Key witness testifies at O'Byrne murder trial

The key witness in the murder trial of a Wicklow man has described seeing a hooded gunman shoot her partner outside their Dublin home, as she was putting their baby into the car.

Giving evidence at the Central Criminal Court today, Sharon Rattigan said she saw a stout black-haired man in dark clothes, his face covered by a hood, firing at Seamus O'Byrne in the driveway of their home at Tymon Park North in Tallaght, in March 2009.

"I saw a chap walking along wearing a tracksuit, then he just turned towards Shay and started shooting him" she told the jury.

The 29-year-old described how the man then turned the gun on her and she ran at him, grabbing him by the chest.

"He kept whacking the gun off my head, I didn't know I'd been shot in the leg at the time...I somehow reached my hand up and got the gun out of his hand."

Ms Rattigan said she could hear her son screaming and could see "Shay" lying on the ground, then she and the gunman fell over a wall into the neighbour's garden as the struggle continued.

"He was on top of me, hitting me, punching me, screaming 'give me the gun'. I wouldn't let go of it I thought he would shoot me."

The man ran off, and she opened the door of her car and threw the gun inside, before going to help Shay, who was struggling to breathe.

The 27-year-old had been shot four times. The court has heard a fifth bullet that went through Ms Rattigan's thigh also went into Mr O'Byrne's body.

O'Brien (aged 34), of Clover Hill in Bray, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr O'Byrne on March 13, 2009. He has also denied a second charge of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life on the same date.

It's the prosecution's case that O'Brien was involved with a gang who had been plotting to kill Mr O'Byrne at his home for two days prior to the shooting.

Under cross-examination by counsel for the defence, Mr Feargal Kavanagh SC, Ms Rattigan denied that she or Mr O'Byrne had been involved in drug dealing in any way.

When pressed on the issue, she said she was "100% certain" that Shay had never been involved with drugs. She said he had worked hard all his life at a number of different jobs, and had been trying to set up a car valeting business at the time of his shooting.

Ms Rattigan said he was out of work in 2009 because his arm had been paralysed in an accident two years prior.

She also said she had noticed a man in his 40s in a car acting suspiciously in the hours before the shooting, and had the impression that he was watching her.

Mr O'Byrne and Ms Rattigan had been together for ten years at the time of his death and had two children, a six-year-old girl and two-year-old boy.

On the night of his shooting they had plans to go out and Ms Rattigan had been putting their son into the car to drop him to her mother's house, when the gunman attacked.

The case resumes on Monday next before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy.

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