herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Gardai vow to return car to man arrested over shooting at school

The scene of the shooting. Inset: Benny Whitehouse.
The scene of the shooting. Inset: Benny Whitehouse.
Benny Whitehouse who was shot dead in Balbriggan

GARDAI investigating the murder of a father of two outside a Dublin school have promised that a car they seized will be returned to its owner when the case has concluded.

The owner made a court bid to have the State return his Volkswagen Passat, which has been impounded by officers investigating the shooting dead of Benny Whitehouse in Balbriggan last year.

He made the application under the Police Property Act at Dublin District Court.

However, the owner withdrew his application after a State Solicitor gave an undertaking on behalf of the gardai that the car would be returned.

The case came before the court on the first anniversary of Mr Whitehouse's killing last Friday.

Mr Whitehouse (35) was shot dead outside a school at Clonard Street, Balbriggan, on September 25, 2014.

The State Solicitor told Judge Bryan Smyth more time was needed as the car was being kept in relation to a serious investigation.

"The investigation relates to a murder one year ago today," she said, adding that the applicant had been arrested and questioned in relation to it earlier this year.

Limited

The investigation was ongoing and she was limited in what she could say as she did not want to prejudice it, she told the judge.

The application had been before the court several times already.

She asked the judge to strike it out, saying the car could be returned to the applicant "once matters have been determined by the courts".

Solicitor Michael Kelleher, for the applicant, said his client was anxious for the prosecution to give an undertaking that this would happen.

Judge Smyth said he did not think a formal undertaking by the respondent, Garda Inspector Kieran Holohan, was needed.

"If the car is no longer needed for the investigation, it will be returned," the State Solicitor said. The application was then withdrawn.

A number of men have been arrested and questioned by gardai over Mr Whitehouse's killing, but nobody has been charged.

Mr Whitehouse, who lived at Westbrook Rise in Balbriggan, was hit four times as he got into his car on Clonard Street in Balbriggan just after 9am. His partner was shot in the leg by the lone gunman who then sped from the scene.

The horrific gun attack took place just yards from St Peter and Paul's school as parents brought their children to the primary school.

Mr Whitehouse had just dropped his child to the school and walked back the short distance to his VW Polo when he was singled out by a gunman who opened fire on him and repeatedly shot him.

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