Inquest may call Lusk robbery accused as witness

A man charged in connection with the attempted robbery of a post office in Dublin’s Lusk may be called as a witness at the inquests of two men shot dead by detectives during the incident, a coroner’s court heard today.

A man charged in connection with the attempted robbery of a post office in Dublin’s Lusk may be called as a witness at the inquests of two men shot dead by detectives during the incident, a coroner’s court heard today.

The family of Dublin men – Colm Griffin (aged 33) and Eric Hopkins (aged 24) – have objected to an adjournment until the criminal trial is finished.

John Byrne, a barrister for the families, queried whether the coroner might decide if the man is to give evidence as otherwise he said the inquests could proceed.

The inquests heard Gavin Farrelly, from Lower Sheriff Street in Dublin, was charged with possession of a firearm with intent to commit an offence, attempted robbery and unlawful use of a car in relation to the incident in May 2005.

Dublin City Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said: “On the face of it would appear to me he could be a material witness.”

But he said he was unsure if any decision he made on the matter might impinge on the trial and reserved his decision on whether he would be called.

Mr Byrne said he did not accept Mr Farrelly would have to be a material witness and there was nothing to prevent the inquest going ahead without his evidence.

He said a Detective Garda 'A' , who was directly concerned in the incident, was mentioned throughout the book of evidence.

The counsel said: “His (Det Gda. 'A') evidence coupled with the CCTV footage would best inform the inquest.”

On a previous occasion Fergal Foley, counsel for the state, said the anonymity of individual gardaí involved in the shooting incident must be preserved, and any video footage would have to be masked.

Mr Foley said it would be undesirable for the inquest to be heard before the criminal trial is completed.

Adjourning the inquest until November, Dr Farrell said he would not be prepared to go ahead with it at this stage.

The coroner also adjourned the inquest into the death of 20-year-old Terence Wheelock until next month.

Mr Wheelock, from Summerhill in Dublin, was found unconscious in a cell at Store Street Garda Station last June after apparently attempting to hand himself with a cord from his tracksuit bottoms.

He was brought to the Mater Hospital but never regained consciousness and died on September 16, 2005.

The family of Mr Wheelock are seeking funding from the Government for an independent forensic examination to be carried out on Mr Wheelock’s clothing.

Dr Farrell said he had written to Justice Minister Michael McDowell in relation to independent forensic experts stating their evidence could be used to inform counsel for the family in examining witnesses.

Adjourning the inquest until August 24, he said it was up to the minister whether funding for the examination was granted.

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