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Niall Carson

Boxing trainer Pete Taylor 'within touching distance' of gunman when he was shot, court hears

Gerard Cervi (34) has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder.

BOXING TRAINER PETE Taylor was “within touching distance” of a gunman when he was shot, spun 180 degrees and fell to the floor, where he lay unable to move due to the pain, Taylor has told the trial of a man accused of murder and attempted murder.

Taylor told the Central Criminal Court this morning that he felt one bullet “whizz” past his head as he ran towards the gunman.

Gerard Cervi (34), from the East Wall area of Dublin 3 has pleaded not guilty to murdering Bobby Messett (50) at Taylor’s Bray Boxing Club, Bray Harbour, Bray, Co Wicklow during an early morning fitness session on June 5, 2018.

Cervi also denies the attempted murder of  Pete Taylor and Ian Britton on the same occasion.

Taylor (59) told prosecution counsel Paul Murray SC today that he was connecting his phone to a stereo to put on music for the fitness class when he heard a loud bang.

He thought it was an air compressor and when he turned he heard a second bang and saw someone “straddled” in the door frame “with what looked like a gun”.

“I thought he was someone playing a prank and then I noticed Bobby [the deceased Bobby Messett] on the ground and everyone hitting the ground. The chap was shooting right to left around the room, shooting very low,” he said.

Taylor looked for something “to throw at the chap” but all he could see were large weights too heavy to throw.

“It was chaotic,” he said.

“I just decided to run at him, not directly towards him because there were machines in the way that I had to run around to get to him. As I was running the first shot went off that was aimed towards me, I felt it whizz above my head and I put my arm across my head and kept running.”

“I was within touching distance, maybe a foot away,” he said, when he was struck by a bullet, spun 180 degrees and landed on his back on the floor.

He said: “I tried to get up again but couldn’t get up with the pain and then the shooting stopped and it went quiet and then everyone started screaming and shouting.”

An ambulance and gardai arrived and Taylor became emotional when he described being put in a chair and lifted towards the stairs.

After a brief pause to drink water, Taylor said: “That was the first time I saw Bobby.”