We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.
Bray boxing club

Bobby Messett died from single gunshot wound to head, Dr Marie Cassidy tells trial

Gerard Cervi (34) has pleaded not guilty to murdering Bobby Messett in June 2018.

FATHER-OF-THREE Bobby Messett died from a single gunshot wound to the head as he took part in an early morning fitness class at Bray Boxing club, Dr Marie Cassidy has told a murder trial.

The jury also heard from the expert witness that the absence of secondary projectiles around the bullet’s entry hole indicated that there was a distance of a meter or more between the victim and the shooter when the gun was fired.

Retired State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy today gave evidence via video-link from the UK in the Central Criminal Court trial of Gerard Cervi (34), who is charged with murdering Messett and the attempted murder of boxing trainer Peter Taylor and Ian Britton.

Cervi, from the East Wall area of Dublin 3, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Messett (50) at Taylor’s Bray Boxing Club, Bray Harbour, Bray, Co Wicklow on 5 June 2018. He also denies the attempted murder of Taylor and Britton on the same occasion.

Retired State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy told prosecuting counsel Paul Murray SC today that she conducted a post mortem on Messett, who was fully dressed in gym clothing, at St Columcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown on the afternoon of 5 June.

The expert witness testified that she carried out a CT scan on the body, which was still in the body bag, prior to the physical examination.

In her evidence, Dr Cassidy said that Messett had a ballistic type injury to the head caused by a bullet, which was consistent with a large exit wound at the back of the head. There were fractures to the skull and damage to the right side of the face, the entry site of the bullet, she said. There was no evidence of invasive attempts of resuscitation.

She pointed out that there was blood-staining over the left side of Messett’s neck and shoulder area. The back of the victim’s t-shirt was heavily blood-stained because he had been lying face up and on his back since he was shot some hours earlier, she indicated.

Dr Cassidy said the only significant injury to Messett was a single gunshot entry to the head and the gunshot entry wound was through the left side of the nose.

Describing the direction of the bullet after entry, the witness said it continued through the upper jaw bone, behind the nose and below the left eye, entering the skull cavity, then through the interior of the front of the skull and the back section of the skull cavity.

“The bullet is travelling from the left nostril area and the exit is at the back so it is going diagonally through the head,” she explained.

In summary, Dr Cassidy said the bullet had gone through the left side of the face and nose and travelled diagonally into the back of the skull cavity, injuring the undersurface of the brain. “The brain was swollen as a reaction to the injury and damaging the right side of the brain. There were small injuries to the brain stem due to the shock wave produced,” she continued.

As the bullet was travelling at “huge speed”, the witness said it had created shock waves inside the skull cavity and tore the blood vessels in the brain stem, which controls one’s breathing and heart rate. “This would cause an immediate collapse of the person as it is one of the most important areas of the brain to keep one alive,” she added.

Furthermore, Dr Cassidy said there were various areas of haemorrhage in the head and blood had trickled down the back of the victim’s throat blocking his airways.

In conclusion, the witness said the postmortem showed that death was due to a single gunshot wound to the head, which had entered through the left side of the nose. The bullet had travelled through the head before exiting the right side of the head at the back. Haemorrhage into the brain stem would have caused instant collapse and rapid death, she remarked.

Dr Cassidy said the deceased’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.

Referring to the distant range, the witness said this was a clean wound and only the primary projectile [the bullet] had struck the deceased’s body.

“In this instance the absence of secondary projectiles [such as smoke, soot and unburned powder] around the entry hole indicate that there was a distance of a metre or more between the victim and the shooter when the gun was fired,” she explained.

Detective Garda Janette O’Neill, who is attached to the ballistics section of An Garda Siochana, gave evidence that she arrived at Bray Boxing club at 10.55am on 5 June.

The witness said there was blood on the front step of the stairs leading up the gym and on the inside of the staircase. She also observed a number of discharged cartridge cases at the top of the stairs as she entered the front door of the gym.

Nine discharged cartridge cases in total were found at the scene which was consistent with nine bullets being fired, she said.

The trial continues this afternoon in front of Justice Michael White and a jury of three men and nine women.

Alison O'Riordan