Belfast Telegraph

Man ‘shot through the heart trying to defend his family’

A financial advisor was shot through the heart as he tried to defend his wife and family from two men who had forced their way into his home to steal guns, a jury has heard.

It was alleged that Darren Kernohan (35) and his accomplice Martin Fleming (51) demonstrated their “violent intent” from the moment they entered the property by pushing Sally Kerr against a wall with a gun to her head and “immediately threatening” her husband Geoff with the same weapon.

Prosecuting QC Ciaran Murphy told the Belfast Crown Court jury that, during the ensuing struggle with 60-year-old Mr Kerr, Kernohan fired two bullets at him, one passing through his chest and heart and out through his back.

As Kernohan left the scene of devastation at the Templepatrick home “he turned to Mrs Kerr and pointed his gun directly at her [Mrs Kerr]”, the court heard.

Mr Murphy said Fleming was equally guilty of murder as a secondary party to the joint enterprise to rob Mr Kerr's numerous legally held firearms because “he would clearly have realised that there was every possibility that the gun in the possession of Kernohan would be used that night”.

Kernohan, from Moss Drive, Antrim, and Fleming, from Churchill Road, Larne, both deny murdering Mr Kerr on April 27 last year. Kernohan has admitted assaulting Mrs Kerr, but Fleming denies that charge.

On Monday three other co-accused pleaded guilty to associated offences.

Mother and daughter Margaret Deery (63) and Siobhan Clyde (34), both from Willowtree Park in Newtownabbey, admitted charges of perverting the course of justice.

Deery told police that she had driven her daughter home on the day of the shooting but had in fact driven her to a hotel in Templepatrick. Clyde had claimed that her car had been stolen when in fact she had given it to Kernohan.

Laurence Desmond Kincaid (60), from the Upper Hightown Road in north Belfast, pleaded guilty to withholding information about the murder. He confessed to giving the killers a lift when they dumped the car which took them to the Kerr house.

In his opening statement yesterday, Mr Murphy described how Mr Kerr was in failing health as he suffered from an incurable cancer.

Mr Murphy declared there was “no doubt about what he [Kernohan] intended to do.

“They had gone to the home of Mr and Mrs Kerr with serious criminal intent ... to take by force the guns and ammunition legally held by Mr Kerr,” said the lawyer.

The trial continues.

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