Dublin shooting victim had been cleared of murder in contentious circumstances

Evidence in trial of Christopher Zambra not accepted and now under investigation

As the chairman of the jury read out a not guilty verdict at the end of the two-month murder trial of Christopher Zambra last June, a woman in the body of the court shouted abuse at them.

“May God forgive you,” she screamed.

Dubliner Zambra, who had just been told he would not face the life term of imprisonment mandatory for a murder conviction, hugged his family and legal team and walked calmly from the court dressed in a smart suit.

It was a dramatic end to a very lengthy and contentious affair. Indeed, aspects of the case are now under investigation by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

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Zambra, shot dead in Dublin yesterday, was accused of organising and putting €30,000 forward to pay for the murder of a man who specialised in smuggling drugs into the State on behalf of criminal gangs.

John Carroll, from Charlemont Street in Dublin's south inner city, was owed vast amounts of money by the criminal gangs for whom he shipped illicit drugs by air and sea into the State. And some wanted him dead rather than pay up.

When he was fatally shot in Grumpy Jacks Pub in the Coombe area of Dublin on February 18th, 2009, he was found to have a checklist in his pocket; a tally of money owed to him of €240,000. Gardaí believe this was just a portion of what he was owed.

The trial of Zambra for the killing centred on the evidence of Joseph O’Brien, who testified he had two meetings with Zambra and others in the days before the murder.


Motorbike driver
Mr O'Brien said Zambra asked him to source a motorbike to use in the killing and to burn it out afterwards. He said Zambra also chose the gunman and the motorbike driver who brought that gunman to and from the scene.

Mr O’Brien admitted his involvement in the killing but was never charged. He was granted a form of immunity and testified knowing that nothing he said in court could be used against him. He is now in witness protection and lives outside the jurisdiction.

All sides warned the jury about Mr O’Brien. Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy described him as a serial perjurer and liar who was guilty of murder himself.

There was also much criticism of gardaí, in the second and previous trial, over how they had dealt with Mr O’Brien as an informer.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times