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Garda disputes Pete Taylor complaint that cash was taken from him after boxing club attack

The boxing coach says cash and clothes were removed from him and never returned.

A forensic team at Bray Boxing Club after the shooting
A forensic team at Bray Boxing Club after the shooting
Image: PA Images

A GARDA WHO took possession of trainer Pete Taylor’s clothing after he was shot at Bray Boxing club has told the Central Criminal Court that he “never saw or took any cash” belonging to him.

Garda Glenn McLoughlin, who was the first responder to arrive at the scene of the fatal attack at Bray Harbour, said the boxing coach was not wearing any tracksuit bottoms in the ambulance or hospital as his right leg was exposed.

“They weren’t taken off him in my presence,” he said.

Pete Taylor, who had organised the early morning fitness class, testified earlier this week that he had complained to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) after his runners and tracksuit bottoms, containing between €200 and €400, were removed from him at the scene and never returned.

In his evidence, the boxing coach said he had asked gardaí to return his runners, which had been removed by paramedics, and a sum of money that was in his tracksuit bottoms.

However, he said he was told by gardaí that they didn’t have his money or runners and had never taken them.

Ultimately, GSOC dismissed his complaint, he said.

Taylor’s partner, Karen Brown, previously told the jurors that she remembered seeing a blonde male garda, one of two gardaí who were first to attend the scene, holding a blue plastic bag containing Taylor’s tracksuit bottoms and Adidas runners.

She said she saw the same garda at St Vincent’s Hospital later that day with the bag still in his hand containing Mr Taylor’s tracksuit bottoms and runners.

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 5 June 2018.

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

Garda McLoughlin, who was attached to Bray Garda Station in June 2018, told prosecuting counsel Paul Murray SC today that he was made aware that a shooting had occurred at Bray Boxing club at around 6.50am on 5 June.

He “immediately put on his vest and body armour” and “went as hard” as he could to the boxing club in a marked patrol car.

When he arrived outside the boxing club five minutes later, Gda McLoughlin said Ian Britton was sitting on a wall with a wound to his leg and a number of other people were in a distressed state.

He was informed that there were other people injured inside the club and that a gunman had fled the scene.

The garda went upstairs to the gym, where he saw Taylor “who had quite obviously been wounded” lying on his back. Gym-goer Eddie McCann, who was attending to Taylor, pointed out Messett to him.

Describing Messett, the witness said he was lying on his back with his head resting against gym equipment. A large amount of blood was “pooled around” him, he said, and there was blood on his face.

Garda McLoughlin tried to find the entrance wound of the gunshot to Messett’s face and then turned him over to locate the exit wound at the back of his head and neck area.

He was unable to find a pulse so he laid the deceased back down in the pool of blood.

The witness accompanied Taylor in an ambulance to St Vincent’s Hospital along with a paramedic. He confirmed that he was the very first garda to arrive at the scene and to go into the boxing club.

When they arrived at the triage area of the hospital, Garda McLoughlin said a staff member removed Mr Taylor’s items of clothing and he [Gda McLoughlin] placed them into plastic bags and later transferred the clothing into evidence bags. He said he took a grey sports top and a pair of trainers from the boxing trainer.

Asked specifically by Mr Murray about the items of clothing taken from Taylor, Garda McLoughlin said he was at the coach’s bedside that afternoon, where staff were medically treating him.

“I told him that I needed his clothes and they removed them and I put them into plastic bags and later put them into evidence bags,” he replied.

He confirmed to Murray that the sports top and trainers were the only items he had taken from Taylor “at any time”.

Under cross-examination, Garda McLoughlin agreed with Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, defending, that whilst he was the first garda at the scene, he could also be classed as a “first responder”.

The witness also agreed that his intention when he took Taylor’s clothing was to preserve evidence. He said there were blood-stains on the clothing, which may have had forensic evidence on them, so he placed the items in plastic bags to avoid cross-contamination.

When asked if it would be normal practice to put evidence into plastic bags, Garda McLoughlin said that he did not have any evidence bags on him at the time and it was “the best I could do in the circumstances”.

The barrister put it to the witness that Taylor had made a complaint to GSOC in relation to a “large number of matters, one of which related to the treatment of his clothing and items” and said that gardaí had taken his clothing and put them into a blue bag.

Lawlor asked the witness if the boxing coach was right about this. “I seized items of clothing from him and put them into plastic bags. I can’t say what colour the plastic bags were,” he replied.

The witness disagreed that the plastic bags where the clothing had originally been placed “became very significant” as they had contact with the blood-stained items. “The plastic bags were used to shield them from being cross-contaminated and the evidence bags were the receptor,” he added.

He told Lawlor that the trainer was not wearing any tracksuit bottoms in the ambulance or hospital as his right leg was exposed. “They weren’t taken off him in my presence,” he said. In reply, Lawlor said that Taylor maintained his clothing was all taken off him from the same garda.

Asked if Taylor’s tracksuit bottoms were taken off him at some other stage, Garda McLoughlin said: “I’m saying I don’t know, perhaps they were cut off him”.

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When asked if the statement he gave to GSOC in March 2020 was a significant event, Garda McLoughlin said: “It is but when you know you have done nothing wrong, you’re not concerned about it. I was asked if I was aware of any bottoms or if I seized any, I told them I wasn’t.”

The witness agreed that he was only interviewed by GSOC for one purpose and that was to discuss the disappearance of Taylor’s tracksuit bottoms, money and the treatment of evidence garnered at the murder scene. “They asked me about cash, I said I didn’t seize or see any cash, they wanted to know about the cash,” he said.

Garda McLoughlin told Lawlor that GSOC were very concerned about the cash when he made his statement to them. He said: “They were more concerned about cash missing or cash seized. I never seen or took any cash [sic].”

The garda confirmed that he was the only person who had seized clothing off Taylor that day and said “the matter was investigated and I was cleared of it.”

Lawlor put it to the garda that he had not been present in the courtroom when Brown and Taylor had described the trainer’s clothing being cut from him at the location where he was shot. “I can’t say whether the clothing was cut from him in the club,” he replied.

The lawyer further put it to the witness that on his account the paramedics had taken off Taylor’s tracksuit bottoms. “I don’t know what the paramedics did. I can say he wasn’t wearing the bottoms in the ambulance,” he replied.

Lawlor said Brown was “crystal clear” that it was the same garda who had dealt with her partner’s clothing at all times and had referred to the officer as having blond hair. Counsel put it to the witness that Taylor and his partner “made very clear accounts” of how the trainer’s clothing was taken and they said it was “all taken together’. In reply, Gda McLoughlin said he had been very clear in his evidence.

The barrister said she was not interested in what had happened to Taylor’s money but rather in the preservation of evidence. She went on to say that “none of this stands up to scrutiny” and put it to the witness that he was incorrect in his evidence. “No, I’m correct,” he replied.

Lawlor said that the items going into plastic bags had not featured in his statement to GSOC. “Yes, I just said they went into evidence bags as they were interested in the money and did I seize cash or not. They cleared me of any wrongdoing whatsoever,” he stressed.

The barrister asked the witness if it was just a coincidence that the mention of plastic bags did not feature in his statement to GSOC yet it “found its way” into another statement he made just 48 hours ago.

Garda McLoughlin said GSOC were very interested in the cash and not so much interested in the tracksuit bottoms. “Their focus was did I see cash or seize cash,” he added.

In summary, Garda McLoughlin agreed that receiving a letter from GSOC is a “rare event” and they would not be made everyday. The witness said his decision to discard the plastic bags were informed by his teachings at Templemore as he didn’t think they were of any evidential value.

Earlier this week, boxing trainer Taylor was asked by Lawlor in cross-examination if he was certain his tracksuit, t-shirt and runners were taken.

Taylor said: “They were put in a bag beside me. I remember asking why they were cutting my tracksuit bottoms off me when I was shot in the arm.” He said they were put in a blue bag, “like a garda evidence bag.”

Taylor told Lawlor that he complained to GSOC about “a number of different matters” including the money and clothing. He said the response he received was that those items were not taken from him, “and that’s where it was left.”

The trial continues tomorrow in front of Justice Michael White and a jury of three men and nine women.

About the author:

Alison O'Riordan

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