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Saturday 21 October 2017

'I saw my partner gunned down as our children slept'

A Dublin woman has described how she saw her partner shot dead in their bedroom while their young children slept nearby.

John Berney (29) of Castlelyon Drive, Newcastle, Co Dublin was gunned down in front of his partner Karen Mealy on March 6, 2008.

Ms Mealy was in the couple's upstairs bedroom with Berney, who was getting money to pay the babysitter's taxi home, when she heard someone come up the stairs.

"When I turned around he was already in the room. He didn't say anything...He was holding a small handgun.

"I saw him fire the gun. I heard about three or four bangs. John just fell to the ground," Ms Mealy told an inquest at Dublin County Coroner's Court.



WOUNDS

"When he was finished shooting he just turned around and ran down the stairs," she said.

Berney, a criminal, was shot once in the trunk and had two contact gunshot wounds to the left side of his head.

He didn't see the gunman come in as he was bending down at a bedside locker, the inquest heard.

Ms Mealy's two sons, aged four and one, were asleep in upstairs bedrooms at the time.

Stephen Barry, who had been babysitting the two boys and who was downstairs, told coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty he didn't hear the gunman come into the house. The first thing he heard was three or four shots.

The gunman, who had a black scarf wrapped around his face, then came downstairs and shot Mr Barry in the neck.

The coroner told Mr Barry that he was "lucky to be alive".

A post-mortem exam by the deputy state pathologist Dr Michael Curtis found Mr Berney died of multiple gunshot wounds. "The gunshot injuries were incompatible with life and would have proved instantaneously fatal," Dr Curtis told the inquest.

Berney was mildly intoxicated at the time with 83 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of blood in his system.

A full murder investigation was launched following the murder, which resulted in a number of arrests, Superintendent Peter O'Boyle told the inquest.

A file was forwarded to the DPP, but at present there is no prosecution pending.

The Garda investigation remains open, the inquest heard.

A jury of four men and two women returned a verdict of death by unlawful killing under the direction of the coroner.

Dublin County Coroner's Court heard that the couple had just returned from an evening at the Poitin Still when the shooting occurred.

hnews@herald.ie

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