Man found not guilty of attempted murder of love rival’s mother

Robert Lawlor acquitted of threatening ex-partner’s boyfriend and shooting a dog

A father of three has been found not guilty of threatening to murder his former girlfriend’s partner and of attempting to murder his mother

He was also acquitted of possessing a gun and of killing a dog.

The ex-girlfriend of Robert Lawlor (35) took to the stand during the trial, where she resiled from a statement she gave to gardaí alleging that her former partner had threatened to kill her boyfriend Derek Mitchell and his mother.

A jury at the Central Criminal Court took two hours and 40 minutes to find Mr Lawlor not guilty on all five charges against him.


Mr Lawlor nodded his head and mouthed, “thank you” in the direction of the jury as the court registrar read out the verdicts one by one.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott thanked the jury for their patience and exempted them from further service for five years.

Mr Lawlor with an address at the Rise, Laytown, Co Meath had pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of Fiona Mitchell at Moatview Avenue, Priorswood, Dublin on May 26th, 2018.

He also pleaded not guilty to the charge of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life at Moatview Avenue, Priorswood, Dublin on the same date.

He pleaded not guilty to making a threat to Rachel Kirwan at Donaghmede, Dublin on a date unknown between January 1st and January 31st 2018 to kill or cause serious harm to Ms Mitchell and her son Derek Mitchell.

He also denied shooting Ms Mitchell’s dog Chopper, endangering its health and welfare at Moatview Avenue, Priorswood on May 26th, 2018.

Fiona Mitchell told the jury that she she was at home when she heard her German Shepherd dog Chopper “going mad barking” in her back garden at approximately 1am on May 26th, 2018. She looked out her kitchen window and saw two men on her back wall.

She went to the patio doors for a closer look and said she saw Robert Lawlor facing her with a gun. She said her view of him was “100 per cent” and she had no doubt of who she had seen.

She ran, locked the door from the kitchen to the hall and screamed to her son Jason, who was playing Playstation in the sitting room, to get out of the house. Jason escaped to the front garden through a window and Ms Mitchell fled through the front door as she heard gunshots being fired.

Gardaí found four bullets, one which killed the dog, one on the back decking, another in the kitchen and one in the front garden that was fired from the kitchen and went through the front door.

While Ms Mitchell had never met Robert Lawlor, she said she had studied photographs and videos of him on Facebook and Instagram. She said she was told that Mr Lawlor had threatened to kill her so she wanted to know what he looked like. She described herself as “stalking” him on the internet since February 2018.

Defence barrister Patrick McGrath SC said Ms Mitchell’s evidence was “neither reliable nor truthful”. He warned them that identification evidence is dangerous and particularly so when a witness insists they are 100 per cent certain they are right.

The prosecution said Ms Mitchell had been consistent from the evening of the shooting that she saw Mr Lawlor and could identify him because she had been “stalking” him on the internet.

Rachel Kirwan told gardaí in May 2018, following the shooting, that she started seeing Mr Lawlor 12 years previously and had two children with him. At the time of the statement she was going out with Ms Mitchell’s son Derek Mitchell.

In her original statement, which she later retracted, she described Mr Mitchell as the “complete opposite” of Robert Lawlor, adding that “nothing bothers him, he’s always smiling, nothing is ever too much trouble”.

She described how he would get up at 6.30am to go to work and in the evenings he would help her with the kids.

When Mr Lawlor found out she was in a relationship with Mr Mitchell, around Christmas 2017, she said there was an argument and Mr Lawlor started making threats. She said he threatened to kill Derek Mitchell’s mother and “leave him grieving for two weeks and then put him out of his misery”.

Ms Kirwan said Mr Lawlor also threatened to “blow his head off, blow his ma’s head off and leave him with nothing.” She said the threats were “constant from the minute he found out” she was in a relationship with Mr Mitchell.

On the night of the shooting Ms Kirwan received a phone call from Detective Garda Noel Smith to say that she should be careful, that Mr Lawlor was “extremely agitated”. She said she got nervous and had a “feeling he was going to hurt me and Derek”.

She spent much of the evening on the phone with Fiona Mitchell, Derek’s mother. They would call one another every 15 to 20 minutes. During one phone call she heard a dog barking in the background at Ms Mitchell’s house.

She heard Ms Mitchell say: “Hang on, why is that dog barking” and then she heard Ms Mitchell screaming: “He’s here, he’s here, it’s happening.” She then heard gunshots.

Ms Kirwan said: “I thought she was dead, I thought she was gone. If she had died I would have had to carry that around for the rest of my life.”

Taking the stand during the trial, Ms Kirwan told defence counsel Mr McGrath that when she made that statement she was lying.

She said she is still in a relationship with Mr Mitchell but it is “on and off” and problems have arisen from the “pressure and stress of all of this.”

She said it is not true that Mr Lawlor made threats to her towards Mr Mitchell and his mother.

She said that following the shooting Ms Mitchell told her there was no doubt Mr Lawlor was responsible and that there was fingerprint and DNA evidence to prove it. She said she felt “riddled with guilt and had to do and say whatever I could to get him off the streets”.

In interviews with gardaí, Mr Lawlor suggested that the Hutches or Kinahans could have been behind the attack in the Mitchell house.

He claimed that gangster Kane McCormack had hidden out in the Mitchell’s garden shed before he was shot dead in December 2017. This was denied by Ms Mitchell.