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Murder trial hears secret audio recording from bug planted in fast-food restaurant

The trial has previously heard that, one of the IRA accused was seen in a KFC outlet in the company of two men.

THE SPECIAL CRIMINAL trial of two men accused of playing roles in the “meticulously-planned killing” of dissident republican Peter Butterly has been listening to a secret audio recording from a bug planted by gardai in a fast-food restaurant.

The trial has previously heard that, on the day after the shooting, one of the IRA accused was seen in a KFC outlet in the company of two men who played roles in the killing of Mr Butterly.

Mr Butterly (35) was shot dead shortly after 2pm on 6 March 2013 outside The Huntsman Inn in Gormanston, Co Meath. The father-of-three died from gun shots wounds to his neck and upper back.

Laurence Murphy (62) of McDonough Caravan Park, Triton Road, Bettystown, Co Meath and Ray Kennedy (39) with an address at Whitestown Drive Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 have pleaded not (NOT) guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation, styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh Na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA on March 6, 2013.

Mr Kennedy is also charged with carrying out an act intending to pervert the course of justice by destroying a mobile telephone SIM card on the same date in the State.

It is the prosecution’s case that six people including accused man Laurence Murphy attended an insider’s meeting or a “debrief” in relation to the previous day’s events at KFC in Charlestown Shopping Centre on March 7 and gardai used a surveillance device to listen to the conversation between alleged IRA members.

In his opening address, prosecution counsel Paul O’Higgins SC said the evidence suggested that there was a close connection between Mr Murphy and the events which occurred.

The three-judge court today (Thurs) spent nearly two hours listening to the conversation between the six men. Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, prosecuting, told the court that after listening to the audio recording, she would provide the court with a transcript.

The trial has previously heard that Mr Murphy’s red Seat Toledo car was seen by an officer with the National Surveillance Unit on March 7, 2013, the day after Butterly’s murder, at a KFC outlet in Charlestown Shopping Centre in Finglas. The officer said he entered KFC at 2.05pm and observed six men sitting around a table in the upstairs area of the restaurant.

Following this, the witness said he saw Frank Murphy, Laurence Murphy and a third male leave the upstairs area of the restaurant at around 2.40pm. One of the three men who remained in the fast-food outlet was Kevin Braney, said the officer.

Earlier this year, Kevin Braney (44), of Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght, Dublin 24 was sentenced to the mandatory term of life imprisonment after been found guilty by the Special Criminal Court of the “premeditated” murder of Mr Butterly. Braney had denied the charge.

Frank Murphy (59), a brother of accused man Laurence Murphy, of McDonagh Caravan Park, Triton Road, Bettystown, Co Meath, was jailed for three years with the final year suspended after pleading guilty to committing an act to impede the apprehension or prosecution of former accused-turned State witness David Cullen, knowing or believing him to be guilty of possession of a firearm in suspicious circumstances within the State on March 6, 2013.

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David Cullen was originally charged with the murder of Peter Butterly, but his plea to a lesser charge was accepted in 2014 and he was jailed for that offence. He later turned State’s witness.

Opening the prosecution case in October, Mr O’Higgins told the non-jury court that Butterly drove his grey Renault Laguna vehicle into the carpark of The Huntsman Inn in Gormanstown, Co Kildare at 1.45pm on March 6, 2013 and was shot dead shortly after 2pm.

Three other men – Edward McGrath (37), of Land Dale Lawns, Springfield, Tallaght, Sharif Kelly (49), of Pinewood Green Road, Balbriggan and Dean Evans (27), of Grange Park Rise, Raheny, Dublin have all received life sentences at the Special Criminal Court following convictions for Mr Butterly’s murder.

Another man, Michael McDermott (60), of Riverdale House, Garrymore, Ballinagh, Co Cavan who played a role in the murder of Mr Butterly has also been jailed.

The trial resumes next Wednesday in front of Ms Justice Tara Burns, presiding, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Michael Walsh.

About the author:

Alison O'Riordan

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