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Getaway driver accidentally set fire to trousers while trying to burn stolen vehicle after Dublin murder

Gareth Brophy has pleaded guilty to helping facilitate the murder of David Douglas.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

THE DRIVER OF the getaway car used in the murder of David Douglas accidentally set fire to his trousers while trying to burn the stolen vehicle, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Gareth Brophy (25) with an address at Reuben Walk, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty before Christmas to helping facilitate the murder of Douglas.

Douglas (55) was shot six times as he took a meal break at the counter in his partner’s shop, Shoestown, on Bridgefoot Street, Dublin 8 on 1 July, 2016.

This morning, Detective Garda Niall Godfrey agreed with Seán Gillane SC, for the State, that shortly after 4pm, on 1 July 2016, a male in dark clothing, carrying a gun, entered Shoestown and shot Douglas.

The gunman then ran from Bridgefoot Street into a waiting Mercedes which was being driven by another man, the court heard.

Detective Garda Godfrey agreed with Gillane that an eye-witness saw the Mercedes driving off “at speed” down Francis Street, Dublin 8, before it turned right onto Carman’s Hall near Tandy Court Apartments.

The detective agreed with Gillane that the Mercedes was subsequently parked, two men got out and the car was set alight. He said during the bid to burn the car, the driver’s trousers “caught fire”.

Gillane said: “The driver was seen putting out the flames on this trousers before running to another vehicle, a Suzuki Swift?.” Detective Garda Godfrey confirmed this.

The Mercedes’ driver, Brophy, ran to the Suzuki’s passenger seat while the shooter ran to the Suzuki’s driver’s seat, the court heard.

The Suzuki then drove off “at speed” in the direction of Meath Street in Dublin 8.

Gillane said the movements of four vehicles – the Mercedes, the silver Suzuki Swift, a blue Mitsubishi and a Ford Fiesta – were captured on CCTV and that gardai analysed 1,500 hours of CCTV.

He said that, just before 4pm on 1 July 2016, the Mercedes was “deployed for the murder”.

Detective Garda Godfrey said CCTV footage showed the Mercedes and the Suzuki driving in convoy towards Tandy Court Apartments where the Suzuki was parked. The Mercedes then did a U-turn back up Meath Street towards Shoestown.

Gillane put it to Detective Garda Godfrey that, moments after this, “very, very grainy [CCTV] footage” from which it is “impossible to identify the person”, shows a man walking towards Shoestown.

The detective agreed and also confirmed that footage of Douglas showed that, at this time, he was eating when he was approached by the man and shot.

In around the same time, the court heard Freddie Thompson was seen on Meath Street breaking up a mobile phone. Frederick “Freddie” Thompson, of Loreto Road, Maryland, Dublin 8 was found guilty of Douglas’s murder in August 2018 and sentenced to the mandatory term of life imprisonment.

The shooter was then seen running back towards the Mercedes which was then caught on CCTV “speeding down Francis Street” before the two men made a “switch” to the Suzuki Swift, the court heard.

The Suzuki was subsequently caught on CCTV, at around 4.35pm, crossing Merrion Gates in Sandymount, Dublin 4. This footage showed the Suzuki’s passenger was Gareth Brophy, the court heard.

The detective confirmed to Gillane that a forensic examination later showed that DNA taken from the passenger area of the Suzuki matched that of Brophy. A palm print also taken from a door of the Suzuki matched that of Brophy.

Brophy’s DNA was also found on a 7UP bottle from the Ford Fiesta, the court heard.

Gillane said: “The only inference I submit is that the chain of evidence shows that Mr Brophy was the driver of the Mercedes.”

“The murder car?” Mr Justice Paul Coffey asked.

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“The murder car,” Gillane replied.

The court was told that Brophy was arrested before midnight on 18 November 2018, at The Barn House Pub in Dolphin’s Barn. Gardaí searched the pub and Brophy was found in the cellar, the court heard.

Detective Garda Godfrey said Brophy has 20 previous convictions which include robbery, assault causing harm, assault, public order matters, violent behaviour in a Garda station, threatening to assault a police officer and breaching the peace.

Michael Bowman SC, for Brophy, told the court his client was 21 at the time of the offence and that while he has previous convictions, “this was a marked step up” for him.

He told the court Brophy’s father died in 1995 and that he has had difficulties with drugs. He also said the deaths of his maternal grandparents and an uncle have adversely affected him.

Mr Justice Coffey asked Gillane if the prosecution see Brophy’s involvement in the murder being “higher” or “lesser” than that of Nathan Foley. “It is higher,” Gillane said.

In November 2018, Foley (22) of Rosary Road, Maryland, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty to helping a criminal organisation carry out the murder of David Douglas. He was subsequently jailed for six years.

Mr Justice Coffey said that the court will sentence Brophy on 17 February.

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Olga Cronin

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