Dublin murder trial collapses

The jury has been discharged in the trial of a Dublin man accused of murdering his best friend and neighbour in Blanchardstown over five years ago.

The jury has been discharged in the trial of a Dublin man accused of murdering his best friend and neighbour in Blanchardstown over five years ago.

The murder trial of Aidan Finnegan was in its 11th day at the Central Criminal Court, when Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan told the jury that a legal matter had arisen, and he was "obliged under law to discharge them from the case."

Finnegan (aged 30), of Whitestown Avenue, Hartstown in Blanchardstown, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Dara McCormack, after he had left his family home for a night out on February 11, 2006.

The 22-year-old construction worker was shot in the back in the Whitestown Park area some time after 9pm. He was found bleeding and struggling for breath on the ground by neighbour, and his father, Thomas McCormack, who was a central prosecution witness in the case.

He told the trial that his dying son said "Aidan" had shot him, as he held him in his arms while they waited for the emergency services. Mr McCormack said he asked "Aidan Finnegan f**king shot you?" and Dara said "yes da, Aidan."

Mr McCormack said Finnegan and his son did everything together and were like brothers.

Dara McCormack was rushed to hospital following this exchange, but was pronounced dead a short time later after sustaining 50 gunshot pellet wounds to the back. A number of the pellets had gone straight through his lungs, heart, kidney and liver causing massive blood loss.

During the trial, several eye-witnesses described for the jury how they had seen two men in dark clothes and balaclavas standing over Dara McCormack, as he lay on the ground trying to defend himself, on the evening in question.

One woman reported seeing an object like a bicycle pump protruding from the jacket sleeve of one of the men, and then hearing a loud bang, before the two men ran off.

The court also heard that Dara McCormack had texted several friends, and his older sister, in the lead up to his death, asking for a loan of money.

"I told them I'd have four for them, they'll shoot me if I'm lying" he texted one friend. In another message he wrote "if you have a heart, meet me at 9...I'm a dead man if I don't have that."

He asked his sister for €200, writing that it was "serious". There was also evidence that Finnegan had texted Dara in the weeks prior to the shooting, asking for money that was owed him.

"If you don't answer, I'm getting someone to knock in your house" one of the messages read. The court also heard that mobile phone records placed one of five mobile numbers used by Finnegan in the Blanchardstown area on the evening of the shooting.

Another key prosecution witness, Stephen Kavanagh, told the court that Finnegan rang him on the evening of Mr McCormack's death, asking him to arrange a meeting with Dara.

"He said he wanted his money from Dara" Mr Kavanagh told the jury.

Finnegan asked him to set up the meeting in a laneway in the Whitestown Park area.

Kavanagh rang Mr McCormack, whom he described as a good mate, and passed on the message. He said Dara agreed to the meeting. He was sitting in his bedroom later that night when he heard a gunshot, and ran out to find Dara injured on the ground.

Mr Kavanagh then cycled to Thomas McCormack's house to tell him his son had been shot.

Under cross-examination by Finnegan's defence counsel, Mr Patrick Marrinan SC, Mr Kavanagh said he could not recall the content of phone conversations he had with Finnegan in the two days following the shooting.

He also said he had no recollection of throwing his phone away.

The trial will now be heard at a later date in front of a new jury.

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