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Killer in drag appeals conviction for murder outside pigeon club

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Machine gun killer Christopher McDonald

Machine gun killer Christopher McDonald

Machine gun killer Christopher McDonald

A 37-year-old Dubliner has appealed against his conviction for being the murderer in drag who gunned a man down with a sub-machine gun in a busy car park.

Christopher McDonald's lawyer has argued that the jury should not have heard he replied "Go f**k yourself" when arrested, as it indicated a hardness that would be expected from a professional hitman.

McDonald, from the East Wall area of Dublin, was found guilty of murder by a unanimous jury verdict at the Central Criminal Court three years ago.

He had pleaded not guilty to murdering Keith Walker (36) at the Blanchardstown Pigeon Racing Club on Shelerin Road, Clonsilla, on June 12, 2015.

Chatting

The trial heard Mr Walker was shot dead as he stood chatting with fellow pigeon enthusiasts.

He had arrived at the club in a car belonging to his friend Jason O'Connor.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of a person pulling a gun from a handbag and opening fire on Mr Walker.

The prosecution case was that it was McDonald in drag.

A post-mortem revealed the victim was hit 18 times and died from bullet wounds to his head and body.

Gardaí later found the gun in a handbag in a laneway about a kilometre from the club.

Alongside the 9mm calibre sub-machine gun were a black wig and latex glove.

McDonald's DNA was on the wig and glove, both of which also contained traces of firearms residue.

The guilty verdict was met with shouts and tears, with one man yelling "Scumbag junkie bastard, I hope you rot!" before Justice Patrick McCarthy sentenced McDonald to life imprisonment.

McDonald yesterday app-ealed against his murder conviction to the Court of Appeal, with his barrister, Michael Bowman, arguing several grounds in his submissions.

These included that the trial judge had erred in refusing to discharge the jury when Jason O'Connor had lunged and allegedly threatened his client while Mr O'Connor was on his way to the witness box to give evidence.

This showed Mr O'Connor had clearly formed the view that McDonald was responsible for the killing, he said.

Counsel said the prejudice caused to his client by this was compounded by the jury hearing that McDonald's reply to the arresting sergeant was "Go f**k yourself".

The sergeant was not permitted to give evidence of this reply, but prosecution counsel had already referred to it in his opening speech.

"That's something that stands out in the minds of a jury," Mr Bowman suggested.

Counsel said the jury's first introduction to his client's disposition would have begun to erode his presumption of innocence.

"What would someone expect from a hitman, a professional killer, but the response made?" he asked.

Justice John Edwards pointed out that many people, for all sorts of reasons, do not like the gardaí.

"The fact that someone says, 'Go f**k yourself', all it means is that there was no love lost between him and the guards," he said.

Methadone

"Are you really suggesting that the jury would have been so undiscerning that they wouldn't have appreciated that?"

Mr Bowman also submitted that the trial judge had erred in ruling that his client was unlawfully detained between 5.40am and 6.10am on June 13, 2015, and in admitting evid- ence of an informal identification carried out during that period.

He further argued that the judge had erred in admitting evidence in respect of forensic samples taken from his client, who had given consent for their taking around the same time that he had been prescribed methadone.

Court President Justice George Birmingham, presiding, along with Justice Ed- wards and Justice Brian Murray, adjourned hearing the rest of the appeal in order for both parties to submit further written submissions on this ground.


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