Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan’s car was being tracked for weeks before he was shot dead, the Special Criminal Court has heard.
He was killed after being spotted at the funeral of Eddie Hutch, according to evidence at the trial of murder accused Jason Keating (27).
It is the prosecution’s case that a Gotek tracking device was put under Mr Kirwan’s car in the weeks leading up to his killing and this can be linked to the accused.
A number of shell casings were recovered immediately after the incident but detectives’ interest turned to the tracking device which was fixed to the undercarriage of Mr Kirwan’s car.
The device was found by gardai on the day after the shooting and its contents were downloaded by a garda expert, prosecution counsel Paul Greene said.
“It gave the GPS history of the tracking device’s movements for a significant period of time,” he said.
The barrister said this tracker was powered up at a location in the vicinity of central London in October 2016 and thereafter in the French port of Calais.
By October 18 it was pinging in Leeds and two days later it pinged at Holyhead in Wales before arriving in Dublin port.
On November 3 it was pinging in Dublin 1 and by that evening it was positioned in Crumlin and later in Sandyford.
There will be evidence, Mr Greene said, that by November 8 the device was positioned at St Ronan’s Drive in Clondalkin, very close to Mr Kirwan’s home.
He owned a BMW at the time and the device tracked his “known movements” between November 8 and December 13.
The court will also hear evidence that Mr Kirwan traded in his BMW for a Ford Mondeo on December 13.
On that date the tracker pinged from a car sales address in Clondalkin which was of “some significance”, said Mr Greene.
He also indicated that gardai established that the BMW was moved to a car dealership in Naas and the tracker device pinged from there until December 20.
The court heard there would be further evidence that the tracker was moved on December 20 and by December 21 it was again pinging in St Ronan’s Drive.
The killing arose from a “notorious feud” between two criminal factions but the victim had no connection with either side, the court was told.
A photo of Mr Kirwan (62) pictured beside his “long-time” friend Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch was used by several newspapers in the lead-up to his death,
Mr Kirwan was sitting in a car outside his house in St Ronan’s Drive on December 22, 2016 when he was shot several times.
His partner Bernadette Roe was in the passenger seat but was not injured in the shooting.
Mr Keating (27), of Lower Main Street, Rush, Co Dublin, has appeared before the three-judge court accused of murder.
When arraigned he stood up and pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Kirwan.
Ms Roe gave evidence that she had lived in St Ronan’s Drive for the past 38 years.
She had known Mr Kirwan “all her life” as their fathers worked in the docks together.
She began a relationship with him six years before he died.
Ms Roe said he moved in with her soon after they got together and said she was not aware that he had difficulties with anyone.
She said Mr Kirwan was the happiest she had seen him in ages and she remembered him admiring the Christmas lights at the back of their house when they pulled up at 5.05pm.
She testified that she heard a bang but thought it was someone breaking a window.
Mr Kirwan cried out that he had been shot and his head then hit hers, she said, beginning to sob.
Ms Roe said she ran from the car and saw the gunman jump inside a white van as it drove away.
“I screamed for help, I couldn’t go back to him [Mr Kirwan],” she said.
She was concerned about an article that appeared in a newspaper before Christmas with the headline ‘Kinahan thugs smash up house of the Monk’s friend’.
Ms Roe agreed with prosecution counsel Mr Greene that, while the piece did not name her partner, it concerned a family issue and was not caused by the feud.
She also agreed that Mr Kirwan had previously been photographed at a funeral with his friend Gerry Hutch.
“Everyone from the community went to the funeral. If he [Mr Kirwan] had taken two steps forward he would not have been photographed,” she said.
Under cross-examination by Michael Bowman SC, defending, Ms Roe agreed that Mr Kirwan was photographed because “somebody else” was beside him and the newspapers “did not have the decency” to take him out of the picture.
Earlier in his opening address, Mr Greene said Mr Kirwan was christened Christopher Kirwan but he was known all his life as ‘Noel’.
He said the court would hear evidence that Mr Kirwan had grown up in the north inner city. He was a widower and had a number of children, Mr Greene added.
The day of the killing was an “unremarkable day”, the court heard, and a family friend had offered to treat Mr Kirwan and Ms Roe to a meal in Montos restaurant in Crumlin.
Mr Kirwan drove himself and his partner to the restaurant before returning to their home that evening.
The barrister said the court would hear evidence that an assailant armed with a Makarov firearm discharged six shots into Mr Kirwan as he was parking his Mondeo in St Ronan’s Drive at 5.07pm. He was pronounced dead at 6.38pm by a doctor who arrived at the scene.
Counsel told the court that Mr Kirwan had been the subject of a small amount of media attention when he was identified in a press photo some time earlier in the company of Gerry Hutch. They had grown up together in the same area, he added.
It appeared that Mr Kirwan’s death arose from the notorious feud between two criminal factions, Mr Greene said, but he had no connection with either faction.
Counsel said the evidence would be that gardai immediately responded to an emergency call and were met by Ms Roe and her neighbours.
The court will also see CCTV footage of Ashleaf Shopping Centre in Crumlin and Neilstown Shopping Centre which are close to the scene of the shooting, said counsel.
The trial resumes today before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Sinead Ni Chualachain and Judge Cormac Dunne. It is expected to last four weeks.