Man jailed for life for role in murder at bookmakers

A Dublin man, who was the getaway driver for the gunman in a fatal shooting at a bookmakers over a year ago, has been jailed for life at the Central Criminal Court.

A Dublin man, who was the getaway driver for the gunman in a fatal shooting at a bookmakers over a year ago, has been jailed for life at the Central Criminal Court.

There were emotional scenes in the court as Liam Bolger (aged 23), of Homelawn Gardens in Tallaght, was found guilty of the murder of Christopher Barry (aged 25) on September 13, 2008.

Mr Bolger's mother and family members broke down as the majority 10-2 verdict was read out, following almost seven hours of deliberations over two days, by the jury of six men and six women.

The accused, a father of one and a plasterer by trade, had denied the murder at Byrne's bookmakers, Killester Avenue in Donnycarny.

In her victim impact statement, Mr Barry's mother Ann said: “September 13 was the worst day of our lives. Christy left the house laughing and joking like he always was… there are no words to describe the pain and hardship.”

Mr Barry's relatives wept openly as she told the court that she 'd suffered a massive heart attack when she heard that her son had been shot dead. “He was a beautiful young man who brought laughter and joy… I was so proud to have him for a son. He still lives on in our hearts.”

They reacted angrily and whispered “lies” as the court was told that Mr Barry had a conviction for a drugs offence, and had been associated with a feud between Crumlin and Drimnagh criminal gangs.

Christopher Barry's murder was described in court as a chillingly efficient assassination. Counsel for the prosecution, Mr Paddy McCarthy SC, said that while Mr Bolger was not the actual assassin, he shared equal responsibility for the murder, and the case was one of joint enterprise.

“The gunman is not before the court… Liam Bolger is charged with the murder because he was part and parcel of everything that occurred… there was a murder and it was carried out because Liam Bolger and the gunman agreed to participate,” Mr McCarthy said.

During the eight-day trial, the jury was also shown CCTV footage of the gunman shooting Mr Barry inside the bookmakers. Customers fled the shop as the man, wearing a motorcycle helmet, entered the bookies with a gun pointed at Mr Barry, who was seated in the corner.

Mr Barry tried to run, but the gunman pursued him into the corner of the shop, shooting him nine times in the six seconds that he was on the premises.

The gunman left the bookies on a motorbike, which he then set fire to on La Vista Avenue, just around the corner from the scene of the shooting.

He was then seen by a witness sprinting down the road, before jumping into a waiting white Renault van, driven by Mr Bolger.

The witness, Patrick Drew, contacted gardaí with the van's registration and they traced it to Mr Bolger's address at Homelawn Gardens in Tallaght.

They observed Mr Bolger parking the van outside his house, before a second man got out and wiped down the passenger door and window.

A few hours later Mr Bolger was arrested and brought to Raheny Garda station for questioning. The court heard that he repeatedly replied “no comment” when asked by detectives to account for his movements on the afternoon of the shooting.

He denied that he'd had any part in the murder saying: “I never shot anyone in my life...I was never involved in any murder in my life.”

The jury also heard cell phone analysis which showed that Mr Bolger's mobile phone had been used near the scene of the shooting in the minutes leading up to the killing.

Mr Justice Paul Carney handed down the mandatory life sentence and exempted the jury from jury service for the rest of their lives. He also refused leave to appeal.

The court also heard that Mr Bolger's father had been murdered. He was shot dead in a pub in Clanbrassil street in Dublin city centre in 1994.

Mr Bolger also had one conviction for a road traffic offence.

Speaking after the verdict, the victim's mother Ann Barry said she had been unable to attend the trial because she didn't want to look at the accused man.

But she said she empathised with Mr Bolger's mother Jean.

“God help his mother...she's without her son too. My heart goes out to her” Mrs Barry said.

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