Monday 19 August 2019

How pub murder suspect turned protected witness

COURT: 'I did not drive gunman to and from Carroll shooting'

The chief prosecution witness in a Dublin murder trial has denied being 'some sort of Merlin' for turning himself from murder suspect into State witness with immunity from prosecution.

Joey O'Brien (26) was being cross examined at the Central Criminal Court in the trial of four men charged with murdering a father of three in a city pub.

John 'Champagne' Carroll (33) was shot dead in Grumpy Jack's Pub in the Coombe on February 18, 2009.

Peter Kenny (28) of McCarthy's Terrace, Rialto; Christopher Zambra (35) of Galtymore Road, Drimnagh; Damien Johnston (27) of Cashel Avenue, Crumlin; and Bernard Hempenstall (26) from Park Terrace in the Coombe have denied his murder.


Michael O'Higgins, defending Johnston, pointed out that shortly after being arrested for the crime, Mr O'Brien and his girlfriend were discussing the witness protection programme with gardai.

Detectives had also returned to her the €3,000 he was carrying after he convinced them it was not the proceeds of crime.

The court has already heard that Mr O'Brien was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for giving evidence.

"Are you some sort of Merlin that you can walk into a police station steeped in a murder and within a couple of hours, you're hatching a plan to leave the country with your partner?" asked the barrister.

"No," replied Mr O'Brien.

Mr O'Brien maintained that he confessed to his involvement in the murder because his sister had been arrested after he parked the getaway motorbike in her garden.

"The guards are going to say that you came into the room and said, 'I was involved in the murder and I know others who were involved in the murder, but before I say anything I want to know about the witness protection programme'," said Mr O'Higgins.

Mr O'Brien denied this version of events, insisting that the gardai had first mentioned the programme after he had already made his statement.

Mr O'Brien denied asking his sister to lie for him but agreed that he had after Mr O'Higgins read out her statement.

Mr O'Brien had already denied to Mr O'Higgins that he drove the getaway motorbike to and from the murder, which is the prosecution's allegation against Johnston.

Mr O'Higgins read from the statement of William Keyes, who said that Mr O'Brien offered him money to get rid of the bike the day after the killing. Mr O'Higgins concluded by putting it to Mr O'Brien again that he drove the gunman to and from the murder.

"No I didn't," he insisted .

The trial continues.


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