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Murder victim died from six gunshot injuries to his head, neck and trunk

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Court Reporter

Murder victim died from six gunshot injuries to his head, neck and trunk

Murder victim David Douglas died from six gunshot injuries to his head, neck and trunk after he was shot in broad daylight whilst standing in the doorway of his shoe shop in the capital, the Special Criminal Court has heard. 

The non-jury court was told on Thursday that five of the bullets had exited his body, whilst one bullet was recovered from the left side of his trunk and small pieces of metal were located around his elbow joint. 

Former State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy was giving evidence via video-link in the trial of Lee Canavan (31), who is charged with murdering Mr Douglas (55) at Shoestown, Bridgefoot Street, Dublin 1, on July 1, 2016. 

Mr Canavan with an address at Edenbrook, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Douglas. He also denies a second charge of criminal damage to a Suzuki Swift vehicle at Strand Road, Sandymount, on July 4, 2016, the property of Teresa Devoy.

It is the prosecution's case that this was a "meticulously and carefully planned assassination" and Mr Canavan was "the person who literally pulled the trigger" after entering Mr Douglas' shop shortly after 4pm on the day of the shooting.

Professor Cassidy told prosecuting counsel Sean Gillane SC that she conducted the post-mortem on Mr Douglas on July 2, the day after he was shot dead in the entrance of his shop.  The witness said she was provided with information concerning the circumstances of the victim's death and his medical history, which showed that his left kidney and spleen had been previously removed. 

Prof Cassidy said the 55-year-old sustained six gunshot injuries to the right side of his face, left side of his chin, left side of his neck, right upper chest, right side of trunk and right elbow. 

In her evidence, the expert witness said full body x-rays had been taken prior to the post-mortem in order to locate the bullets. She said five of the bullets had exited the body, while one bullet was recovered from the left side of his trunk and small pieces of metal had been found around his elbow joint. 

The witness noted that there was extensive damage to his upper and lower jaw and a small split in the skin on the back of his head was consistent with him collapsing in his shop. 

Mr Douglas' stomach was extended and filled with a curry meal, she said, adding that attempts had been made to resuscitate him. He had also recently taken cocaine. 

Prof Cassidy testified that the head injuries had caused some haemorrhage on the surface of the brain which was typical of the shock from bullets passing through his face and neck. His face also had extensive haemorrhaging due to the bullets travelling through his jaw. "The main vessels in his neck were found to be intact and there was no evidence of injury to his chest organs," she said.

In summary, the witness said that the victim had received six gunshot wounds to his head, trunk and arm. She noted that three of the shots were to the right side of the body and the other three were to the left side. "The exact order of the shots cannot be identified," she added. 

Prof Cassidy noted that the deceased's cause of death was gunshot injuries to his head, neck and trunk and a contributory factor was a gunshot to his right shoulder. 

Mr Gillane then read a statement from Katorina Moylan, who was the owner of a grey Mercedes-Benz in June 2016, into the record. Ms Moylan said she parked her car in the driveway of her house in Dublin around 8.45pm on June 22, 2016. The witness said she was woken up by an alarm going off at around 3.45am and when she looked out her window she saw a man getting into the driver's seat of her car and reversing down the driveway. A second man was hitting the front door of her house with a lumberjack tool and she called 999 after they fled the scene in her Mercedes. 

Opening the trial, prosecution counsel Mr Gillane said the stolen Mercedes was "ultimately the murder vehicle" and was parked "offside on the morning of the killing at Lullymore Terrace for later use" at around 3.54pm. Mr Gillane said the shooter had got into a waiting Mercedes on Oliver Bond Street that witnesses said had sped off. The Mercedes was then set alight near Carman's Hall in Dublin 8 and a number of items were removed from the Mercedes, including the "burned carcasses of mobile phones and a balaclava".

The barrister also said that the court would hear of the movements of four vehicles on the day and that evidence would be produced linking Mr Canavan, through a fingerprint and a DNA sample, to two cars involved.

Mr Canavan is the fourth person to appear before the courts charged in connection to the murder. 

In 2018, Frederick 'Fat Freddie' Thompson (41) was jailed for life by the Special Criminal Court for the murder of Mr Douglas. 

In 2019, Nathan Foley (22) of Maryland, Dublin 8, was jailed for six years after he pleaded guilty to assisting a criminal organisation by driving one of four cars and buying mobile phones used in the offence.

Gareth Brophy (26) was jailed in February 2020 for ten years by the Special Criminal Court for his role as getaway driver. 

The trial continues on Monday at the non-jury court before Mr Justice Michael MacGrath, presiding, sitting with Ms Justice Sinead Ní Chúlacháin and Mr Justice Dermot Dempsey.