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'I saw young boy shoot my Alan at front door', gun murder trial told

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Shooting victim Alan O’Neill with his partner Michelle Usher

Shooting victim Alan O’Neill with his partner Michelle Usher

Shooting victim Alan O’Neill with his partner Michelle Usher

A mother-of-three has described to a murder trial how her partner was shot to death at the front door of their home by a "young boy" in dark clothes.

Michelle Usher told prosecuting counsel Shane Costelloe SC that she thought it was a joke until she heard a third shot and her partner, Alan O'Neill (35), screamed out in pain.

She was giving evidence in the trial of Warren Nolan (22), of Rowlagh Park, Clondalkin, who has pleaded not guilty to Mr O'Neill's murder at Kiltalown Road, Tallaght, on May 27, 2015.

Mr Nolan also denies damaging a car by fire in Belfry Square, Tallaght, on the same date.

Ms Usher told the Central Criminal Court that in May 2015 she was preparing to finish a university degree course while Mr O'Neill, a painter and decorator by trade, was due to start a course in personal training.

Peculiar

She had one child with Mr O'Neill and he was a father figure to all three of her children.

That evening Ms Usher was in her living room when she saw Mr O'Neill's car arrive back and park on the driveway, followed by a people carrier that stopped at the entrance to the driveway.

Mr O'Neill got out of his car but when Ms Usher saw the second car stop she leaned closer to the window as she thought it "peculiar". Then a "dark figure" came into the garden.

He looked like a "young fella" and so when she heard two "really loud bangs" she thought it was a joke until, as she opened the door, she heard another bang, saw a blue flash and a black gun in the dark figure's hand followed by Mr O'Neill screaming out in pain.

Ms Usher caught hold of her partner and brought him in the doorway to the living room, while another shot smashed the window of the hall door.

"Everything happened so quickly and I just didn't believe what was going on," she said.

She saw the figure with the gun run out of the garden and get back in the people carrier, which then "took off".

By his posture and movements, she thought he was a "young boy" or a "teenager" but she did not see his face.

Mr O'Neill was pale and seemed to be having a fit. He told her to call an ambulance and make sure the children stayed in bed.

Her neighbour Stephen O'Connell arrived and, seeing Ms Usher in "hysterics", he took the phone and followed the paramedic's instructions until an ambulance arrived.

Defence counsel Michael Bowman SC suggested to the witness that her recollection of seeing a young boy or teenager was influenced by media reports that two teenagers had been arrested in the aftermath of the shooting.

She said she was not reading newspapers at the time as she was "traumatised" and was more concerned with looking after her children.

Earlier the jury heard Mr Costelloe's opening speech, in which he said the accused was arrested after a woman smoking a cigarette on her balcony alerted gardai to a suspicious car.

Flames

The woman, who was in another part of Tallaght, noticed the car driving in an erratic way.

She called gardai, who responded quickly and were talking to the driver of that car when they saw another car go up in flames close by.

It is the State's case, counsel said, that the burnt-out car was the one used in the shooting and that the accused, having shot Mr O'Neill, burned it out.

He said two people who had been in the now burnt-out car walked toward where gardai were talking to the driver of the suspicious car, but when they noticed the officers they ran.

One of them got away but the other, Mr Nolan, was arrested.

The jury will hear evidence that gardai found gloves on Mr Nolan, which, when analysed, were shown to have gunshot residue on them.

The trial continues.


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