Court considers evidence at Peter Butterly murder trial

Trail of three men over dissident murder held at Special Criminal Court

The Special Criminal Court trial of three men charged with murdering dissident republican Peter Butterly has risen early this afternoon to consider submissions on admissibility of evidence against the accused.

Dean Evans (24), of Grange Park Rise, Raheny, Edward McGrath (33) of Land Dale Lawns, Springfield Tallaght and Sharif Kelly (44), of Pinewood Green Road, Balbriggan have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Peter Butterly (35) who was shot dead in the car park of the Huntsman Inn, at Gormanston Co Meath on March 6th 2013.

Mr Evans and Mr McGrath have also pleaded not guilty to firearm offences at the same address, on the same date.

A fourth man, David Cullen (30), with a last address in Balbriggan, was allegedly "part of the murder plan himself" but turned State's witness against his former co-accused earlier this year.


The non-jury trial has entered a voir dire, a trial within a trial, to determine issues regarding legality of arrest and detention of the accused men and the search and seizure of vehicles.

Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy, presiding alongside Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan and Judge Cormac Dunne are expected to rule on whether this evidence is admissible next Tuesday.

The court heard today that discussions will have to take place between counsel on how Mr Cullen will give evidence in the trial.

Previously the court has heard how Mr Cullen wishes to give his evidence but a ruling is yet to be made on the matter.

Last week, members of the public were excluded from court while gardaí from the National Surveillance Unit gave evidence in the trial.

The public’s exclusion was ordered to protect the officers’ physical characteristics from exposure and their evidence cannot be published in order to protect the unit’s methodology.

Each surveillance officer was escorted from the building through the custody area of the courtroom because, lawyers for the State have said, they cannot walk “out into the public as normal”.

Ms Justice Murphy subsequently permitted the public to re-enter the courtroom to hear evidence from members of the Emergency Response Unit however the evidence of these armed gardaí may not yet be admissible.

The court has heard that Mr Butterly was “lured” to the car park of the Huntsman Inn by another man not before the court at approximately 2pm on March 6th 2013.

A Toyota Corolla vehicle was seen entering the car park and within minutes, shots were discharged at Mr Butterly's vehicle and further shots were discharged when he exited his car and attempted to flee.

Prosecuting counsel, Úna Ní Raifeartaigh SC, has said Mr Butterly was found by a lone garda collapsed in a corner of the car park and was pronounced dead a short time later.

On an earlier date, the court has heard that gardaí­ sought judicial approval to use a tracking device on the Toyota Corolla vehicle which was seen entering the Huntsman Inn shortly before the shooting took place.

It is the first case in the history of the State where a tracking device has been mentioned, according to a senior garda whose name and rank cannot be published by order of the court.

The non-jury court will sit tomorrow before Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy, Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan and Judge Cormac Dunne.