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Barman shot during fundraiser for wives of IRA prisoners at Dublin's Sunset House

Liverpool native David Hunter (41) is accused of the murder of Michael Barr.

Image: PA

A FUNDRAISER FOR the wives of IRA prisoners was being held in an inner city Dublin pub on the night the bar manager was shot dead after men wearing Hallowe’en masks entered the premises, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Liverpool native Mr David Hunter (41) with an address at Du Cane Road, White City, London, is accused of the murder of Michael Barr (35) at the Sunset House pub in Dublin’s north inner city on the night of 25 April, 2016.

The trial reopened this morning after former presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Coffey recused himself from the case on Tuesday due to illness. The case is now before presiding judge Mr Justice Alexander Owens. 

Today, the father-of-five again pleaded not guilty to the charge at the non-jury court. 

Mr Hunter’s barrister, Ms Roisín Lacey SC, said that she had “formally objected” to the jurisdiction of the court in the matter. 

The court heard that Tyrone native Barr, the pub’s manager, was shot seven times in all after two men wearing rubber masks over their faces entered the pub some time after 9pm.

Prosecuting counsel Mr Dominic McGinn SC in his opening statement said that two armed men, “wearing full rubber masks”, entered the bar and shot Mr Barr a number of times in the head and neck.

An emergency call was placed to gardaí at 9.33pm but it was not possible to assist Mr Barr and he was later pronounced dead at the scene at 10.12pm.

His then-girlfriend, Jane O’Shea, today told Mr McGinn that she received a text from Mr Barr at 8pm, saying he was in the Sunset House and asking her to collect him.

She said she refused to collect him, that he should stay with his friends, and told him that he “wasn’t supposed to be there”.

At 9.30pm, she received a text saying that he wanted to “come home to you and to have a Chinese”.

The witness said that at around 8.20pm, she heard a knock on her door and the outside apartment fire-door closing and texted Mr Barr to ask him if it was him at the door. Mr Barr said he was in the pub.

Ms O’Shea said that Mr Barr had been nervous that Monday because of an upcoming prison sentence on Wednesday.

At 9.40pm, Ms O’Shea’s mother rang to ask if Mr Barr was home and said that something had happened at the pub.

Ms O’Shea drove to the scene and was told by a detective that “he’s gone”. “I heard someone screaming: ‘He’s dead’,” she said.

In his opening statement, Mr McGinn said then-Deputy State Pathologists Dr Michael Curtis found that the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.

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Mr Barr had been shot fives times in the head, once in the leg and once in the shoulder.

A witness in the pub told Mr McGinn that she saw the two men enter the pub, which was hosting a Monday Club and raffle on the night.

Gail O’Neill said she heard “five or six” shots and saw Mr Barr on the ground. She ran outside and saw two men in black running from the scene towards a car.

Patricia O’Leary told Mr McGinin that she was a regular at the pub and that the raffle was a fundraiser for the wives of IRA prisoners.

“When the door opened, I thought it was a joke – people were enjoying themselves – I thought it was a kissogram. I heard a few bangs and saw two chaps in wrinkly, rubber Hallowe’en skin-colour masks,” she said.

Ms O’Leary said she gave her phone to the barman to ring the guards after seeing Mr Barr on the floor “with blood coming from the back of his head”.

She said she placed a tea towel over his head after she closed his eyes.

The trial, which has 168 witnesses in total, is expected to last four-to-five weeks.

About the author:

Paul Neilan

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