A man has pleaded guilty before the non-jury Special Criminal Court to helping an unlawful organisation murder dissident republican Peter Butterly.
Mr Butterly (35) was chased and shot outside The Huntsman Inn in Gormanston, Co Meath in view of students waiting for their school bus on the afternoon of March 6th, 2013.
Michael McDermott (59), of Riverdale House, Garrymore, Ballinagh, Co. Cavan admitted to knowingly rendering assistance to an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Óglaigh na hÉireann, directly or indirectly, in the performance or furtherance of an unlawful object, to wit, the murder of Peter Butterly, at diverse locations within the State, between March 3rd and March 6th, 2013, both dates inclusive.
McDermott had originally pleaded not guilty at the three-judge court to the murder and the trial has been under way since the beginning of October.
McDermott had also denied possession of a 9mm Beretta semi-automatic pistol with intent to commit murder and possession of seven rounds of 9mm ammunition on March 5th, 2013 at Blackthorn Apartments, Brackenwood Avenue, Balbriggan, Co Dublin.
Paul O’Higgins SC, prosecuting, told the court on Friday morning that McDermott was to be recharged on a scheduled offence under Section 49 of the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005.
State Solicitor Michael O’Donovan said the DPP had directed that McDermott be brought before the court and charged with this new offence which is contrary to Section 21a of the Offences against the State Act 1939.
Detective Garda Brian McCarthy gave evidence that he met McDermott before the court sat this morning and handed him a copy of the charge sheet, explaining the charge to him.
When the registrar put the new count to McDermott and asked him how he was pleading, he replied: “Guilty”.
A book of evidence was then served on the defendant.
Mr O’Higgins asked the court that a “nolle prosequi” be entered on the three charges which McDermott had originally been charged with. This means the State will not be proceeding with the prosecution in relation to these three other counts.
Padraig Dwyer SC, defending McDermott, told the three judges that this was a “fresh charge” and his client had obviously entered an early guilty plea.
Mr Justice Paul Coffey, presiding, said "for an abundance of caution" and incase the trial runs into the new term, he would fix a date for the final week of January.
Mr Justice Coffey, sitting, with Judge Martin Nolan and Judge James Faughnan, remanded McDermott in custody until January 28 2019, when he will be sentenced.
Hugh Hartnett SC, defending Frank Murphy, told the court that his client was not in attendance in court today but he had been released from hospital. Mr Hartnett said a similar situation will arise in respect of his client on Monday.
Mr Murphy was taken from court in an ambulance on Thursday morning after becoming unwell before the court sat. He was assessed by paramedics outside the courtroom and put on a stretcher before he was taken to the waiting ambulance.
Frank Murphy (58), of McDonough Caravan Park, Triton Road, Bettystown, Co Meath has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Butterly.
Mr Murphy has also pleaded not guilty to possession of a 9mm Beretta semi-automatic pistol with the intent to commit murder and possession of seven rounds of 9mm ammunition on the day of the killing.
The prosecution said the trial will go on against Kevin Braney but certain issues needed to be raised.
Bernard Condon SC, for Mr Braney, said he will be making an application for the court to discharge themselves as well as seeking an adjournment for the trial in light of what had happened this morning.
Kevin Braney (43) with a last address at Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght in Dublin has also pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Butterly.
Mr Braney also denies possession of a 9mm Beretta semi-automatic pistol with intent to commit murder and possession of seven rounds of 9mm ammunition on March 5th, 2013 at Blackthorn Apartments, Brackenwood Avenue, Balbriggan, Co Dublin.
The trial continues.