herald

Thursday 23 November 2017

Hitman-in-drag murder jury told that gardai 'lax in dealing with evidence'

Victim Keith Walker
Victim Keith Walker

Gardai in a murder investigation acted with "great laxity" in how they dealt with evidence, a defence barrister has told a trial jury.

Bernard Condon gave his closing speech to the jury ­yesterday in the trial of Christopher McDonald (34), from the East Wall area of Dublin.

Mr McDonald has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 36-year-old Keith Walker at Blanchardstown Racing Pigeon Club on the Shelerin Road, Clonsilla, on June 12, 2015.

The trial has heard that Mr Walker was shot 18 times by a gunman dressed as a woman.

Mr Condon told the jury that there was a problem with the evidence and a "great laxity in the way some of the gardai have dealt with this case".

He said there remained ­unanswered questions and unfilled gaps and the prosecution was asking the jury to take "jumps into the unknown".

Speaking for the prosecution, Denis Vaughan Buckley said there was "more than ample evidence" to conclude that the accused was guilty.

Mr Buckley reminded the jury of the evidence given by two teenage boys, who said they met a man carrying a handbag and dressed in women's clothes on the evening of the shooting.

Mistake

The man, who had a cut over one eye, asked them for directions to the pigeon club.

Mr Buckley told the jury to look at the photographs taken of Mr McDonald after his arrest.

He also pointed to forensic evidence, which showed firearms residue on a latex glove and wig found alongside a handbag and a gun that a ballistics expert said was the one used to kill Mr Walker. The accused's DNA was found on the glove.

Mr Condon said there were many matters that were poorly dealt with in the trial. He pointed to the fact that Detective Sergeant Paul Tallon had written in a statement that he found dark glasses along with the gun, but no glasses were actually found.

He asked the jury to consider that a woman in nearby Whitestown had told gardai that a young man asked her to dress him as a woman.

He pointed to an inconsistency in evidence given by a garda who had retrieved CCTV footage that was shown to the jury.

The garda initially said it did not have a live time stamp but later said that was a mistake.

There were further questions over the taking of samples.

Regarding the evidence of the teens, Mr Condon said neither one had identified Mr McDonald as the man they spoke to.

He also pointed to evidence given by one of the teens, who said he saw lipstick on the man's teeth. "Mr McDonald doesn't have two front teeth," he said.

Horrific

Regarding the bag, gun, wig and glove, Mr Condon said there was a four-day gap between Mr Walker's death and the items being found.

He further pointed to evidence that showed that each item had sources of DNA other than Mr McDonald's.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy will continue his charge to the jury at the Central Criminal Court today.

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