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Tuesday 20 November 2018

Firefighters tell double murder trial of finding skulls in burnt-out car

Jason O’Driscoll has denied murdering two Dubliners
Jason O’Driscoll has denied murdering two Dubliners

Firefighters have told a murder trial that they found skulls and a ribcage in a burnt-out car after extinguishing the fire in a car park.

The jury also heard details of a police car chase in Newry at around the same time.

The evidence was given to the Central Criminal Court yesterday in the trial of a 35-year-old Dubliner charged with murdering two men, who the prosecutor described as "small-time criminals".

Jason O'Driscoll, of Richmond Avenue, Fairview, is accused of murdering fellow Dubliners Anthony Burnett (31) and Joseph Redmond (25) on March 7, 2012, in Co Louth.

He has pleaded not guilty to both charges and the jury will be asked to use circumstantial evidence to convict him.

Stephen Hoey testified that he was called to a burning car at Ravensdale Park near Dundalk.

He told Anne Rowland, prosecuting, that on putting out the flames he thought he saw something in the driver's seat.

Mr Hoey said he cleared the smoke and saw a skull and ribcage on the seat.

He said that by the time gardai arrived he could clearly see someone hanging out of the driver's seat. The skull was very badly cracked, he added.

Vincent McGuinness, who was his senior, told Ms Rowland that Mr Hoey alerted him to the body. Mr McGuinness shone his torch into the car and saw the skull, which appeared to be slumped at the driver's door.

He said he immediately called his men back as he was concerned that this was now a crime scene, and he called Dundalk Garda Station.

A garda later shone his torch into the car, and Mr McGuinness noticed a second skull in the driver's footwell.

Signalled

Newry police officer Niamh Mulholland testified that she and a colleague were chasing a silver 07 D Mercedes in the city that night when it stopped at traffic lights.

She told Alexander Owens, prosecuting, that it was in the lane to go straight ahead and that she pulled alongside it.

"I could see two males, one in the front passenger seat and one in the driver's seat," she said, adding that she got a clear view of the driver but not of the passenger.

"The driver made eye contact with both of us. My passenger, Constable Downey, signalled for him to pull over and I put on the blue lights to signal we were the police."

She said the traffic lights were still on red, but the Mercedes took off immediately, pulling to the left and going around a pedestrian island.

"We pulled against the flow of traffic as well," PC Mulholland said.

However, the police vehicle was armoured and slow.

One of its wheels clipped the pedestrian island, causing a flat tyre. The officers lost sight of the silver car soon afterwards.

PC Mulholland said she later gave a description of the driver to a facial imaging specialist, who prepared a ph otofit.

Two of her colleagues test- ified later that they had seen the same Mercedes parked up elsewhere in the city for a few days before. They joined in pursuit of the car when alerted by PC Downey.

However, it was "racing" and they lost it when it went the wrong way around a roundabout.

The trial continues today.

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