herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Tracking device was 'necessary', murder trial told

a detective superintendent garda has told the Special Criminal Court that he viewed the application for a tracking device to monitor men subsequently charged with the murder of dissident republican Peter Butterly as "proportionate and necessary".

Edward McGrath (32), of Land Dale Lawns, Tallaght; Dean Evans (22), of Grange Park Rise, Raheny; and Sharif Kelly (43), of Pinewood Green Road, Balbriggan, have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Peter Butterly (35), who was shot dead in the car park of the Huntsman Inn at Gormanston, Co Meath, on March 6, 2013.

LURED

Mr Evans and Mr McGrath have also pleaded not guilty to firearms offences at the same address and on the same date.

The court has heard that Mr Butterly was "lured" to the car park of the Huntsman Inn on the date in question by another man not before the court.

Counsel for the DPP, Una Ni Raifeartaigh SC, said a Toyota Corolla was observed entering the car park a short time later and shots were fired in Mr Butterly's direction.

It would appear from eyewitness accounts, Ms Ni Raifeartaigh said, that Mr Butterly got out of his car and tried to flee the scene, but further shots were discharged and he fell to the ground.

The prosecution's case would call on forensic evidence, firearm residue evidence, DNA evidence and also the evidence of Mr David Cullen who was "part of the murder plan himself", Ms Ni Raifeartaigh said at the trial's opening.

In an application brought by the DPP on behalf of An Garda Siochana yesterday, the prosecution attempted to claim privilege over three documents relating to the Criminal Justice Surveillance Act.

It emerged during cross-examination that gardai had applied, under the act, for "a surveillance device" to be used on one or more of the accused prior to the shooting of Mr Butterly, but privilege was not sought over this information.

Ms Ni Raifeartaigh subsequently confirmed that the DPP would be asking the court "to order the disclosure of the tracking device".

The three-judge panel of the Special Criminal Court considered two of the documents as relevant to the defence and ordered their disclosure to lawyers for the accused.

A ruling is yet to be made on whether the DPP can erect a screen between the public and nine gardai from the National Surveillance Unit in order to protect their "physical characteristics".

A detective superintendent said the application was being made with the knowledge of the Garda Commissioner.

"It is not made lightly and only after consultation with management," he said. Counsel for Mr Evans, Hugh Hartnett SC, described it as an "extraordinary application".

sudden

Lawyers for three men have also sought disclosure of material relating to their former co-accused who turned prosecution witness "in sudden circumstances" earlier this year.

Ms Ni Raifeartaigh has said the DPP's case would call on evidence from David Cullen, who turned state witness.

In the Special Criminal Court yesterday, lawyers for the accused sought disclosure of material in relation to Mr Cullen, including medical records.

The Special Criminal Court will deliver its ruling on at least one of the applications relating to disclosure today.

hnews@herald.ie

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