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Monday 24 July 2017

Head shots would have resulted in 'rapid death' of gun victim, court told

Keith Walker was shot 18 times outside a racing pigeon club
Keith Walker was shot 18 times outside a racing pigeon club

A pigeon racing enthusiast allegedly shot dead by a man in drag drove a friend's car to the scene because his pal was banned from driving, a jury has heard.

Keith Walker took his friend Jason O'Connor's pigeons to Blanchardstown Racing Pigeon Club in Clonsilla because the birds were taking part in a race the next day.

Mr Walker was hit by 18 bullets in the club's car park and would have suffered a "rapid death" after he was hit by two bullets to the head, a pathologist said.

Christopher McDonald (34) has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Walker outside the club on June 12, 2015.

Disguised

It is the State's case that Mr McDonald, from the East Wall area of Dublin 1, disguised himself as a woman and fatally shot Mr Walker with a submachine gun.

Mr O'Connor's statement to gardai was read into evidence by prosecution lawyer Denis Vaughan Buckley.

He said he had known Mr Walker for two years. They became friends after he loaned Mr Walker a female pigeon, or hen, and he had successfully bred off that bird.

Mr O'Connor said there was a pigeon race on the weekend in question, and Mr Walker had come over to help him with his birds.

The witness told gardai that Mr Walker had helped to load the birds into Mr O'Connor's partner's car.

Mr Walker then drove the car, a black Toyota Avensis, over to the pigeon club.

Mr O'Connor said he couldn't drive because he was the subject of a 10-year ban at the time.

He didn't go to the pigeon club with Mr Walker because he was "b*****ks tired".

He said he had got no sleep the previous night because he had been "fighting with my 'mott'", who was on holiday in Spain.

Mr O'Connor said he rang Mr Walker and then sent him a text message to tell him which birds to enter into the competition.

However, there was no response from him and, when he heard an ambulance, he started to get worried.

He rang another friend, who told him Mr Walker was dead.

Mr O'Connor described Mr Walker as "a decent fella", saying his only interest was in his pigeons.

He told gardai he was "still in shock" and "totally devastated".

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy said the cause of Mr Walker's death was multiple gunshot wounds to his head and upper body.

Prof Cassidy said Mr Walker was struck by 18 bullets, mostly on the left side of his body.

She said two of the bullets struck the left side of his head, around the left ear, penetrated the brain and exited through the forehead. The head wounds would have resulted in his "rapid death", the jury heard.

Prof Cassidy also said the bullet wounds were consistent with a "rapid burst of gunfire".

Detective Garda Jean McDonnell said she and Garda David Howard were the first on the scene, at 6.07pm. It was "chaotic" and there was "in excess of 50 people" there.

Magazine

She was aware that people wanted to move their cars, because they had pigeons in them, but she was not aware of any cars being moved.

Under cross-examination, she said she was aware someone had gone into the pigeon club to feed and water the birds.

In his evidence, Detective Garda David O'Leary, from the Ballistics Section, said he removed a submachine gun that had six live rounds in the magazine from a laneway off Sheepmor Crescent four days after the shooting.

Gda O'Leary said he compared the cartridge casings found at the pigeon club with cartridges he test fired from the gun found at Sheepmor Crescent and it was his opinion they were "all discharged from the same firearm".

The trial continues.

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