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Gardaí at the scene of the shooting in 2016.
Michael Barr

Dublin pub murder: Major part of DNA profile on piece of evidence recovered matches accused, court hears

Michael Barr was shot dead at a pub in Summerhill in 2016.

THE MAJOR PART of a DNA profile taken from a mask recovered during the investigation into the shooting of Michael Barr in north inner-city Dublin matches the DNA of a man on trial for the murder, the Special Criminal Court heard today.

Liverpool native David Hunter (41) with an address at Du Cane Road, White City, London, is pleading not guilty to the murder of Barr (35) at a pub in Summerhill in Dublin on the night of 25 April 2016.

Tyrone native Barr was shot seven times – five times in the head – after two men wearing masks entered the pub at around 9pm.

Shortly after the shooting on the night of the murder, two rubber masks and two ski-masks were found by gardaí in a burning Audi A6 on the Walsh Road, Drumcondra.

Gardaí searched the car and also found four firearms, a mobile phone and a bullet outside the car.

Dr Edward Connolly of Forensic Science Ireland gave evidence to Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, that mixed DNA profiles had been found on two masks taken from the Audi by gardaí.

Dr Connolly said that he found a mixed DNA profile on a ski-mask with four elements; one major, two minor and one trace.

McGinn was told by the witness that the ski-mask’s DNA profile of a “major contributor” formed 61% of the mixed profile.

That profile, said the witness, had been previously categorised by a colleague at Forensic Science Ireland as ‘unnamed male 2′.

DNA samples from an apple core and a cigarette butt discarded by Hunter in the course of his extradition from the UK and his processing in Ireland on October 16, 2019, were cross-referenced by Dr Connolly.

The witness told counsel that the odds on the profile created by the cigarette butt and the apple core being of “an individual unrelated to ‘unnamed male 2′ were “a thousand-million to one”.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Alexander Owens asked the witness if he meant the odds on the DNA profile of unnamed male 2 being “unrelated to that of Mr Hunter?” and was told, “yes” by the witness.

Dr Connolly said that, regarding one of the rubber masks, there was a mixed DNA profile with four elements present; one major contributor and three minor contributors.

The witness told McGinn that when he compared the samples from the cigarette butt and the apple core and the profile of ‘unnamed male 2′ to the rubber mask sample, “they could not be excluded”.

During his extradition from the UK, Hunter had asked for and been given an apple by accompanying Garda detectives and used noise-reducing ear-plugs on board.

The court has heard that Hunter had requested and discarded both items on the plane and that both items were seized by gardaí as evidence, the trial has heard.

Garda Sergeant Seamus Gannon was the member in charge at Bridewell Garda Station on October 16, 2019, when he charged and cautioned Hunter.

Sergeant Gannon told McGinn that Hunter made no reply, when charged at 3.22pm but that the accused did request a change of clothes from a prison jumpsuit and a cigarette.

The witness told counsel that clothes were provided from Hunter’s personal belongings and that after he changed he was taken to the yard near the prison section of the station to smoke a cigarette, accompanied by Detective Garda David Chapman and Detective Garda Colm Kelly.

Detective Garda Chapman has previously told the court that items discarded by Hunter, whose arrest occurred in the UK, could be lawfully swabbed by gardaí in Ireland.

Garda Stephen Tierney told McGinn that he was in the yard in a car after finishing work at about 3.40pm and observed the two detectives and a male prisoner, who he did not know.

Garda Tierney told counsel that he observed the male smoking and “casting a cigarette down on to the ground”.

The witness said that after the male was taken back inside that he, Detective Garda Chapman and Detective Garda Conor McDonnell placed the cigarette into an evidence bag.

The non-jury court also ruled today that phone evidence submitted by the prosecution will now be admitted, despite objections from the defence.

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Paul Neilan and Isabel Hayes.