Accelerant found at post-mortem in Louth double murder trial

Central Criminal Court

Natasha Reid


Natasha Reid

Accelerant found at post-mortem in Louth double murder trial

Accelerant found at post-mortem in Louth double murder trial

The jury in a Louth double murder trial has heard that partly evaporated petrol vapour was found on a sample taken during the post-mortem examination of one of the bodies

A forensic scientist gave the evidence to the Central Criminal Court today in the trial of a 34-year-old Dublin man, charged with murdering two car thieves.

Jason O’Driscoll, with an address at Richmond Avenue, Fairview, has pleaded not guilty to murdering 31-year-old Anthony Burnett and 25-year-old Joseph Redmond at Ravendale in Co Louth on March 7th, 2012.

The trial has heard that firefighters were called to a burning car in Ravensdale Forest Park shortly before 11 o'clock that night. The bodies of the two Dubliners were discovered inside, with gunshot wounds to their heads.

Dr John O’Shaughnessy testified that he examined fire debris from the scene and post-mortem for the presence of accelerants.

The forensic scientist told Alexander Owens SC, prosecuting, that he found partly evaporated petrol vapour on a sample taken from the post-mortem exam of ‘Body A’. This was a sample of fire debris, including burnt fabric, he explained.

He said he also found partly evaporated petrol vapour and partly evaporated paraffin oil vapour in a sample that came from under the car.

He explained that the paraffin oil vapour could have come from something, such as a plastic, burning. However, the petrol vapour had to have come from petrol, he said.

He agreed with Seán Guerin SC, defending, that he would frequently examine samples from a car burnt out in a murder case.

He was asked if it was rare that he’d be dealing with the vehicle in which people had been killed.

“In my experience yes,” he said, confirming that it would usually be the getaway vehicle that would be burnt out.

The trial also heard from a forensic scientist, who examined mats from an abandoned silver Mercedes, which the prosecution said was the getaway vehicle.

Dr Thomas Hanigan told Mr Owens that he examined the mats for the presence of firearms residue.

“I did not find any particles characteristic of firearms residue on the mats,” he said. “Particles consistent with having arisen from the discharge of a firearm were recovered from the mats.”

He explained that ‘consistent’ particles could be found in items other than firearms residue.

“These findings provided weak support for the suggestion that the shooter travelled in the silver Mercedes after the shooting, rather than he did not,” he said.

Under cross examination by Mr Guerin, he agreed that ‘weak support’ was at the bottom of the scale he was using.

The trial then moved on to mobile phone data analysis. The evidence was provided by Eddie McGoey, Senior Crime and Policing Analyst with An Garda Síochána.

He testified that his objectives were to show contact between eight phone numbers of interest on the day of the killing.

He prepared a chart that summarised the contacts for the jury. He included CCTV footage showing the movement of people near a payphone of interest in a Newry hotel that evening, and showing phone credit being purchased in a shop in the same city on other occasions.

He also showed where the Meteor top-up number had been dialled by two of the numbers during times covered in the shop footage.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of eight men and four women.