Jury sent home in trial of alleged getaway driver

The jury in the trial of a man alleged to be the getaway driver for the gunman in a fatal shooting at a Dublin bookies, was sent home last night, after failing to reach a verdict following almost five hours of deliberations.

The jury in the trial of a man alleged to be the getaway driver for the gunman in a fatal shooting at a Dublin bookies, was sent home last night, after failing to reach a verdict following almost five hours of deliberations.

Mr Justice Paul Carney had told the jury that he would accept a majority verdict in the case of Liam Bolger (aged 23), of Homelawn Gardens in Tallaght, who denies the murder of Christopher Barry (aged 25), at Byrne's bookmakers, Killester Avenue in September 2008.

Mr Justice Carney instructed the six men and six women to either find the accused, a plasterer and father of one, guilty of the murder, or to fully acquit him. He said the lesser crime of manslaughter did not apply to this case.

Counsel for the prosecution, Mr Paddy McCarthy SC, has told the court that Mr Bolger was not the assassin, but he was part of a joint enterprise.

Mr McCarthy said the accused had been brought before the court because he was “part and parcel of everything that occurred”.

During the eight days of evidence in the trial, the jury of six men and six women were shown CCTV footage of the fatal shooting.

Described by Mr McCarthy as a chillingly efficient assassination, the video showed a gunman wearing a motorcycle helmet enter the bookies and open fire on Mr Barry.

Customers fled the shop as the gunman pursued Mr Barry, continuing to fire the whole time.

The deceased was shot nine times in the six seconds that the attack took place.

The court heard that the gunman fled the scene on motorbike, which he then set fire to around the corner, before jumping into a waiting van, allegedly driven by Mr Bolger.

The jury has also heard that cell phone analysis placed the accused's phone in the vicinity of Killester Avenue of the shooting on the afternoon it occurred.

The evidence also showed that text messages were sent from the accused's phone to his mother and sisters, during the time it was using the mast at Parnell Place GAA grounds, near Killester Avenue.

One of the messages sent by the accused's sister read: “You OK Liam? You sound a bit odd.”

One of the main witnesses in the case, Mr Patrick Drew, told the court how he saw a white van, parked with its engine running and a driver behind the wheel, at Killester Park on the afternoon of the shooting.

When he tried to make eye contact with the driver, whom he described as looking “unfriendly”, he put a newspaper up to his face immediately.

A few seconds later, Mr Drew saw a biker sprint down the lane and jump into the waiting van that was drove off at speed.

He phoned in the registration to Gardai who traced it to and address at Homelawn Gardens in Tallaght.

Mr Bolger was arrested later that evening for the unlawful possession of a firearm at Killester Avenue.

During questioning at Raheny garda station, he denied that he had had any involvement in the murder. "I never shot anyone in my life...I was never involved in any murder in my life” he told investigating detectives.

Mr Bolger denied he was the one who had driven the gunman, and said he “definitely” did not know who shot Mr Barry.

The accused also repeatedly said that he'd been advised by his solicitor to reply “no comment” when asked by detectives about his whereabouts on the afternoon of the killing.

Counsel for the defence, Mr Brendan Grehan SC, asked the jury to take into consideration the fact that the accused had been driving his own van on the day in question.

“Mr Bolger bought his van and signed for it. Yet here you have him going off to commit a murder in its worst possible kind, and he doesn't even bother to change the registration,” Mr Grehan said.

Referring to the mobile phone evidence that was heard, Mr Grehan said: “It's not just something surprising, but absolutely amazing that here Mr Bolger is, when he's supposedly involved in a murder...using his own phone.”

The jury is due to resume its deliberations at eleven o'clock tomorrow morning.

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