors the gunshot wounds to his limbs.

Prof Cassidy said Mr Walker was struck by a total of 18 bullets, mostly on the left side of his body.  She said 17 of the bullets penetrated the body, and 12 of them exited it.

Prof Cassidy said that two of the bullets struck the left side of the dead man’s head, around the left ear, penetrated the brain and exited through the forehead.

The pathologist said the deceased was struck by seven bullets around the left shoulder area. Three bullets struck him around the left loin area, four over the left hip and butt area, one on the right inner buttock and once on the left forearm.

Prof Cassidy said Mr Walker suffered internal injuries to his brain, heart, right lung, left kidney, spleen, bowel, his left thigh bone and his aorta, the main blood vessel of the body.

The head wounds would have resulted in the “rapid death” of Mr Walker, the jury heard.

Prof Cassidy also said the bullet wounds were consistent with a “rapid burst of gun fire”.

Detective Garda Jean McDonnell said she and Garda David Howard received a call about a shooting about 6.05pm, and they’d arrived at the scene by 6.07pm. She said they were the first on the scene.

She said there was a man lying on his back, outside the door. She checked for vital signs, but he had no pulse. There was a lot of blood at the back of his head and there was a bullet wound in the centre of his head.

Gda McDonnell said the scene was “chaotic” and there was “in excess of 50 people, maybe 70” there.

She said she was aware that people had asked if they could move their cars, because they had pigeons in them, but she was not aware of any cars being moved.

In cross examination, she also said she was aware that someone had gone into the pigeon club to feed and water the birds but she did not know who that person was or when it happened.

In his evidence, Detective Garda David O’Leary from the Ballistics Section said he attended a laneway off Sheepmore Crescent on June 16, 2015.

He removed a sub machine gun which had six live rounds in the magazine, as well as a black wig and a brown furry handbag.

Gda O’Leary said the Polish-made gun was capable of being fired in semi-automatic or fully automatic mode. The serial number on the gun had been erased.

Gda O’Leary said he compared the cartridge cases found at the scene at the pigeon club with cartridges he test fired from the gun found at Sheepmore Crescent and it was his opinion that they were “all discharged from the same firearm”.

Earlier, Jason O’Connor’s statement to gardai was read into evidence by prosecution lawyer Denis Vaughan Buckley SC.

Mr O’Connor and Mr Walker were friends, and had met through their mutual interest in racing pigeons.

Mr O’Connor said he had known Keith Walker for two years. They became friends after he loaned Mr Walker a female pigeon, or hen, and he’d successfully bred off that bird.

Mr O’Connor said he had been living in Clondalkin, but had moved back to Blanchardstown with his partner the previous year.

He said he kept up his friendship with Mr Walker, and Keith would regularly come to his house and help him with his birds.

Mr O’Connor said here was a pigeon race in Mallow in Cork and a second one in Penzance in Cornwall that weekend, and Keith had come over to help him with his birds.

He said Mr Walker wasn’t racing any birds that weekend.

The pair had planned to travel to Manchester on the Saturday to see a man about buying pigeons.

Mr O’Connor told gardai that Keith and his son arrived at his house and he helped him to load the birds into his (Mr O’Connor) partner’s car.

Keith then drove the car, a black Toyota Avensis, over to the pigeon club.

Mr O’Connor said he couldn’t drive because he was banned for 10 years at the time.

He also told gardai he didn’t go to the pigeon club with Mr Walker because he was “bo**ix tired”. He said he’d gotten no sleep the previous night because he had been “fighting with my mott”, who was on holidays in Spain.

Mr O’Connor said he rang Keith and then text him to tell him what birds to enter into the competitions. However, there was no response from him and when he heard an ambulance he started to get worried.

He rang another friend who told him Mr Walker was dead.

Mr O’Connor described Keith as “a decent fella”, saying his only interest was in his pigeons.

He told gardai he was “still in shock” and “totally devastated”

Mr O’Connor also told gardai they could download any CCTV footage they needed from his home.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy

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