Murder trial told deceased man was shot by gunman wearing a balaclava

An witness in a murder trial has described how the driver of a van, heading to a pub in Blarney, Co Cork, was shot in the chest by a gunman wearing a balaclava.

A jury at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork was yesterday also told the cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the chest. Four days earlier, the man on trial had allegedly told gardaí, in relation to an earlier complaint about the deceased, he would take care of matters himself.

Michael Collins, aged 29, of Upper Kilmona, Grenagh, Co Cork, has denies three charges before Mr Justice Paul Carney and a jury, namely murdering Patrick (Pakie) Hogan at Glen Road, Ballynaraha, Blarney, the possession of a .22 inch Hornet calibre Rhoner rifle and ammunition with intent to endanger life on Feb 10, 2011.

Patrick O’Brien, who worked as a mechanic for the deceased, testified Mr Hogan had suggested driving from his home, to Blarney a few miles away, for a drink at 3.30pm on Feb 10 last year. He said there was a Volkswagen Golf blocking the road.

He then saw a man with a gun wearing a balaclava, T-shirt and jeans about 10ft from the front of the van.

“He fired a shot through the driver’s window… It hit Pakie just about the right side of the chest. It came in through the driver’s window, the glass went everywhere. He (Mr Hogan) tried to get the van into gear to move off…

“He told me to go and get help. I ran down a small bit from the van and I got on to the guards. Pakie gets out of the van on the driver’s side, he stumbles, he kind of fell out, like.

“When I was inside in the field, I heard a second shot.

“I seen the red van coming back up the road, I thought it was Pakie. I was kind of waving at the van to try and stop him. The van drove up and stopped. The gunman got out and fired a shot at me. He was probably (100ft) away. I fell into the river. I lay down. He probably thought I was dead.”

A few minutes later, he found Mr Hogan dead.

Garda Kevin McCarthy said Mr Collins called to Blarney Garda Station four days before this and asked about the progress of an investigation into complaints that he (Collins) had made about Mr Hogan.

“He was not satisfied with the progress that was being made and he said he was going to have to take care of it himself. I called him back and asked him what he meant by that but he did not come back.”

The garda called to the home of Mr Collins just after the reported shooting on Feb 10. He found a small fire that appeared to be burning clothes. Gardaí put out the fire.

“I saw Michael Collins coming down from the back of the houses through the fields. I noticed his pants were wet and he appeared to have cuts to his arm like briar scratches. I enquired where he had been and he said he had been out for a run up the field. He gave a couple of conflicting stories in relation to the fire.”

Deputy State pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis said Mr Hogan was shot in the back near his right shoulder and the bullet carried through and exited on the right side of his upper chest.

The trial continues today.

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