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Witness denies IRA kill threat in murder trial

A witness in the trial of a man charged with the murder of Wayne Doherty has denied the IRA threatened to kill him if he did not give evidence.

Robert Hughes was giving evidence in the second day of the trial of Robert Egan (27) who denies murder.

Egan, of Dromheath Avenue, Mulhuddart, has pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of a shotgun.

Mr Doherty was shot in Oakview Way, Hartstown, after he tried to stop a dispute involving his friends and the accused.

The 32-year-old father of two was asked by Mr Hughes for his support in a fight known as a "straightener" with Egan.

Mr Hughes, a friend and neighbour of Mr Doherty, denied under cross-examination that the IRA wanted to kill him and that the only reason he was alive was because he was told to give evidence against Egan.

However, he told counsel for the accused, Michael O'Higgins, that a person claiming to be in the IRA told him: "My mate is dead because of you."

Mr Hughes said he initially contacted Mr Doherty as he was a well-respected individual whom he wanted to act as a "referee".

He claimed any suggestion that Mr Doherty was a member of the IRA would come as a "complete shock" to him.

In his direct evidence, Mr Hughes told the court that he went to a Christening at a public house where Andrew Jameson, a friend of the accused Egan, was also in attendance.

He said that he was not on good terms with Mr Jameson and asked if he would like to "bury the hatchet" but Mr Jameson refused. Mr Hughes said when he later went to the toilet, Mr Jameson stood behind him with his fists clenched.

He said that after he asked Mr Jameson again if he would like to "call it quits", Mr Jameson started "swinging punches".

He said Mr Jameson sustained a "busted nose" during the fight and threw a pint glass at his head before speeding from the scene in a car driven by Egan.

Mr Hughes said he received a telephone call from Egan informing him that his mother's house would be targeted unless he agreed to come to a "straightener" to resolve the dispute.

He told the jury he then agreed to meet the accused and picked up his friend Eric O'Callaghan and contacted David Bolton, Mr Doherty and his brother David Doherty.

Mr Hughes said that when the five men gathered on the footpath at Oakview Way after 11pm, they saw two cars approaching without lights.

He said that when he recognised Egan walking in front of one of the cars carrying a sawn-off shotgun he shouted to his friends: "He has a shooter lads leg it."

Mr Hughes said he ran to the side of a neighbouring house and heard Mr Doherty shout: "Bobby you just hide."

As he jumped on to a small wall between a row of houses he heard a shot fired and looked back to see Mr Doherty walk towards Egan.

Mr Hughes heard a second shout and screaming. He said that when he emerged out on to the road he found Mr Doherty lying shot on the ground in a semi-conscious state.

Under cross-examination, Mr Hughes told Mr O'Higgins that he did not see Mr Doherty carrying a hammer on the night he was killed.

The trial continues.

hnews@herald.ie