CRIME BOSS Martin Cahill was killed instantly when a professional hitman pumped four bullets into his body at point-blank range, Dublin City Coroner's Court heard yesterday.
Eyewitnesses told how `The General' was gunned-down as the assassin walked alongside his car, firing through the driver's window at Charleston Road, Ranelagh on August 18, 1994.
Det Insp Anthony Brislane, who led the investigation into the murder, described the gunman as ``an experienced cool and dedicated killer,'' prepared to kill in daylight and expose his face.
Witness John Fagan, who was walking along Charleston Road, revealed how he came face to face with the killer. Mr Fagan described how the gunman casually walked around him and towards a getaway motorbike after the killing.
Mr Cahill (46), of Swan Grove, Rathmines, was pronounced dead at the wheel of his car at the junction of Oxford Road and Charleston Road, Ranelagh at 4.12pm. He had suffered four gunshot wounds to the head, chest, right elbow and left knee. He was less than 350 yards from his home when he died.
The inquest heard Mr Cahill was shot by a single gunman who was waiting at the junction wearing a yellow reflective vest and holding a clipboard as Mr Cahill's black Renault 5 van approached.
The man walked to the car as it stopped at the junction, fired one shot through the driver's window and another four shots as the car drifted across Charleston road and into a garden railings. Mr Cahill was hit by four of the five bullets, causing 11 entry and exit wounds. The gunman made his getaway towards Rathmines on a waiting stolen Kawasaki motorbike bearing false numbers plates. This was later found abandoned at Sandyford Close.
The jury of seven men and one women returned a verdict of unlawful killing.
Insp Brislane of Rathmines station said investigations had failed to identify either the gunman or driver of the motorbike. He added that the weapon has not been found.
Frances Cahill identified the body of her husband at the City Morgue to Garda Insp Enda Walsh. Mrs Cahill and a sister of the deceased, Una Cahill, were present in court but made no comment.
Mr Fagan said he noticed a man standing on the footpath at Oxford Road shortly before the shooting. He described the man as 5 ft 6 ins in height, between 30 and 40-years-old and wearing a bright yellow sleeveless jacket.
Mr Fagan said he heard a loud bang and then he saw the gunman walk quickly across road, following the car as it collided gently with the railings at 45 Charleston Road. He said the man was holding a large handgun in his right hand and the weapon was pointed through the driver's window and firing.
``When the car stopped at the railings he fired three or four more shots into the car. He was practically in front of me. I could not believe it happened in front of me,'' said Mr Fagan.
Hugh Roberts, who was driving down Oxford Road towards Charleston Road behind Mr Cahill's car, said he saw a man wearing a reflective vest and gloves approach Mr Chaill's car as it stopped at the junction.
Mr Roberts said he heard a loud crack and, as the car rolled forward out on Charlestown Road, he saw the man put his hand in through the window and he heard a further four shots. He saw what appeared to be a silver Magnum handgun as the man turned away from the car and walked towards a waiting motorbike, which sped off towards Belgrave Square.
Another witness, Raymond Beggan, not present in court, said he saw a man waiting on the footpath with his right hand inside his coat and across his chest. He said he heard a loud bang and saw the gunman walk towards a waiting motorbike, six feet from the Renault car.
Acting State Pathologist Dr Declan Gilsen, who carried out a post-mortem,concluded Mr Cahill was killed instantly when one of the bullets lacerated the brain stem where it meets the spine.