A father carried his daughter’s school bag and they walked into her classroom together minutes before he was shot dead, an inquest heard, writes Louise Roseingrave.
Benny Whitehouse (35) Ring Commons, Balbriggan, Co Dublin walked his two daughter’s into their respective school’s with his partner Natasha White on the morning of September 25 2014.
“Benny went into class with our daughter. He carried her school bag for her. We didn’t stop and talk to anyone. We were flirting and playing. Benny was in good form,” Ms White said.
Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that the couple sat into their car and were putting on their seat belts when a gunman approached and opened fire.
“I heard a loud bang and the drivers window smashed. I saw Benny turn to the window and put his hands up to protect himself. Then I head three or four loud bangs. I jumped out of the car,” Ms White said.
She saw the gunman over the top of the car and said he was tall with a black hat ‘like something a hunter would wear.’
“It all happened so fast. I realised there was blood on my boots and there was blood coming from my leg. I started screaming for help,” Ms White said.
Witness Michael Brophy watched the shooting unfold as he drove down Clonard Street, Balbriggan, around 9.20am.
“I saw a man hunkered down, carrying a hand gun in his right hand. I couldn’t see his face. There were two people sitting in a VW Polo car facing Deli Burger, putting their belts on. As he reached the VW the man raised the gun,” Mr Brophy said.
“He shot through the window of the car about four or five times. I saw the driver flinch and turn away from the person with the gun,” he said.
Witnesses heard screeching tyres as a Mayo registered Ford Focus sped off and was later found burned out.
Garda Gerard Moroney of Balbriggan Garda Station received an emergency call at 9.20am and attended the scene along with members of Balbriggan Fire Bridge. Attempts to resuscitate Mr Whitehouse failed and he was pronounced dead at the scene at 10.41am.
The cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds, according to a post mortem conducted by Dr Michael Curtis. A file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who directed no prosecution due to lack of evidence. Detective Sergeant Dave Kemp said the case remains open but Gardaí ‘have exhausted all current lines of inquiry.’
The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing by person or person's unknown.