Wednesday 14 November 2018

Witness describes Veronica's murder

DIARMAID Mac DERMOTT

A TRUCK driver told the Special Criminal Court yesterday that he saw the pillion passenger on a motor cycle smash the driver's window of Veronica Guerin's car moments before the journalist was murdered.

A TRUCK driver told the Special Criminal Court yesterday that he saw the pillion passenger on a motor cycle smash the driver's window of Veronica Guerin's car moments before the journalist was murdered.

Mr Michael Dunne said when he went to the car he saw Ms Guerin ``slumped across the seats. Her whole chest was blood and gunshot wounds,'' he added.

Also yesterday Garda Ballistics Expert Detective Sergeant Patrick Ennis said that Ms Guerin was hit by six bullets fired from the same .357 inch Magnum revolver. The Detective Sergeant said the bullets were ``semi wadcutters'' of a type often used in sporting target practice which ``create a neat rounded hole''.

The three judges at the court ruled that 40 statements made by 20 people, including informants, to the gardai were privileged and should not be disclosed to the defence.

It was the second day of the resumed trial of Paul Ward (34), a native of Crumlin, Dublin with an address at Walkinstown Road, Dublin. He has pleaded not guilty to the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin, a 36-year -ld mother of one, at the Naas Road, Clondalkin, Co Dublin on June 26, 1996.

The prosecution has claimed that while Ward was neither the driver of the motorcycle or the passenger who fired the shots that killed Ms Guerin, he was a member of the gang that planned and carried out the killing and he disposed of the murder weapon and the motorcycle afterwards.

When the trial resumed yesterday Mr Justice Barr, presiding, said the court had examined documents relating to 20 people interviewed by gardai investigating the Guerin murder. The documents were either written statements or notes of interviews and privilege had been claimed on the grounds that disclosure would endanger the lives or property of the people concerned.

NO ASSISTANCE

The judge said that the court was satisfied that ``per se the contents of the documents offer no assistance whatsoever to the accused in his defence and are prejudicial to his case.''

The court was further satisfied that the prosecution claim to privilege was ``well founded'' and the documents ought not to be disclosed.

The judge added that if it emerged that the contents of any of the documents might be helpful to the accused, the court would consider the document again.

A Co Kildare truck driver, Mr Michael Dunne, said in evidence that he was driving his truck along the Naas Road on June 26, 1996, and was stopped at traffic lights at the Green Isle Hotel. He was four or five cars behind a red Opel Calibra and he had his radio switched on. Mr Dunne said he saw a motorcycle come up along the driver's side of the red car while they were stopped at the traffic lights.

There were two people on the motorcycle, both wearing helmets and leather gear. One of them wore a black leather jacket and blue jeans. Mr Dunne said the pillion passenger took something out of his jacket and broke the driver's window and put it back inside his jacket and the motorcycle then sped off. Mr Dunne said he got out of his truck and heard people saying a woman had been shot.

He said he saw Veronica Guerin ``just slumped across the seats, her whole chest was blood and gunshot wounds.''

Detective Sergeant Patrick Ennis, of the Ballistics Section at the Garda Technical Bureau, said he arrived at the scene of the fatal shooting at 2.15 pm on June 26, 1996. He saw Veronica Guerin's body in the car. The upper body, arms and hands were heavily bloodstained as were the seats.

Her lower left arm was entangled with the power lead of the car's mobile phone and the phone was switched on. The button for the last number redial had been hit, he added. He removed a bullet from the floor of the car between Ms Guerin's feet and from other areas of the car. One bullet had passed through the passenger seat and the passenger door, causing a dent in the outside of the car.

RECOVERED BULLETS

Det Sgt Ennis said he attended the post mortem carried out on Ms Guerin's body by State Pathologist Dr John Harbison and recovered bullets taken from her left collar bone and right collar bone.

He said he recovered six bullets in all, some of which were damaged, and was able to plot the trajectory of three of the bullets. He said the shots entered through the driver's window at an angle of 40 to 45 degrees with the window and 75 degrees from the rear.

Witness said that if someone was sitting at the driver's door, the bullets would have gone through them.

Det Sgt Ennis said he had examined guns and ammunition found in a grave at a Jewish cemetery at Oldcourt Road in Tallaght. There were five semi automatic pistols with silencers, a Sten submachine gun and a machine pistol with a silencer and several hundred rounds of assorted ammunition.

He also examined a number of rounds of .357 inch Magnum ammunition found at the cemetery and found they were similar in calibre, had a similar jacket and were similar ``semi wadcutters'' to the bullets he had recovered from the Guerin shooting.

The trial continues today.

* The Special Criminal Court yesterday fixed June 2 next year as the trial date for Dublin man Brian Meehan (33) of no fixed abode and formerly of Clifton Court, Dublin, and Stanaway Road, Crumlin, Dublin, who is accused of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996.

State counsel Mr Eamonn Leahy SC said there were 160 witnesses and the trial was expected to last four weeks. Meehan was remanded in custody.

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