Court hears of kidnapping prior to murder

The teenage sister of a Limerick man accused of murder was kidnapped hours before the fatal shooting took place, his trial heard.

The teenage sister of a Limerick man accused of murder was kidnapped hours before the fatal shooting took place, his trial heard.

Mother-of-four Nicola Hartigan told the Central Criminal Court that she was friendly with the defendant’s sister at the time and accompanied her to hospital after the abduction.

The 23-year-old was giving evidence in the trial of Jonathan Fitzgerald (aged 21) of South Claughan Road, Garryowen.

Mr Fitzgerald has pleaded not guilty to murdering Noel Crawford in O'Malley Park, Southill, Limerick on December 18, 2006. Mr Crawford was shot dead outside his parents’ home in the early hours of his 40th birthday.

Ms Hartigan shook, cried, gasped for breath, held her hand over her mouth and dried her tears as she testified from the witness box today.

She said she was at home with her mother in Limerick City between 11pm and midnight on December 17, 2006, when she got a phone call from the accused.

“He said to ring his mother or something, that Jennifer had been kidnapped,” she said, referring to the defendant’s sister, Jennifer Fitzgerald. “I rang his mother.”

Ms Hartigan said she later went to Limerick Regional Hospital with Ms Fitzgerald and some members of her friend’s family.

“It was like she couldn’t breathe,” she said of her friend. “I think they gave her something for shock.”

She said her friend was not kept in the hospital and they all returned to the Fitzgerald home in Garryowen.

She said that the accused rang her on her mobile phone while she was there.

She spoke to him for a while, and also gave the phone to the defendant’s mother, who spoke to him from another room.

She said she returned to her friend’s house the next day and spoke to the accused.

“I asked him what happened to Jennifer and he said she got kidnapped and they tried to shoot her,” she cried. “He said: ‘They didn’t get her but we got them’.”

She said the accused sounded "mad" when he was telling her about the abduction.

She said she burned her mobile phone about two days later.

“I was told to burn it,” she said.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Barry White and a jury of five women and seven men.

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