Screen to conceal ID of murder trial gardai

Garda forensics and Dept State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jabber pictured at the scene outside the Huntsman Inn at Gormanstown where Peter Butterly was shot dead Pic Frank Mc Grath

By Ruaidhri Giblin

A Detective Superintendent has applied to erect a "screen" between members of the public and undercover garda witnesses prior to them giving evidence in the trial of three men charged with the murder of dissident republican Peter Butterly.

The non-jury Special Criminal Court will rule today on the application brought in the knowledge of the Garda Commissioner "in order to protect the visual characteristics" of nine gardai from the National Surveillance Unit.

Edward McGrath (32), of Land Dale Lawns, Springfield, Tallaght; Dean Evans (22), of Grange Park Rise, Raheny;, and Sharif Kelly (43) of Pinewood Green Road, Balbriggan, have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Peter Butterly (35), who was shot dead in the car park of the Huntsman Inn at Gormanston, Co Meath, on March 6 last year.


Mr Evans and Mr McGrath have also pleaded not guilty to the unlawful possession of a 9mm calibre Beretta model 9000s semi-automatic pistol and seven rounds of 9mm parabellum calibre ammunition at the same address on the same date.

Opening yesterday for the DPP, Una Ni Raifeartaigh SC told the court that Mr Butterly had driven to the car park of the Huntsman Inn at 1.55pm on the day in question.

He had been lured there by another man not before the court, Ms Ni Raifeartaigh said.

Shorty afterwards, at 2.05pm, a Toyota Corolla entered the car park and shots were discharged from this vehicle.

It would appear from eyewitness accounts, Ms Ni Raifeartaigh said, that Mr Butterly exited his car and tried to flee the scene, but further shots were discharged and he fell to the ground.

Mr Butterly was found by a lone garda, collapsed in the corner of the car park, and he was pronounced dead a short time later or may have been dead already, counsel said.

On March 5 last year, one day before the incident took place, the Toyota Corolla which was used in the shooting was observed in a car park outside the home of David Cullen, counsel said.

Mr Cullen will say he was visited by a number of persons, including Sharif Kelly and Edward McGrath, as well as two other men not before the court, counsel said.

"He says the shooting was discussed at that time. Evans and McGrath would be involved in the actual shooting and his role was to collect the gun," afterwards, Ms Ni Raifeartaigh said.

Mr Cullen was initially charged with murder and firearms offences, but "his solicitor made contact with the gardai to indicate a potential willingness to co-operate with the prosecution", counsel said. The DPP accepted a plea from Mr Cullen to a firearm charge, Ms Ni Raifeartaigh said.