Jury hears of moment woman faced gunman in her garden

Jury hears of moment woman faced gunman in her garden

A woman has told a jury of the moment she faced a gunman in her garden, who fired two shots as she fled her home.

Robert Lawlor, with an address at the Rise, Laytown, Co Meath has pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of Fiona Mitchell at Moatview Avenue, Priorswood, Dublin on May 26, 2018.

The accused pleaded not guilty to the charge of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life at Moatview Avenue, Priorswood, Dublin on the same date.

Mr Lawlor also pleaded not guilty to making a threat to Rachel Kirwan at Donaghmede, Dublin on a date unknown between January 1 and 31, 2018 to kill or cause serious harm to Fiona Mitchell and her son Derek Mitchell.

He also pleaded not guilty to shooting a dog endangering its health and welfare at Moatview Avenue, Priorswood on May 26, 2018.

Fiona Mitchell told the Central Criminal Court today that she heard her German Shepherd dog Chopper “going mad barking” in her back garden at approximately 1am on May 26, 2018.

Ms Mitchell said she looked out her kitchen window and saw two men on the wall at the back of her and her neighbour’s house and at first she thought it was her neighbour’s sons taking a short cut home.

She told the jury of seven men and five women she had made toasted sandwiches and had given some to her younger son who was in the sitting room and when she came back into the hall she heard her dog Chopper barking so she looked out her kitchen window.

She said she saw two men on the wall and then one of them climbing over a smaller wall between her back garden and her neighbours while the second man was just dangling on the higher wall.

Ms Mitchell told the trial that when she looked out her patio door she saw Robert Lawlor facing her with a gun.

Counsel for the State John O’Kelly SC asked Ms Mitchell how good her sight was of Mr Lawlor and she replied “100 per cent”.

Mr O’Kelly asked her had she had any doubts who she was seeing and she responded “none”.

She said the alleged gunman was facing her at the patio door wearing black trousers and a top; had nothing covering his face and had a small gun in his hand.

Ms Mitchell told the jury she ran out of the kitchen, locking the kitchen door behind her and ran down the hall screaming at her son, who was playing play station in the sitting room, to get out of the house.

“I was shouting ‘It’s happening, it’s happening’”, she told the trial.

Ms Mitchell told the jury she heard two loud bangs, continuing “I never heard a gunshot before”.

Ms Mitchell ran straight out of the front door to her neighbour's house and hid in her porch. She tapped her door and her neighbour's son answered.

Ms Mitchell said she recognised Mr Lawlor as she was constantly looking at photographs and videos of him on his Facebook and Instagram accounts.

She said her son Derek Mitchell is in a relationship with Mr Lawlor’s former partner Rachel Kirwan.

Ms Mitchell said she found out about Mr Mitchell and Ms Kirwan’s relationship around Christmas 2017.

Prosecution Counsel Mr O’Kelly, reminding Ms Mitchell that she cannot say anything anyone else said, asked her if she recalled being in a McDonald’s restaurant in the Northside Shopping Centre.

Jury hears of moment woman faced gunman in her garden

She said she did, that it was just after Christmas and she was there with her son Derek.

She said she knew about his relationship with Ms Kirwan at the time.

Ms Mitchell said there was a phone call made to her son’s phone and a threat was made.

Mr O’Kelly asked her if she heard what was said and she replied “yes”.

He asked her what she overheard and she said she heard “I am going to kill your ma; I will give you two weeks to grieve her; and then I will come back and take you out of your misery”.

Ms Mitchell said she started looking at Mr Lawlor’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in February 2018.

Ms Mitchell also told the trial her dog was shot dead on May 26, 2018.

Ms Mitchell agreed with Defence Counsel Patrick McGrath SC that she didn’t know Mr Lawlor and only recognised him from Facebook and Instagram.

Mr McGrath, in cross-examination of Ms Mitchell today, put it to her that the first garda she spoke to on May 26, 2018 - Garda Killian Layden - said she had told him a firearm was discharged and the culprits were in her house.

Counsel said she told Gda Leyden that two men dressed in black entered her back garden and the culprits were in her house.

Ms Mitchell replied that she was in “absolute panic” on the night but that she was 100 per cent sure there was only one man in her back garden and in her house.

She said there were two men on the higher wall but only one man in her garden and in her house.

Mr McGrath also said to Ms Mitchell that she was 100 per cent sure it was Mr Lawlor but she didn’t tell the first garda she spoke to, Gda Layden, that she recognised him as Mr Lawlor.

She replied she mustn’t have but she “wasn’t in the right frame of mind”.

Mr McGrath also put it to Ms Mitchell that in Gda Layden’s account of what she told him after the alleged incident, she was sitting in the kitchen when the dog started barking.

The witness said she was in a panic and although she may have said that she was sitting in the kitchen when her dog started barking, she was actually in the hallway.

Mr McGrath told the trial that Ms Mitchell had been speaking to Ms Kirwan on the phone when her dog started barking but that she didn’t tell gardaí about the phone call when she made a statement in the garda station.

Mr McGrath asked Ms Mitchell whether she would have heard if a shot had been fired at her dog Chopper before the first shot. The witness replied that she would have.

She said: “I don’t know when he shot my dog; all I know is my dog is dead”

The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Paul McDermott.

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