Tuesday 16 January 2018

Two Dublin men are found guilty of shooting Peter Butterly

Two Dublin men have been found guilty at the Special Criminal Court of ​ the "callous, brutal and premeditated murder" of dissident republican Peter Butterly four years ago.

Mr Butterly (35) was shot dead on March 6th, 2013 outside The Huntsman Inn, Gormanston, Co Meath in what the court described as an "ambush" ​.

​ Four men were originally charged with the shooting. One of the men, David Cullen, subsequently turned State witness, and his murder charge was dropped.

The fourth man, Dean Evans (24) of Grange Park Rise, Raheny, Dublin failed to turn up for the trial, and was not located by gardai.

The non-jury court proceeded with the trial of his two co-accused in Mr Evans' absence.

Edward McGrath (35), of Land Dale Lawns, Springfield, Tallaght and Sharif Kelly (47), of Pinewood Green Road, Balbriggan had both denied the murder. McGrath was also found guilty of firearms offences dating from the same occasion.

It was the second trial of McGrath and Kelly. The first trial collapsed in January 2015 after 55 days.

Delivering judgement, presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt ​described the murder as "callous, brutal and premeditated," with both men "performing their assigned roles".

During the 31-day trial the court heard evidence that the car used in the shooting, a stolen silver Toyota Corolla, was being watched by members of the National Surveillance Unit.

Gardai observed the Corolla drive past the Huntsman Inn before making a U-turn and returning to the pub, entering ​the​ ​ ​ carpark.

The driver, McGrath, was wearing a black wig. Deans Evans was "crouched" in the back seat, behind McGrath. The window was rolled down. Witnesses then reported hearing gunshots.

One woman, who lived opposite the pub, saw a man holding a small black handgun. A student waiting at a nearby bus-stop saw two people sprinting away from a car. One was chasing the other. The second man raised an arm and shot the first man.

The court was satisfied, Mr Justice Hunt said, that Mr Butterly was "shot in the carpark by means of a gun fired by Dean Evans".

Mr Evans, he added, was driven to and from the scene by McGrath.

"It was an ambush by people who expected Mr Butterly would be present in the carpark," he said, adding that the shooting had required a "considerable degree of forethought".

The court heard firearms residue found on Mr Evan's sweater showed "strong support" for the view that he shot Mr Butterly.

Firearms residue was also found on a jacket taken from McGrath. This suggested that he had been present in the vicinity of the shooting.

Also, DNA matching McGrath's profile was found on a balaclava and black wig seized from the Corolla.

Interviews conducted by gardai with Kelly also formed part of the prosecution's case.

Drogheda Independent

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