Wednesday 24 January 2018

Trial of man accused of fatal shooting opens in Central Criminal Court

Nicola Donnolly

THE trial of a Co Wicklow man accused of the fatal shooting of a father-of-two in front of his partner and young son three years ago has opened at the Central Criminal Court.

Garrett O'Brien (35) of Clover Hill in Bray has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 27-year-old Seamus 'Shay' O'Byrne on March 13, 2009 at Tymon North Park in Tallaght. He has also pleaded not guilty to a second charge of possession of a firearm with the intent to endanger life on the same date.

Opening the trial prosecuting counsel Mr Alexander Owens, SC, told the jury they will hear evidence that the deceased and his partner Sharon Rattigan, who have two young children together, were preparing to head out for the night.

At around 8.15pm, while Ms Rattigan was placing her young child into the car to bring to a babysitter, a lone man dressed in a dark tracksuit with the hood pulled up, appeared at the front of the house and discharged a number of shots at Mr O'Byrne while he was closing the front door.

He said evidence will be given that Mr O'Byrne fell to the ground and Ms Rattigan then accosted the gun man. After a struggle ensued, Ms Rattigan received a flesh wound when a final bullet was discharged from the gun, which also hit Mr O'Byrne.

Mr Owens told the jury of eight men and four women they will hear evidence that Ms Rattigan and the gun man ended up in a next door neighbour's garden still struggling with each other and during the struggle the gun man's hoodie came off. Evidence will be given that Ms Rattigan managed to take the gun off him and refused to give it back. He jumped up and ran off towards Tymon North Gardens.

The court also heard the gunman dropped two items during the struggle – a full can of Red Bull bought in the Spar shop in Ballymount and a black Nokia mobile phone, which the prosecution says belonged to the accused Garrett O'Brien. Mr Owens said the items will be “significant pieces of evidence.”

He said it is the prosecution's case that on the day prior to, and on the day of the shooting, O'Brien travelled from Bray to Dublin in a 93MH registered Nissan Micra and the car was picked up by Garda speed cameras on the Naas Road.

He said the jury will be shown CCTV footage of car movements connected to the shooting at the Red Cow Moran Hotel car park in the days leading to the shooting which the prosecution will argue that the car park was a rendez-vous point for the gang plotting the shooting.

He said it is the prosecution's case that after the shooting, Mr O'Brien shaved his head and returned to the scene in a Nissan Micra car in an attempt to retrieve the mobile phone and dispose of the car.

The trial, which is continuing before Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley, is expected to last five weeks.

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