A former murder accused-turned State witness has told the trial of his former co-accused that they’re “screwed” due to the “evidence stacked up against them”.
The Special Criminal Court ruled that his evidence was admissible in the trial of three Dublin men charged with murdering a dissident republican last year.
Peter Butterly was shot dead in the carpark of the Huntsman Inn, Gormanston, Co Meath around 2pm on March 6th, 2013.
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 murdering the 35-year-old father of two. Evans and McGrath have also pleaded not guilty to firearm offences on the same occasion.
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.
Cullen has already been dealt with by the court for lesser offences and is currently serving a three-and-half-year prison sentence.
Gardaí and the Prison Service put extra security arrangements in place for the giving of his evidence over the past few weeks. These caused long queues to form outside the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin.
He was cross examined by Bernard Condon SC, for Edward McGrath.
“Are you a sociopath?” asked Mr Condon.
“I don’t know what that means,” replied the witness.
He was asked if he cared about anyone else.
Cullen said he didn’t really care about anyone besides his family.
“Do you care about this court?” he was asked.
“Not really, to be honest,” he replied.
He said that he hadn’t meant it personally when he had described two gardaí in the case as ‘c*nts’.
He was asked if he would refer to nuns like that and he said he would.
“Solicitors?” asked Mr Condon.
“Possibly, yeah,” he replied.
“Judges?” he was asked.
“No,” he replied, to laughter in the body of the three-judge, non-jury court.
Mr Condon later asked him about his decision, following his arrest, to turn State’s witness and to apply for Witness Protection. He had already testified that he had googled the Witness Protection Programme on a mobile phone in his prison cell and that his application was still pending.
“I suggest that then, in the darkness of your cell, with your illicit mobile phone, that you hatched a plan,” said Mr Condon.
“The plan was: Help David Cullen; screw anyone else; truth be irrelevant,” continued the barrister.
“That’s not true,” replied Cullen. “The rest that are charged are screwed anyway. There’s evidence stacked up against them.”
Mr Condon suggested that he mind his own business.
The barrister noted that a detective had asked him in interview to describe himself in three words, but that he couldn’t.
“Can I suggest, those three words would be: ‘dishonest, self-serving’. Would you accept that?” he asked.
“At times, yeah,” replied Cullen.
The defence applied to have his evidence excluded, but the non-jury court ruled that it was admissible.
The trial has already heard that Mr Butterly was ‘lured’ to the car park that day by another man not before the court.
Shots were discharged at Mr Butterly’s vehicle. Further shots were discharged when he exited his car and attempted to flee.
He was found by a lone garda, collapsed in a corner of the car park, and was pronounced dead a short time later.
The trial continues before the three-judge court, with Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy presiding.