Dissident republican died of 'catastrophic' brain injuries after being shot in the head, trial hears

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Dissident Republican Died Of 'Catastrophic' Brain Injuries After Being Shot In The Head, Trial Hears Dissident Republican Died Of 'Catastrophic' Brain Injuries After Being Shot In The Head, Trial Hears
Michael Barr was shot a total of seven times while attending the Sunset House Pub, which was holding a raffle for the families of republican prisoners on the night he was murdered in 2016
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Paul Neilan

Dissident republican Michael Barr died of "catastrophic" brain injuries after being shot five times in the head at a north inner-city Dublin pub, a murder trial at the Special Criminal Court has been told.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, former acting State Pathologist Dr Micheal Curtis said Mr Barr, a father of five, was shot a total of seven times while attending the Sunset House Pub, which was holding a raffle for the families of republican prisoners on the night he was murdered in 2016.

At around 9.30pm on April 25th, 2016, Mr Barr was socialising at the pub, where he was a manager, when two armed males burst in wearing what have been described as 'Freddy Krueger' or Halloween masks.

Christopher Slator (37) of Carnlough Road, Cabra, Dublin 7, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Barr at the pub. He is the third man to go on trial at the non-jury court for the murder.

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On Wednesday, Dr Curtis told the three-judge court that during his post-mortem he found five bullets still lodged in Mr Barr's head. One bullet had passed upwards through Mr Barr's shoulder blade creating an exit wound in the back of his neck while another went through his left thigh, missing the femur bone.

Dr Curtis told Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, that he attended the scene at the pub on the morning of April 26th, 2016, the day after the shooting, and that he saw a male lying on his back in a "considerable" amount of blood with a cloth or blanket over his body.

'Catastrophic'

The witness said that he performed the post-mortem examination of Mr Barr's body that afternoon and found three "obvious" gunshot wounds to the right jaw of Mr Barr upon his initial inspection.

Dr Curtis said that two more gunshot wounds were visible to the right side of Mr Barr's head behind the temple.

He said that there was "heavy blood soak" around the head and left leg of the deceased, who was found to have a modest amount of alcohol in his system and was drug-free.

The witness said that all the wounds were consistent with gunshot injuries and that three wounds were in very close proximity and travelled through the skull "almost in confluence".

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The five bullets recovered from the body of Mr Barr had lodged in his skull, he said.

There were also powder markings on Mr Barr's face, which indicated that the shots were fired from a few feet away, said Dr Curtis.

Dr Curtis said that the bullets caused "catastrophic" injury to the brain, which was "incompatible" with life. He concluded that the cause of death was "multiple gunshot wounds".

Witness Jason Kennedy, an advanced paramedic with Dublin Fire Brigade, said he attended the scene and was directed by gardaí towards a male casualty near the bar.

Mr Kennedy told Mr McGinn that the deceased had suffered injuries consistent with gunshot wounds to his lower cheek and jaw on his right side.

Mr Kennedy said that Mr Barr was lying in a pool of blood and that he had suffered a "catastrophic haemorrhage" due to a "massive head trauma" and that his pupils were "fixed and dilated".

Mr Kennedy said that brain matter could be seen on the floor next to Mr Barr's body and that he could not be resuscitated.

Firearms recovered

In his opening speech, Mr McGinn said that on the night of the murder gardaí went to the scene of a burning Audi at nearby Walsh Road in Drumcondra "before the fire had taken hold".

He said gardaí were able to recover four firearms, two of which will be shown, through ballistics, to have been used in the shooting.

Mr McGinn said the State will show that boiler suits, full "theatrical head masks with a face on the front" and a balaclava were also recovered from the Audi.

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Mr McGinn said it is the State's case that three DNA profiles taken from masks and balaclavas in the car revealed Mr Slator's profile to be present on a mask and a pair of gloves.

Another DNA profile from the masks and a baseball cap, said counsel, belonged to Eamon Cumberton, of Mountjoy Street, Dublin 7, who was jailed for life for the murder in 2019.

In November 2020, David Hunter (43) of Du Cane Road, White City, London, was also jailed for life for the murder of Mr Barr but has since appealed the conviction.

The trial continues before Ms Justice Tara Burns, presiding at the three-judge court with Judge Sinéad Ní Chúlacháin and judge Marie Keane, on Thursday.

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