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Sunset House murder defendant would have to be 'extremely unlucky' man if he's innocent, court hears

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Michael Barr was shot dead at the Sunset House pub in 2016

Michael Barr was shot dead at the Sunset House pub in 2016

Michael Barr was shot dead at the Sunset House pub in 2016

The prosecution in the case of a man accused of the murder of Michael Barr at the Sunset House pub today closed its case by saying that the defendant would have to be an "extremely unlucky" man if he was not involved in the killing.

Liverpool native David Hunter, with an address at Du Cane Road, White City, London, is pleading not guilty before the Special Criminal Court to the murder of Mr Barr (35) at the pub in Summerhill in Dublin on the night of April 25, 2016.

Tyrone native Mr Barr was shot seven times - five times in the head - after two men wearing masks entered the pub after 9pm.

Giving his closing speech, Mr Dominic McGinn SC, for the State, said that "there could be no reasonable doubt" of Mr Hunter's involvement unless the court was to believe that he had been "extremely unlucky with all of these coincidences" that had been offered in his defence.

Mr McGinn told Mr Justice Alexander Owens, presiding, that DNA evidence on a ski mask, which had a mixed profile with one 61% contributor, matched the DNA profile taken from a cigarette butt and ear-plugs used and discarded by Mr Hunter when in custody.

Counsel said that ballistics could match the guns used in the murder to those found in an Audi A6 on the Walsh Road in Drumcondra, Dublin 9, shortly after the shooting. The Audi also contained four rubber masks and one ski-mask. Next to the car, which the occupants tried to burn out was a dropped mobile phone.

In a voluntary statement to gardaí, Mr Hunter had said that the ski-mask was his but that he had dropped it in a car driven by another man when he visited Ireland two months before the murder on a car-stealing exercise.

Mr McGinn said that while CCTV evidence was used in the case regarding the Audi, it was "limited how much could be gleaned from it". Counsel said that CCTV would be useful, however, to timing the movement of the vehicle, which was outside The Sunset House for 29 seconds before making its way to Walsh Road.

Mr McGinn said that many conclusions could possibly be drawn in the case but that "all scenarios bar one" pointed to Mr Hunter's guilt and that this one scenario was "inexorably unlikely".

Counsel described the murder as "meticulously-planned" and he noted the discovery of a lock-up on the North Circular Road containing guns, masks, caps and scarves.

He asked why a member of the murder team would use a ski-mask found in a car two months beforehand if brand-new masks, still in their packaging, were available for use from the lock-up.

Mr McGinn referenced four phones used on the night of the murder that gardaí tracked through cell-site data after one of them was secured from the scene of the burning car. Less than an hour after the murder, one of these phones contacted a phone believed to belong to Mr Hunter.

Mr Hunter, who did not give direct evidence, had said in his statement to gardaí that he had taken a call from a man looking to buy a car he was selling on the night.

Mr McGinn said that Mr Hunter admitted that he bought a new phone in Holyhead before he boarded a ferry for Dublin, two days before the killing. The prosecution believes this phone to be Mr Hunter's at the time because of calls received on it by his then-girlfriend.

In the hours before the murder, the prosecution claim, the four Irish phones only call or connect with each other but after the killing one begins calling other numbers, one of which is alleged to be Mr Hunter's phone.

Mr McGinn said that "it is not reasonable in our submission that less than an hour after being involved in a murder that someone would ring up about buying a car and talk for seven minutes".

Counsel also pointed to the unusual travel plans of Mr Hunter in that the accused had said he had sold his car so that he could get to Spain to enroll in a residential rehab facility but had "spent half the value of the car on two tickets".

A second ticket had been booked in the name of 'Tom Wood', about whom, counsel said "we have no explanation" - Mr Wood did not board the flight to Malaga.

Counsel said that it didn't make sense that if Mr Hunter had in two months before the killing, come to Ireland on a "money-making" exercise to steal cars, why did he return to Liverpool the next day when he failed to steal one in his first night in Ireland.

"It doesn't hang with reality," said McGinn.

Counsel added that on the night of the murder,it had been claimed by the defence that Mr Hunter's battery had died and that this period coincided with the use of the four "murder phones".

Mr McGinn said that Mr Hunter had travelled with his girlfriend but the pair were apart around the time of the killing, "so she couldn't say he didn't kill Mr Barr".

Counsel said that a call from Mr Hunter's girlfriend to him at 10.22pm pointed towards the pair not being in each other's company at the time of the murder, which is believed to be at 9.30pm.

"If these are reasonable coincidences, Mr Hunter is extremely unlucky with all these coincidences," concluded Mr McGinn, adding that there could be "no reasonable doubt about David Hunter's involvement" in the murder of Mr Barr.

The three-judge court will hear tomorrow the closing speech from his defence barrister, Ms Roisín Lacey SC.

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