Witness 'thought she saw body slumped over steering wheel in burning car', double murder trial hears
A murder trial has heard from a witness, who saw what she thought was a body slumped over the steering wheel of a burning car six years ago.
Tighearna Reynolds was giving evidence to the Central Criminal Court in Tuesday in the trial of a 34-year-old Dubliner, charged with murdering two ‘small-time criminals’ in Co Louth.
Jason O’Driscoll, with an address at Richmond Avenue, Fairview is accused of murdering fellow Dubliners 31-year-old Anthony Burnett and 25-year-old Joseph Redmond on March 7th, 2012. He has pleaded not guilty to both charges.
The jury has been told that it will be asked to use circumstantial evidence to convict him.
Ms Reynolds told Alexander Owens SC, prosecuting, that a friend was dropping her home to Ravensdale, near Dundalk that night, when they came upon a car on fire.
“As we approached Ravensdale Park, I saw a glow in the distance, by the little layby area,” she testified. “Then I noticed the flames.”
She said that the fire was contained to the inside at that stage and that she called the fire brigade at 10.52pm.
“She said that, by the time the fire brigade arrived 10 minutes later, the flames were coming out of the car and she heard a couple of loud noises or explosions.
“What I thought I saw was a body slumped over the steering wheel, but Lukasz assured me that it was just the seat,” she explained.
Mr Owens had earlier told the jury that the circumstantial evidence in the case was sufficient to establish that Mr O’Driscoll was guilty of the two murders.
He told the jurors that they were entitled to draw inferences from the evidence and that the State planned to establish only one reasonable and rational conclusion, that he was guilty.
“It’s the prosecution case that he was a knowing participant present at the murder,” he said in his opening speech, adding that he was ‘part of a murder operation’.
“The prosecution is not necessarily proving that Mr O’Driscoll shot the gun, but that's not necessary,” he explained. “It’s enough for you to be satisfied beyond doubt that he was a knowing participant in the murder and that he was there.”
He said that the two deceased had grown up in the Ballybough area of Dublin and were still living there when they died. He said they had little or no knowledge of Newry or the Ravendale areas.
“They were small-time criminals, involved in burglaries and stealing motor cars,” he explained.
He said that ‘things got going’ around 4am on that date when they took a fairly new black Golf GTI from outside a house in Sandymount. He said that they had tried to sell it throughout the day and had headed north towards Dundalk and Newry that night.
“The prosecution case is that they were intending to meet Jason O’Driscoll and that, some time after 10.46pm and some time before 10.51, during this short time, they did meet him,” he said.
He suggested that this ‘interchange’ had taken place in a car park at Ravensdale.
He said the jury would hear that two bodies found in the burning car soon afterwards were those of the deceased.
“They were shot through the head with a pistol,” he said.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Michael White and a jury of five women and seven men.
It’s expected to last up to five weeks.