Man fatally shot friend believing him to be intruder, inquest told

Inquest hears 85-year-old fired shotgun twice through door of his Mayo home

The inquest has been adjourned to Thursday when a State Pathologist will be among the witnesses to give evidence. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The inquest has been adjourned to Thursday when a State Pathologist will be among the witnesses to give evidence. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A man in his 80s fired a shotgun twice through the door of his Co Mayo bungalow, fatally wounding a friend believing him to be an intruder, an inquest was told on Wednesday.

Brendan Kilduff, of Ballyhernaun, Knock, died at the scene of the shooting in the townland of Coogue, Aghamore, on September 17th.

The 67-year-old-mechanic was shot dead by a close friend, Martin Caulfield (85), during a late-night visit to the latter’s bungalow home.

Mr Caulfield alerted the authorities by making a 999 call at 11.55pm on the night of the shooting.

Speaking at times incoherently, he told the garda who took the call that he had fired a gun twice at a car “because he thought the driver was attempting to get into his house”.

Mr Caulfield told the officer he wasn’t sure if he had hit anybody as he had shot through the door.

He went on to say his house was “surrounded by people with lights” and he did not want to go outside the house.

At an inquest on Wednesday in Castlebar into Mr Kilduff’s death, conducted before a jury by the coroner for Mayo, Pat O’Connor, solicitor Declan Hynes (Tom Walsh & Company) explained that Mr Caulfield is unwell and medically unfit to attend the hearing and would not be attending as a witness.

Detective Sergeant Michael Doherty said a full and comprehensive file had been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and on December 9th gardaí got a direction from the DPP that there was to be no prosecution in the matter.

Rushed

Uniformed and plain-clothed Garda officers, members of the Armed Response Unit and medical personnel rushed to Mr Caulfield’s home in the early hours after he raised the alarm.

One of the first gardaí to arrive, Garda Fearghal O’Caheny, told the inquest that a body in the driver’s seat of a vehicle at the scene was slouched towards the passenger side before being placed on the ground.

Chest compressions were tried but the body was apparently lifeless.

Garda O’Caheny said he noted bullet holes in the stomach area of the man, who was wearing dark clothes and had a torch on his head, which was turned on.

The passenger window of the car was shattered and there was glass on the road.

A nephew of the deceased, Adrian Gildea, Abbeyknockmoy, Co Galway, told the inquest his uncle, a mechanic by trade, was overly helpful and would never refuse anybody when asked a favour.

He spoke of his uncle as having a massive phobia about security and at night would leave his lights on and his radio on.

He added that Mr Kilduff often wore a miner’s light around his head even when driving.

Mr Gildea went on to describe his uncle as “a night owl”.

He said that since Mr Kilduff passed away he had found out that he and Mr Caulfield had been good friends.

Hearsay

At the outset of the hearing Mr John Brady (Dillon Leech & Company), representing Mr Kilduff’s family, claimed that from the book of statements it was clear there was a significant deficit in the information that was being put to the jury.

Mr Brady said he did not believe the jury would be in a position to determine the entirety of the matter on the basis of the evidence that would be presented to them.

The evidence was hearsay at best, Mr Brady said. He called for an adjournment of the hearing so that other gardaí involved in the investigation could be called as witnesses.

This application was refused by the coroner on the grounds that the purpose of an inquest is to establish the facts following a death and make findings on the identification of the deceased, the date and place of death and the cause of death.

The inquest has been adjourned to Thursday when a State Pathologist will be among the witnesses to give evidence.