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Man who shot dead a dissident republican in pub car park gets life sentence

Dean Evans apologised to his victim’s family and said he made decisions as a younger man that he would not make today.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

A 27-YEAR-OLD MAN who pleaded guilty to murdering dissident republican Peter Butterly has apologised to his victim’s family and said he made decisions as a younger man that he would not make today.

Dean Evans of Grange Park Rise, Raheny, Dublin today received the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment at the Special Criminal Court for the murder of Peter Butterly (35), who was shot dead outside The Huntsman Inn, Gormanstown, Co Meath on March 6th, 2013.

Detective Sergeant Liam Archbold told the three-judge court that Evans was the shooter who gunned Butterly down in the pub car park after a planned operation.

The victim’s widow Eithne Butterly wrote a statement which was read by her sister Deirdre Healy.

Addressing Dean Evans, she said he has no concept of the pain, suffering and deep trauma the Butterly family has endured as a result of what he did.

She asked if her husband’s murderer had taken a second to try to imagine the pain he would cause or what it would be like to have to tell his victim’s three children what happened to their father.

“Is life not precious to you?” she asked, as she described how losing her “rock” had taken a massive piece of her that can never be replaced. Healy turned to face Evans as she read the final words: “I ask you one question: For what?”

Hugh Hartnett SC, for Evans, said that his client is truly remorseful and wishes to apologise to his victim’s family for the pain and suffering he caused them.

In a letter to the court, Hartnett said Evans expressed his regret and added that he made decisions when he was a younger man that he would not make today or in the future. He promises to follow the guidance given to him towards rehabilitation when it comes time for him to reintegrate into society.

Describing the garda operation that led to Evans’ arrest and conviction Det Sgt Archbold said gardaí were monitoring a silver Toyota the day before the shooting and noted that it had travelled to Balbriggan in North County Dublin.

Butterly, who lived in Dunleer, Co Louth and represented his county in football, had arranged to meet someone in the car park of the Huntsman Inn the following day.

He arrived at about 1.55pm and at 2.06pm the Toyota Corolla drove in and trapped  Butterly’s car. Evans fired two shots which struck the bonnet and windscreen of Butterly’s car.

With his car unable to get out of the car park, Butterly got out and tried to escape on foot but was shot three times by Evans and died of his wounds.

Gardai were already nearby and arrested Evans and others believed to have been involved in planning and executing the operation.

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Evans was due to go on trial in January 2017 but failed to show up, sparking a Europe-wide manhunt by gardaí. He was arrested last April in Spain, where he was working in a bar, and surrendered to be returned home so he could plead guilty to murder.

Det Sgt Archbold said he accepted that Evans’ remorse was genuine and that he was a changed man from the one who carried out the shooting five years ago.

Evans is the third person to receive a life sentence for Butterly’s murder after the Special Criminal Court convicted the driver of the car 36-year-old Edward McGrath of Land Dale Lawns, Springfield, Tallaght, and 48-year-old Sharif Kelly of Pinewood Green Road, Balbriggan last year.

Three other men are due to go on trial later this year on the same charge. They are Kevin Braney (43), with a last address at Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght, Michael McDermott (58), of Riverdale House, Garrymore, Ballinagh, Co. Cavan and Frank Murphy (58), of McDonough Caravan Park, Triton Road, Bettystown, Co. Meath.

Murphy also appeared at the Special Criminal Court today where he was charged with firearms offences arising out of the events at the Huntsman Inn on that day. Previous charges for firearms offences against Murphy were struck out.

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Eoin Reynolds & Alison O'Riordan

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