After-school worker heard shots and found murder victim David Douglas, court hears

Witness said he instructed co-workers to lock the door and get the children ‘out of the way’

A worker at a children's after-school service has described the moment he heard gunshots and found murder victim David Douglas lying on his back in a next door shop with "blood everywhere".

Witness John Shaw told the non-jury Special Criminal Court court of how he instructed his co-workers at the 'Busy Bees' service to lock the door and get the children "out of the way".

Lee Canavan (31), of Edenbrook, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Douglas (55), who was shot six times with injuries to his chest, neck, back, torso, elbow and jaw at Shoestown, Bridgefoot Street, Dublin 1, on July 1st, 2016. A semi-automatic pistol with its serial number removed was found next to his head.

The accused also denies a second charge of criminal damage to a Suzuki Swift vehicle at Strand Road, Sandymount, on July 4th, 2016, the property of Teresa Devoy.


It is the prosecution’s case that this was a “meticulously and carefully planned assassination” and Mr Canavan was “the person who literally pulled the trigger” after entering Mr Douglas’ shop shortly after 4pm on the day of the shooting.

The Special Criminal Court heard evidence on Tuesday from a number of people who were in the vicinity of Bridgefoot Street on the afternoon of the fatal shooting.

Mr Shaw told prosecuting counsel Sean Gillane SC that he knew the deceased from working in ‘Busy Bees’, an after-school service next door to the shoe shop on Bridgefoot Street, which was run by Mr Douglas and his wife.

Mr Shaw told the non-jury court that he would regularly meet Mr Douglas when he went outside to smoke a cigarette as he [Mr Douglas] would often talk to locals at the front door of Shoestown when the shop was empty.

The witness said he went for a cigarette at about 4pm on July 1st and met Mr Douglas at the front of the shop. “We were talking about the previous time he had got shot,” he said. Mr Shaw told Mr Douglas that he had just fed the children chicken curry and asked him if he wanted “some grub”. The witness said he then gave him a bowl of chicken curry and Mr Douglas heated the food up in a microwave inside his shop.

Mr Shaw said he was drying some dishes in Busy Bees when he heard an initial bang and thought it was fireworks. He then heard three or four more bangs. The witness testified that he saw someone running by his door and down towards Oliver Bond Street. "He was moving quite quickly and dressed head to toe in black. I couldn't see his face as it was completely covered," he added.

Mr Shaw said he looked into Shoestown and saw Mr Douglas lying on the floor. He then ran into Busy Bees and told his co-workers to lock the door and get the children “out of the way”.

On returning to the shoe shop, he said Mr Douglas was so close to the doorway that he could not close it and blood had “started to come out from everywhere”. He said the deceased was on his back with chicken curry coming out of his mouth. “There were marks on his chest and it looked like the blood vessels in his eyes had exploded, they looked black,” he said.

Mr Shaw said he knew nothing could be done for the deceased so he rang 999. Mr Douglas’s daughter then came from the back of the shop and she was “freaked out”, said the witness.

Emma Farrelly told the three-judge court that she was driving out of the car park at the National College of Art and Design on Thomas Street R viyr 4pm on July 1st. As she sat in heavy traffic on Bridgefoot Street, Ms Farrelly noticed a dark grey Mercedes backing into a parking spot beside a van. "It reversed into the van as I noticed that the van did a little jump," said the student. The witness said she heard a loud bang as she sat in the traffic and knew something had happened. She said she saw somebody coming from the shops on Bridgefoot Street and get into the passenger side of the Mercedes. "He had his hood up and was wearing dark clothing," she added.

Pauline Corcoran said she was stopped at a junction on Bridgefoot Street on the afternoon of July 1st and she noticed a man sitting in the driver's seat of a car on Oliver Bond Street, which was facing in the wrong direction and parked beside a van. The witness said she then saw another man who was dressed in black, hurry around the corner and jump into the passenger seat of the parked car. "It pulled off instantly before he had closed the door," she said.

Earlier, the judges spent an hour being talked through some crime scene maps and photographs.

Opening the trial yesterday, prosecution counsel Mr Gillane said the murder was a "carefully and meticulously planned one, to ensure that David Douglas met his death". The barrister said that the court would hear of the movements of four vehicles on the day and that evidence would be produced linking Mr Canavan, through a fingerprint and a DNA sample, to two cars involved.

Mr Canavan is the fourth person to appear before the courts charged in connection to the murder.

In 2018, Frederick ‘Fat Freddie’ Thompson (41) was jailed for life by the Special Criminal Court for the murder of Mr Douglas.

In 2019, Nathan Foley (22) of Maryland, Dublin 8, was jailed for six years after he pleaded guilty to assisting a criminal organisation by driving one of four cars and buying mobile phones used in the offence.

Gareth Brophy (26) was jailed in February 2020 for ten years by the Special Criminal Court for his role as getaway driver.

The case continues tomorrow at the non-jury court before Mr Justice Michael MacGrath, presiding, sitting with Ms Justice Sinead Ní Chálacháin and Mr Justice Dermot Dempsey. It is expected to last four weeks.