Car thief convicted of murdering dissident republican at Sunset House pub

ireland
Car Thief Convicted Of Murdering Dissident Republican At Sunset House Pub
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Alison O’Riordan

A globetrotting car thief has been convicted by the non-jury Special Criminal Court of murdering the manager of the Sunset House pub in Dublin over four years ago.

Liverpool native David Hunter (41), with an address at Du Cane Road, White City, London, had denied the murder of 35-year-old dissident republican Michael Barr at the Sunset House pub in Dublin's north inner city on the night of April 25th, 2016.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Alexander Owens said on Friday that the evidence had been heard in a "compelling way" that Hunter was one of the two gunmen who entered the Summerhill pub and murdered Barr by shooting him. Hunter's involvement in the murder had been "fully proved" and the three-judge court was "sure of his guilt", he remarked.

Ski-mask

The judge noted that the major part of a DNA profile taken from a ski-mask recovered during the investigation into the shooting of Mr Barr matched and verified the profile of Hunter. The circumstantial evidence in the case "pointed inextricably" to Hunter's guilt and the facts taken together had established the father-of-five's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and no other rational explanation could be drawn, indicated the judge.

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Mr Justice Owens said the court rejected Hunter's explanation for his whereabouts on the night and found it "implausible" with part of it being contradicted by other evidence. He also said the whole story of how Hunter came to lose his ski-mask "did not have a ring of truth about it" and there was no doubt that it was put into the car to either use at the murder or in the getaway car.

In a voluntary statement to gardaí, Hunter said that the ski-mask was his but that he had dropped it in a car driven by another man when he visited Ireland two months before the murder on a car-stealing exercise.

Hunter claimed he had used the mask on various ski trips with his children to Norway, France, Spain, Scotland, Austria and Switzerland. A number of holiday photos of Mr Hunter in a ski mask were handed into court during the trial.

"The DNA material attributed to Hunter and the matching DNA profile itself established a strong probability that Hunter was one of the murderers in the car," said the judge, adding that it was not a "credible explanation" that the ski-mask had been left behind by him on a previous trip to Dublin.

Second conviction

Hunter is the second man to be found guilty of murdering Mr Barr. In January 2018, Eamonn Cumberton (32), of Mountjoy Street, Dublin 7, was also convicted of murdering the Tyrone native.

Barr was shot seven times after two armed men wearing boiler suits and full rubber masks over their faces entered the Sunset House pub at around 9pm. He had been shot fives times in the head, once in the leg and once in the shoulder.

Mr Justice Owens will hand down the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment on November 2nd and remanded Hunter in custody until that date. He adjourned sentencing after counsel for the defence, Ms Lacey, asked for time to read the victim impact statements which will be submitted to the court.

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