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Murder accused ‘bitterly regrets’ victim’s shooting

By Paul Higgins

A man accused of murdering a financial adviser in his own home “bitterly regrets” what happened, a court has heard.

But the widow of Geoff Kerr told a defence lawyer that his client’s “feelings or emotions are of no consequence to me”.

The lawyer had been putting to her that although 35-year-old Darren Kernohan “deserves no sympathy” for what he did, “he didn't go there to shoot anyone and when the gun went off, it was a complete accident”.

Mrs Kerr told the court she disagreed and said: “I hate to overstate the obvious, but if he had not come to my house in the first place we would not be here.”

Kernohan, from Moss Drive in Antrim, denies murdering financial adviser and gun enthusiast 60-year-old Geoff Kerr on April 27, 2009.

Earlier this week his co-accused 51-year-old Martin Fleming, from Churchill Road in Larne, was jailed for life after he pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Kerr.

It is the Crown case that the pair, with Kernohan armed with a handgun, went to the Kerrs’ home at The Village in Templepatrick just before 10pm to steal the numerous legally held firearms Mr Kerr had.

The jury of nine men and three women have already heard that in his defence statement, Kernohan claimed he did not know it was a real handgun and that it went off by accident.

Yesterday Defence QC Barry McDonald suggested to Mrs Kerr the gun could have gone off while Kernohan was being “pounded” by Mr Kerr with a large, heavy soup terrine china dish and when she retorted “so you are saying that it went off accidentally twice”, the lawyer confirmed that he was.

Mrs Kerr's youngest son Adam also gave evidence yesterday morning and he told the jury how he “bolted” downstairs when he heard a commotion.

He said he saw his father standing holding the large dish and that when he went into the kitchen, he saw Fleming standing at the back door, trying to open it.

“He (Fleming) turned and he pointed at me,” said Mr Kerr.

Believing at first that it was an actual gun being pointed at him, “I was fixated on his hand...I was petrified”, but it soon became clear it was only his hand.

As Fleming ordered him “forcefully” to get on the floor, he heard a gunshot from the hall where his father was and Fleming “made a beeline” to leave.

Under cross-examination, Mr McDonald asked him if Fleming appeared “startled” when he heard the gunshot, but Mr Kerr told him “his face displayed no shock or surprise”.

The trial continues.

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