A 38-year-old Dublin man has been cleared of ordering the murder of a man in a pub in the capital four years ago.
Christopher Zambra of Galtymore Road, Drimnagh, had pleaded not guilty to murdering John Carroll in Grumpy Jacks in The Coombe.
The 33-year-old from Charlemont Street in Dublin was shot dead as he socialised in the pub on February 18th, 2009. The prosecution alleged Mr Zambra ordered the killing.
This was Mr Zambra’s second trial for the murder. A jury failed to reach a verdict two years ago.
The case centred on evidence of Joseph O’Brien, who testified he had two meetings with Mr Zambra and others in the days before the murder.
He said Mr Carroll’s murder was planned at these meetings and that Mr Zambra offered €30,000 for the killing.
Mr O'Brien said Mr Zambra asked him to source a motorbike to use in the killing and to burn it out afterwards. He said Mr Zambra also chose the gunman and the motorbike driver who brought that gunman to and from the scene.
Mr O’Brien admitted his involvement in the killing but was never charged. He was granted a form of immunity and testified knowing that nothing he said in court could be used against him. He is now in witness protection and lives outside the jurisdiction.
All sides warned the jury about Mr O’Brien. Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy described him as a serial perjurer and liar who was guilty of murder himself.
There was also much criticism of gardaí, in this and the previous trial, for how they dealt with Mr O’Brien as an informer.
A senior officer admitted he operated outside the Covert Human Intelligence Source system when dealing with Mr O'Brien. Det Sgt Adrian Whitelaw said he had suggested operating within this system to Mr O'Brien, but that he had said no.
Both Det Sgt Whitelaw and now retired Det Supt PJ Browne also admitted interviewing Mr O’Brien off camera during the investigation, contrary to regulations.
During the trial two years ago, Mr Justice Barry White said the jury might consider the Garda to be “well rid of” Supt Browne and that Det Sgt Whitelaw “may not be the type of man you want to see in the force”.
The eight women and four men of the jury acquitted Mr Zambra yesterday after 4½ hours of deliberations.
A woman stood up and shouted abuse at them as they delivered their majority not-guilty verdict. “May God forgive you,” she said.
Mr Zambra hugged his family and legal team before walking free following the two-month trial at the Central Criminal Court.