Gunman stopped firing after Pete Taylor hit in boxing club attack, court hears

Shooter seemed calm as he opened fire at Bray club, court told

 Pete Taylor, who was shot during the incident at Bray Boxing Club. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Pete Taylor, who was shot during the incident at Bray Boxing Club. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Two witnesses to the fatal attack at Bray Boxing Club have told the Central Criminal Court that the gunman only stopped firing after trainer Pete Taylor was hit.

The trial of Gerard Cervi, who is accused of murder and two counts of attempted murder, also heard on Wednesday that the shooter seemed calm as he opened fire on the boxing gym.

Wojciech Bak told the jurors that he locked himself into the toilet after Bobby Messett was shot dead. “I personally couldn’t be there, I had to leave, they were pictures I had never seen in my life and I was not ready to see anything like this,” he added.

Mr Cervi (34), from the East Wall area of Dublin 3 has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Messett (50) at Mr Taylor’s Bray Boxing Club, Bray Harbour, Bray, Co Wicklow June 5th, 2018. Mr Cervi also denies the attempted murder of Mr Taylor and Ian Britton on the same occasion.

Alan Hunter told prosecuting counsel Paul Murray SC on Wednesday that he was taking part in a class on the first floor when the incident happened, and he heard the first bang.

Mr Hunter said he saw “two arms” holding a gun coming through the doorway. He “went down on his honkers” after the first shot was fired and then heard more bangs coming from the gun.

He said Mr Taylor started to “make a run” at the shooter from the corner of the room but he fell over “in a split second” and came crashing down beside him. “Pete said ‘get me an ambulance, get me an ambulance,” he told the jury. He said the shooting from the gunman “pretty much stopped straight away” after Mr Taylor fell to the ground.

Mr Hunter estimated that around six or seven shots were fired. He said the shooter was “more or less beside” him but the doorway was covering him so he only saw the shooter’s arms coming through it. The gunman was wearing a black helmet, black gloves and a black leather jacket, he noted.

When asked by Mr Murray how the gunman seemed when the shots were being fired, Mr Hunter said he was calm.

Under cross-examination, Mr Hunter agreed with defence counsel Cathal McGreal BL that he had said in his statement that he could not be “100 per cent sure” if the gunman’s visor on the helmet had been up or down.

‘Firecrackers’

Polish-native Mr Bak, who gave evidence via video link from Germany, said he had been living in Ireland permanently in 2018. That morning was his first time attending the gym. He was introduced to a few people before the class began and was paired with Mr Messett.

He said Mr Taylor was about to start the workout and was putting the music on when he heard something “like firecrackers”.

“I looked very quickly to the left and saw blood coming out, I didn’t know where. My brain luckily reacted in the way, I ran immediately to the right, I ran into the changing room. This is where I hid myself and locked myself. Only after when everyone was gone, someone said ‘you can come out, it’s all good now’, this is the moment I left the toilet,” he recalled.

When he came out of the changing room, Mr Bak said he saw Mr Messett’s body in front of the machine, which he described as “lying there”.

He said he had heard “a handful of firecrackers” and the incident had lasted a couple of seconds. “My only concern was to escape, I escaped to the toilet which wasn’t really a great solution,” he said.

When asked if he was able to hear anything inside the toilet, Mr Bak said he couldn’t remember and “could only remember thinking I am going to die basically.”

“I can’t remember if I could hear anything, I wasn’t concentrating about hearing anything,” he added.

In cross-examination, Mr Bak agreed with Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, defending, that he wanted to get his personal belongings after the incident but didn’t want to go back into the changing room again so he asked a garda to retrieve them.

When asked how long after the shooting did the garda get his helmet, backpack and jacket from the changing room, Mr Bak said it was about a half-an-hour later but “it’s very hard to say as my heart is beating”.

In re-examination, Mr Murray asked the witness if he had gone into the gym again to get his belongings or did he just stand at the door. “I stand at the doors and the moment I saw Bobby’s body I turned around and left. I went as far as upstairs and saw the body and turned back as I couldn’t handle it,” he said.

‘Loud bangs’

Gym-goer Linda Gill said she heard “really loud bangs” in the gym that morning and felt a panic in the room. When she turned around she saw Mr Messett on the ground and someone in the doorway. She said everyone was dropping to the ground so she grabbed her young gym partner and pulled her down.

She added: “Pete came from behind me and was running towards the guy at the door like he was going after him. I remember Pete falling back into the door and could see he’d been shot. As soon as Pete got hit it felt like the shooter was gone.”

When asked at what point did the shooting come to an end, Ms Gill said she had heard the first few shots when she had her back to the door and a few more when on the ground. “Only after Pete had been shot and fell back in is when they stopped completely,” she added.

On Tuesday, boxing trainer Mr Taylor testified that he was “within touching distance” of the gunman when he was shot, spun 180 degrees and fell to the floor where he lay unable to move due to the pain. He said that he felt one bullet “whizz” past his head as he ran towards the gunman who was standing in the doorway of the gym.

In his opening address, Mr Murray said that a “lone gunman” walked into Bray Boxing Club before 7am on June 5th and fired nine shots from a semi automatic pistol “in quick succession” in “varying directions” in the confined place, leaving one man dead and two other men injured.

Mr Messett was fatally shot in the head during the exercise class and the organiser of the class Mr Taylor and class participant Mr Britton were shot in the bodies and survived.

It is the State’s case that Mr Cervi was the gunman and that he intended to commit murder that day.

Mr Murray said in his opening that if a person makes a mistake, or kills the wrong person, it is still murder if there was intent to kill a person.

The trial continues on Thursday in front of Mr Justice Michael White and a jury of three men and nine women.