Firefighters saw skulls and ribcage in burning car

Firefighters giving evidence in a double murder trial have described seeing skulls and a ribcage in a burning car they were hosing more than five years ago.

Firefighters saw skulls and ribcage in burning car

They were among the first witnesses called yesterday in the Central Criminal Court trial of a man charged with murdering two fellow Dubliners in Co Louth.

Jason O’Driscoll, aged 34, of Richmond Avenue, Fairview, has pleaded not guilty to murdering car thieves Anthony Burnett and Joseph Redmond, who were found shot dead in the burnt car on March 7, 2012.

Stephen Hoey testified that he was one of the firefighters called to the burning car in Ravensdale Forest car park at around 11pm.

He told Anne Rowland, prosecuting, he first put out the flames at the back of the car, including the fuel tank.

“Through the smoke, as I approached the driver’s door, I thought I saw something,” said Mr Hoey.

He said he then saw a skull and a rib cage sitting on the driver’s seat. The skull was badly cracked and broken.

He brought what he had seen to the attention of a senior firefighter, Vincent McGuinness, who also gave evidence.

Mr McGuinness told Ms Rowland that he called all his men back once he saw the skull, because it was now a crime scene.

He called gardaí and later helped them check that the fire was extinguished. He said that as a garda shone his flashlight into the car, he saw a second skull on the floor between the driver’s and passenger’s side.

Detective Garda Shane Curran told Ms Rowland he attended the scene the following day, and saw the “badly burnt remains” of two people in the front of a burnt Volkswagen Golf.

He said the body in the driver’s seat was slumped to the right and that the head was protruding through the open driver’s door. The body in the passenger seat was slumped across the other body, he recalled.

He said that he assisted in placing the bodies in suitable body bags.

He later attended autopsies on both bodies, carried out by then deputy State pathologist Khalid Jaber. He saw Dr Jaber take deformed lead fragments and deformed metal jackets from the skull and cheek of the body that was in the passenger seat.

“Those items effectively make up two discharged bullets of either 38-inch calibre or 357-inch calibre,” he said.

He recalled the fragments of two bullets were also recovered from the skull and nasal area of the body found in the driver’s seat.

He said he microscopically compared the four copper-jacketed and damaged bullets and found a number of corresponding markings.

“This suggested that all four bullets were discharged from the one firearm,” he said, adding that he could not be 100% certain of this without examining the firearm used.

Pathologist Jack Crane confirmed each man had died of two bullet wounds to the head. Dr Crane was satisfied both were dead before the fire started.

The trial continues.

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