Jury tampering claims at handgun murder trial
GARDAI are probing an attempt to interfere with a murder trial jury.
Last night Greg Crawford was beginning a life sentence for the 2007 murder of Gareth Grant (25), but a previous trial collapsed after gardai learned that someone was trying to influence the jury.
It has been confirmed that the garda investigation into the attempt to influence the jury is continuing and criminal charges may yet arise.
It is believed this is the first time in the history of the State that a murder jury in the Central Criminal Court has had to be discharged after gardai uncovered attempts to interfere with a juror.
Last May, while deliberating the fate of Greg Crawford (24) following two weeks of evidence at the Central Criminal Court in Limerick, Mr Justice Paul Carney called the jury back into the court and discharged them.
The 12 people -- who had been discussing the case for two days -- were discharged from jury service for the rest of their lives after the presiding judge was presented with information from Limerick's most senior garda officer.
Chief Supt Dave Sheahan told the judge that "certain information" had come into the gardai's possession after the deliberations had begun.
Prior to beginning their second day of deliberations, the jury were warned by Mr Justice Carney not to talk to anyone about the case following the initial day's discussions.
Chief Supt Sheahan said an attempt was made to influence a member of the jury to bring back a not-guilty verdict and a garda investigation began.
Mr Justice Carney recalled the jury and said something was alleged to have happened which he would not go into, but added that the vast majority of the jurors "are not affected by what happened".
A retrial was ordered and the case was moved to Dublin where Crawford, of St Munchin's Street, St Mary's Park, Limerick, denied the murder of Gareth Grant who was shot dead outside his home at St Ita's Street, St Mary's Park on October 8, 2007.
Evidence was heard for a week in front of Mr Justice Carney and after considering the case for almost two hours yesterday, the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict.
The father of three suffered a fatal gunshot to the chest.
The victim's partner, Claire Ronan said she saw Greg Crawford standing close to her partner as he lay on the ground.
A bullet recovered from the victim's chest was traced to the murder weapon -- an Ithaca handgun - which was recovered underneath a barrel in the back garden of the guilty man's grandparents' home.
DNA found on a glove wrapped around the handgun matched the DNA of Crawford.
Crawford showed no reaction as the verdict was read out and he was handed a mandatory life sentence.
The murderer, who has 12 previous convictions, was already serving 10 years after he caught with a firearm in Limerick in 2008.