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The Sunset House Pub where Michael Barr was murdered on 25 April 2016

Man who helped criminal gang murder bar manager caught after he dropped his mobile phone, court told

Michael Barr, the manager of the Sunset House in Dublin, was shot seven times by a masked gunman at the pub over two years ago.

A MAN WHO helped a criminal organisation murder a Dublin bar manager was caught after a mobile phone he sourced was dropped next to the getaway car used in the shooting, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Michael Barr (35), the manager of the Sunset House in Dublin’s north inner city, was shot seven times by a masked gunman at the pub over two years ago.

Martin Aylmer (31), of Casino Park, Marino, Dublin 3 pleaded guilty in July to participating in or contributing to activity intending to facilitate the commission by a criminal organisation or any of its members of a serious offence, namely the murder of Barr at the Sunset House, Summerhill Parade, Dublin on 25 April 2016.

This is believed to be the first time a person has been prosecuted for this offence under the organised crime legislation brought in 2006.

Aylmer was also charged with participating in or contributing to activity being reckless as to whether said participation or contribution could facilitate the commission of the murder of Barr.

The offences occurred between 23 April and 25 April 2016.

At today’s sentence hearing Detective Garda David Chapman, of Bridewell Garda Station, summarized the facts of the case.

Det Garda Chapman agreed with prosecuting counsel, Dominic McGinn SC, that the garda investigation began with the fatal shooting of Barr on 25 April.

Barr was the manager of the Sunset House pub and was present at the premises on the night, the court heard.

Around 9.30pm that night two men wearing masks entered the pub armed with firearms. One of the gunmen came into the premises to fire the shots and the other gunman stayed at the door. Barr was standing at the bar and he was shot seven times.

Det Garda Chapman agreed with counsel that the two gunmen fled the scene in an Audi A6 which was driven by another man. CCTV footage was able to track this car to Walsh Road in Drumcondra, Dublin 9 where an attempt was made to set fire to it. 

Gardaí arrived very soon afterwards and extinguished the fire before it had taken hold of the car and a lot of evidence was gleaned from it.

Det Garda Chapman agreed with McGinn that rubber masks, boiler suits, coats and scarfs were found in the car which were consistent with the two gunmen going into the pub. A number of firearms were found in the car including a round which had been discharged from one of the firearms which had been used to kill Barr.

It also became apparent to gardaí arriving on the scene that a mobile phone had been dropped by one of the gunmen beside the getaway car, the court heard, and a number of calls had been made to it.

According to Garda Chapman, investigations were made into this mobile phone and it was discovered that it had been purchased two days previously in an outlet in the Ilac Shopping Centre.

CCTV was obtained from this premises and it became clear that the same customer had purchased this mobile phone as well as two other phones at the same time. The three phones were prepaid and unregistered phones.

On that date, the court heard, CCTV footage showed a man wearing a shiny, “bubble-type” dark jacket and a baseball cap embossed with the letters ‘NY’ entering another mobile phone shop on Moore Street in Dublin, where a further three mobile phones were bought.

Det Garda Chapman agreed with McGinn that CCTV footage also established this male arrived at the Ilac Shopping Centre in a Toyota Corolla at 11.17am on 23 April to purchase the first set of mobile phones. The man who exited the car was not wearing a baseball cap at the time but put one on afterwards. Following this, gardaí established that this car was registered to Aylmer.

It was also established through CCTV footage that the Audi A6 had started its journey to the Sunset House pub on the evening of 25 April from a lock-up premise on the North Circular Road. This premise was searched on 20 May, a month after the event, and a number of firearms, as well as cleaning products, were found there. A bottle of bleach was also found with Aylmer’s fingerprint on it.

CCTV footage was obtained of the lock-up premises, which Aylmer was identified visiting on three occasions on 24 April. As a result, Aylmer was arrested at his home on 17 June. He was interviewed by gardaí on a number of occasions but chose to exercise his right to silence.

When asked about his presence at the lock-up Aylmer told gardai he had been there but he thought it was related to drug-type offences. Det Garda Chapman said there was no evidence “whatsoever” of drug trafficking at the lock-up.

McGinn read two short victim impact statements from Barr’s relatives to the court. Jade O’Shea, Barr’s partner, said she had been with him for over four years, they were engaged to be married and had one child together.

O’Shea said her life has been turned upside down since his murder and when their child asks about her father, it hurts her to tell her.

Noelle Barr, the older sister of the victim, said they were more like twins as they were very close in age. Barr said her brother relied on her a lot and his death has torn their lives apart. “He was a brilliant father to all his children and his death has destroyed us all,” she said.

The three-judge court heard that Aylmer has two previous convictions for minor public order issues.

Defence counsel Caroline Biggs SC, for Aylmer, said he was granted bail by this court in April and he honoured the stringent conditions set upon him.

Biggs said that mitigating factors included her client’s early plea, his cooperation and his lack of previous convictions.

 In her submissions, Biggs said that Aylmer’s father passed away in 2013 and he resides with his mother and brother who is in a wheelchair following an accident a number of years ago.

Biggs said her client was seen on CCTV purchasing the mobile phones and could be identified by gardai through facial recognition, his car and his clothing. This clothing was found when he was arrested at his flat, she added.

Biggs told the non-jury court that the maximum sentence for such an offence is 15 years in prison.

Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Sinead Ni Chulachain and Judge Cormac Dunne, remanded Aylmer in custody until 15 October, when he will be sentenced.

Eamonn Cumberton (30), of Mountjoy Street, Dublin 7, was jailed for life by the Special Criminal Court in January of this year after being found guilty of the murder of Barr.