Friday 24 May 2019

Murder shocks town that produced an Olympic champ

Scene of the shooting at Bray Boxing Club
Scene of the shooting at Bray Boxing Club

The garda tape set up in the quiet corner of the seaside town of Bray formed a line in the sand.

On one side, media crews were mixing with shocked locals to see if anyone had seen or knew anything about the shooting or the victims.

On the other, members of the Garda Technical Bureau worked the crime scene to gather forensic evidence that might reveal who had earlier run into the gym with his head covered and fired indiscriminately into the small crowd of people who had gathered for a morning fitness session.

By 7am, the gunman had fled the scene, leaving one man dead and two injured, one of them the father of Olympic boxing champion Katie Taylor.

Pete Taylor's distinctive white Mustang car was parked outside.

Taylor is the man who helped put the gym on the map when he prepared Katie there for her gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012.

When Katie trained there it was a mere shed containing a rudimentary boxing ring and an exercise area. It didn't even have a toilet.

However, as Katie's fame grew there was local and national embarrassment at the conditions she was working in.


In January 2014, she cut the ribbon at the opening of the €300,000 facility built to replace the shed that had helped her become so famous.

Yesterday morning it was making news for all the wrong reasons.

Boxing coach Pete Taylor at his revamped gym in Bray
Boxing coach Pete Taylor at his revamped gym in Bray

Technical bureau teams in their trademark white boiler suits were gathering the physical evidence, including what appeared to be a bloodstained training shoe.

Even the pier and slipway across the road at the harbour were searched, photographed and documented.

For local people, it was an unfamiliar and unnerving sight in such a quiet part of their coastal town.

"I could see the guards and ambulances here. Then someone told me there was a shooting. Someone said it was three young guys," said one local.

"There was a lot of activity here with the guards when I came down. This kind of thing hasn't happened before.

"It's a quiet place. The guys train here and are always running up and down the pier.

"It's a positive and happy place. I don't know what the story is. I'm sure everyone is wondering.

"The reaction here is just one of shock. It gives Bray a bad name, we don't need it. Everyone has the same feeling about it."

Another person said the area is "usually very quiet".

He said the club is "evidently very good".

Sinn Fein TD for Wicklow and East Carlow John Brady said: "I just got the news. I was getting phone calls and different people were ringing me.

"I'm just in shock. The club here is a fantastic club. It has a huge appeal to people right across Bray.

"People come here first thing in the morning and work out before they head to work.

"Local people are in shock by all accounts.

"These people were just shot while they were doing a morning workout. It's way too early to speculate."


The body of Bobby Messett, who was described as a committed family man who loved keeping fit, was removed in the early afternoon as his heartbroken family tried to process the news of his murder.

In Dublin, at around the same time, a van fitting the description of the silver VW Caddy with Northern Irish registration plates that gardai were looking for was found miles away on the Pigeon House Road on the outskirts of the city.

Another crime scene was established, with vital evidence to be collected.

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