Judge hears how man was 'executed' by shotgun killer as he lay in bed at his Derry home
A judge in the trial of a Londonderry man accused of "executing'' Barry McCrory with a shotgun as he lay in bed has been shown chilling footage of a gunman entering the home.
Kieran McLaughlin (60) of Elaghmore Park, Galliagh, denies murdering Mr McCrory on October 10, 2013 at a block of flats in Shipquay Street where he was in bed with his partner.
He further denies possessing a sawn-off, 12 bore double-barrelled shotgun, shotgun cartridges, a Mauser self-loading pistol and ammunition with intent to endanger life - and possessing an imitation Walther pistol between October 9 and October 17, 2013.
However, McLaughlin had pleaded guilty last Friday to possessing the shotgun, pistol and ammunition in suspicious circumstances on the same dates.
At Belfast Crown Court yesterday, prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC told Mr Justice Horner, who was sitting alone in the non-jury Diplock trial, that Mr McCrory was at his one-bedroomed flat at Shipquay Street on the morning of October 10, 2013.
He said that just before 10.30am, CCTV cameras captured a figure walking up Shipquay Street, going to the door of No 7 and pressing the intercom buzzer to gain access.
The judge watched the footage and also a video recording of a man entering the premises carrying a ruck sack and wearing a beanie hat who "ascended the flight of stairs" to flat No 7.
The footage showed a man removing a rucksack, putting on a pair of black gloves, knocking on the door six times, before the door opens and he enters. Less than a minute later, the man leaves the flat and heads down the stairs and back out onto Shipquay Street.
The court was told that at 10.43am, police received a 999 call about a shooting at the flat and that "a male had entered the flat wearing a black bomber jacket, gloves, a black beanie hat, was wearing safety goggles and had shot dead Barry McCrory".
The victim's partner later told police that when she answered the door, a man "disguised with large goggles'' entered the flat and forced her to lie down on the living room floor. "He left her in the living room. She heard him shouting 'drug dealing scumbag' and then she heard four loud bangs coming from the living room. The male leaves the flat a short time later,'' said Mr Murphy QC. "Ultimately, she contacted a neighbour who found Barry McCrory with a number of fatal gunshot wounds lying face down on the bed."
The court heard a post mortem examination revealed that Mr McCrory sustained four shotgun wounds from a range of two metres or less - two to the back of the head, one to the upper chest and one to the lower back. The deputy state pathologist said the two gunshot wounds to the head caused extensive fractures to the skull and severe damage to the brain, adding that death would have been "rapid''.
The court heard that a man matching McLaughlin's description was captured on CCTV getting into a taxi in the city centre a short time after the murder. The taxi driver told police that he picked up a man who said he was going to attend a funeral at St Joseph's Catholic Church in Galliagh.
"The driver spoke to this person and he recognised his voice. It was a Derry accent. He said he had worked with him two years previously. He said to his passenger: "Did you work in Rosemount Taxis?" He remembered his name as 'Kevin'. He said McLaughlin denied it was him saying 'No. No'.''
The taxi driver told police his passenger was wearing a pair of clear safety glasses, like a workman's glasses, a blue and grey scarf, and a dark coat. He added that he was also wearing blue/grey gloves and had a long back bag.
The court heard that when the taxi arrived at St Joseph's Church, the driver noticed there was no funeral taking place and 'Kevin' told him to drive round to the back of the church where he got out.
Mr Murphy said the area around the flat in Shipquay Street was cordoned off for a detailed forensic examination and a hunt was launched for the suspect who had been identified by police as Kieran McLaughlin but he was not apprehended.
Mr Justice Horner heard that police carried out a search of McLaughlin's home at Elaghmore Park the day after the shooting and officers found a balaclava and a number of pairs of gloves in a spare room. Inside the meter box in the hallway, officers also found black woollen gloves and two pairs of safety glasses.