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Bobby Messett.
Central Criminal Court

Man goes on trial for murder of Bobby Messett at Bray Boxing Club in 2018

Gerard Cervi pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and not guilty to the attempted murders of Ian Britton and boxing coach Pete Taylor.

THE STATE HAS told a jury that fingerprint and DNA evidence taken from a van allegedly used by the gunman in the Bray Boxing Club shootings five years ago link them to the man on trial accused of murdering an early morning gym-goer and the attempted murder of well-known coach Pete Taylor.

Gerard Cervi (36) from East Wall in Dublin 3, was twice arraigned before the Central Criminal Court this afternoon charged with the murder of Robert ‘Bobby’ Messett on 5 June 2018 at Bray Boxing Club in Bray Harbour in Co Wicklow.

Cervi, who appeared in court dressed in a grey suit, white shirt and yellow tie pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and not guilty to the attempted murders of Messett’s fellow gym-goer Ian Britton and boxing coach Pete Taylor on the same occasion.

The planned opening of the trial before Ms Justice Karen O’Connor was delayed this morning when a juror was excused and had to be replaced from the jury pool.

Opening the case this afternoon, Paul Murray SC, for the State, told the jury that a gunman went into Bray Boxing Club at 6.50am on 5 June 2018, and went to the door of an exercise class where Taylor was teaching.

“He proceeded to fire a number of shots, nine in all, starting it would appear on the right-hand side and going around the room,” Murray said.

“The nearest person to him was Mr Bobby Messett. Mr Messett was shot in the head and died quickly at the scene. One of the other people there was Mr Ian Britton. As the shots continued he was also shot, but survived.

“Mr Taylor himself, who attempted to make a run at the gunman from the left or left-centre of the room was also shot,” Murray said.

As a participant in Taylor’s exercise class, Messett was “quite simply in the wrong place at the wrong time”, Murray suggested to the jury.

He said the jury would be shown CCTV evidence of the gunman running to a “distinctive” grey Volkswagen Caddy van outside with a yellow plate and British registration number Counsel said there would be further CCTV footage showing that van travelling from the scene of the shooting, via Cabinteely and Poolbeg, to the Pigeon House Road in Dublin’s Ringsend.

Murray displayed a series of CCTV stills, which he said would be put into evidence as part of over five hours of recordings making up the State’s case, which he said showed the movements of Cervi and his partner, along with the van in the days prior to the shooting and in the preceding week.

When gardaí seized the van, they found white spirit bottles, Murray said, adding that a fingerprint expert was ready to testify that the marks of Cervi’s left little finger and right thumb had been found on two of them.

DNA samples taken from the passenger seat and the handbrake of the van would also show a connection to Cervi, Murray added.

Further CCTV sequences which would be put into evidence would show Cervi “going to the van” via the Eastlink Bridge the Pigeon House Road in the very early hours of the morning of the shooting on a “distinctive” white and black mountain bike and returning from the same place later that day.

“The prosecution says the man who entered the boxing club and killed Bobby Messett was Gerard Cervi and that he also attempted to murder Ian Britton and Pete Taylor respectively,” he said.

He said the State’s case was made up of circumstantial evidence, the combined effect of which was to link Cervi with the shooting.

“It is no derogation of evidence to say that it is circumstantial. A case is not weakened in any way by fact it is circumstantial. If the evidence is there then remember the oath you gave – ‘a true verdict give in accordance with the evidence’,” Murray said.

“While the gardaí investigate and the DPP prosecutes, you and only you decide,” Murray told the jurors.

“When people hear you’re on the jury they will very quickly tell you how you should conduct your affairs,” Ms Justice O’Connor told the reconstituted jury of six men and six women, adding that they and they “alone” would decide the matter and that they should not discuss it with anyone.

She further directed them not to conduct any research of their own or to “engage in social media in any way in relation to this trial”.

A lengthy witness list including the men named as victims in the attempted murder charges, Taylor and Britton, was read to the jurors.

Ms Justice O’Connor adjourned the trial overnight. The matter is expected to run for six to seven weeks.