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Shot that killed Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe fired from six or seven feet away, expert tells court

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Murdered: Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was shot dead

Murdered: Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was shot dead

Murdered: Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was shot dead

THE shot which killed Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was fired from a distance of six or seven feet, a firearms expert has told the Central Criminal Court.

The jury in the trial of Aaron Brady (28), accused of the capital murder of the detective, was also shown a shotgun which a garda ballistics specialist said is similar to the firearm used in the fatal shooting.

Det Gda Seamus O'Donnell, of the Ballistic Section, said that he carried out a number of examinations of items recovered from the scene at Lordship credit union.

This included a green shotgun cartridge found near Det Gda Donohoe's body which he said was made by a Spanish ammunition manufacturer and was normally used to shoot various types of birds or small animals.

The firearms specialist told the 15-person jury that he also carried out test shots to determine the range from which the fatal shot which killed the detective was fired at.

These tests, the court heard, were carried out at the indoor firing range of the Ballistics Section based in Garda Headquarters.

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Aaron Brady (pictured) denies killing Det Gda Adrian Donohoe

Aaron Brady (pictured) denies killing Det Gda Adrian Donohoe

The witness was giving evidence in the trial of Aaron Brady who denies the murder of Adrian Donohoe, who was then a member of An Garda Siochana acting in the course of his duty, at the Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Co Louth, on January 25, 2013.

Mr Brady, of New Road in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, also denies robbery of approximately €7,000 in cash and assorted cheques from Mr Pat Bellew at the same location on the same date.

Det Gda O'Donnell said that, having reviewed material including post mortem images of Det Gda Donohoe, established that the shot impact pattern of the wound to his right eye measured approximately 60mm in diameter.

The witness said he took a number of test shots at an A4 folder from various distances between 8 feet and 4 feet.

He told the court that a gunshot from 7 feet gave a shot impact pattern of 64mm, while firing the weapon from a distance of 6 feet gave a shot spread pattern of 52mm.

The witness agreed with prosecuting counsel Brendan Grehan SC that, based on these tests, Det Gda Donohoe was struck between 6 feet and 7 feet from the tip of the shotgun muzzle.

These tests, he told the court, were carried out with a 12 gauge Beretta model semi-automatic shotgun, which he said in his opinion was similar to the weapon which fired the fatal shot at Det Gda Donohoe.

A 12 gauge Beretta semi-automatic shotgun was then produced in court and made safe by Det Gda O'Donnell, before being shown to the jury.

The witness agreed with Mr Grehan that the firearm was being used for illustrative purposes and was not the gun used at the Lordship credit union.

The court previously heard that the shotgun used in the killing of Det Gda Donohoe has not been recovered.

Det Gda O'Donnell will continuing giving evidence tomorrow morning.

Earlier the court heard from a number of PSNI police officers who carried out searches in south Armagh in the days after the shooting.

PSNI constable Andy Moore gave evidence that he was on patrol with the district support unit covering south Armagh on January 27, 2013.

Constable Moore said that morning he was made aware of what had happened in Lordship two days previous.

The witness told the court that he was on patrol covering areas that the vehicle may have passed through.

At around 10am he drove on to Cumsons Road, off Chalybeate Road, and became aware of a burnt out vehicle on the right hand side of the road.

He said he believed it to be a Volkswagen Passat but that it had "been completely burnt out and reversed into a laneway".

Constable Moore told Lorcan Staines SC, prosecuting, that the road leading towards the burnt out vehicle "isn't great" but that after a bend it "deteriorates, it gets a lot worse".

He said he alerted his colleagues and opened up a Serious Crime Scene Log which the court heard is used in any serious incident to record actions by police officers and other resources.

Constable Chris Chain said he was tasked with the PSNI tactical support group tasked with carrying out a planned search the following day after the car was discovered.

He told the court that in a search around the car at 12.50pm he found one Harp lager tin and placed it in an evidence bag.

Five minutes later he discovered a lighter and also placed it into an evidence bag.
Later Constable Chain, who was wearing a full forensic suit, was directed towards and seized what was described as "carry bag of assorted items" in the search site.

In cross examination, the witness told defence counsel Justin McQuade BL that he could not recall what was in the bag and that it was logged as a "bag with assorted items".

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