Alleged gunman who ‘executed’ David Douglas was ‘considerably’ involved in murder plan, court hears
The man who was allegedly the shooter who “executed” David Douglas five years ago was “instrumental” in the planning of the murder and “up to his neck”, judges at the Special Criminal Court have said.
ean Gillane SC, prosecutor, stressed that the actions of 31-year-old Lee Canavan could not be “separated” from the actions of Freddie Thompson, Gareth Brophy and Nathan Foley, all of whom were detained in connection with the murder of a Dublin man Mr. Douglas.
Mr Canavan, with an address at Edenbrook, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14, has pleaded not guilty of the murder of Mr Douglas, 55, who was shot six times on July 1, 2016 in Shoestown, Bridgefoot Street, Dublin 1.
The defendant also denies a second charge of criminal damage to a Suzuki Swift vehicle on Strand Road, Sandymount, on July 4, 2016, owned by Teresa Devoy.
Mr. Canavan is the fourth person to appear before the courts charged with the murder.
The state claims that Mr. Canavan was “the person who literally pulled the trigger” after entering Mr. Douglas’ store just after 4pm on the day of the shooting.
Sean Gillane SC closed the prosecution today, saying Mr Douglas was executed by a gun in the middle of the day on his business premises on a busy street.
He said the Dubliner was undoubtedly murdered, but the central question was who carried it out.
However, the attorney said the non-jury court needed to satisfy itself that there was a plan to carry out the murder in order to answer that question.
Mr Gillane stated that there was “overwhelming evidence” in the case and the only reasonable conclusion was that Mr Douglas’ murder had been “carefully planned”.
The procurement of four vehicles had logistically assisted the people who had committed the murder, and the use of a semi-automatic pistol with the serial number removed remained “brazen” at the scene next to the deceased’s head, he said.
Mr Gillane said the court needed to look at the key elements of the plan, its participants and their respective contributions to the incident.
The attorney reminded the three judges that a stolen Mercedes car, “the ultimate murder vehicle,” had no innocent purpose and transported the “ultimate trigger puller” to and from the crime scene.
The occupants of the Mercedes switched to a stolen silver Suzuki Swift, “the ultimate getaway car,” within minutes of the murder.
In addition, the attorney said a silver Ford Fiesta played an obvious role in “getting people” to and from the “Plan,” and a blue Mitsubishi Mirage rammed the Suzuki prior to its attempt on fire.
Mr. Gillane added, “Vehicles don’t commit murder, humans do, and while the court seeks an adequate judgment on Mr. Canavan, his actions cannot be distinguished from those of Freddie Thompson, Gareth Brophy and Nathan Foley be separated. ”
In the same way that a dancer and the dance cannot be separated, the lawyer said, the actions of the other men “fitted” into the case against the defendant. It is not a novel suggestion that people commit crimes together, he added.
In 2018, Frederick ‘Fat Freddie’ Thompson, 41, was imprisoned for life by the Special Criminal Court for the murder of Mr Douglas.
In 2019, Nathan Foley, 22, of Maryland, Dublin 8, was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to assisting a criminal organization by driving one of four cars and buying cell phones used in the crime .
Gareth Brophy, 26, was jailed by the Special Criminal Court in February 2020 for his role as a getaway driver for ten years.
Regarding Mr. Canavan, the attorney said his actions that day were “closely related to the commission of this crime” and that he contributed to the crucial end result, namely the murder of Mr. Douglas.
In addition, the movement of the vehicles that day proved beyond any doubt that they were “instruments of murder” and inextricably led to the conclusion that the occupants of the cars were participants in the plan and had acted together that day.
Mr Gillane said circumstantial evidence is important in the case and it would be a violation of common sense to treat the evidence as “pure accident” or “pure isolation”.
The plan was organized as a wheel, in the middle of which the killing and a series of spokes were woven in and out, beginning with the crucial starting point for the Fiesta and Suzuki, which were en route in the convoy on the morning of July 1.
This was the first major building block in the plan to assassinate Mr Douglas, and from that point on, he said, “he ticked.”
A man in a red top, gray bottom and umbrella shows up on Merton Avenue in the driver’s side of the Mercedes and is picked up by the driver of the Fiesta around 10:41, he said.
It is the prosecution case that the same man, Mr. Canavan, approaches a store on Donore Avenue and walks back towards the Fiesta, he said.
In addition, the attorney said the Suzuki was “accidentally” driven by a person in a red top that morning.
Mr. Gillane emphasized that Mr. Canavan was instrumental in the position of the murder vehicle, execution vehicle and getaway vehicle that morning at 10:41 am, and before that afternoon he was “up to his neck in this enterprise”.
At 3:55 p.m. that day the wheel was spinning with all the spokes going in and out of the central purpose of the plan, which was to assassinate Mr Douglas, he said.
Mr Gillane said the defense criticized eyewitness Shane Egan for giving Gardai a second statement clarifying that he did not see the shooter’s hair when his hood was up.
This is just not a secret, Mr Gillane said, and Mr Egan has admitted to Gardai that he may have made a mistake in his first statement telling Gardai that the shooter had dark hair.
Defense attorney Michael Bowman SC said the charge is that his client “was literally the man who pulled the trigger” and that there is a very real risk as it is “related to the color red”.
“We hear about the red tip so often that we automatically associate it with the person like there isn’t an alternate perspective,” Bowman said, adding that the court has been asked to determine whenever a red flash is seen then it can only be Mr. Canavan.
“The prosecution is that red is Lee Canavan because Lee Canavan wears red in law enforcement,” he argued, adding that the height of the state’s fall depends entirely on the red tip.
Referring to the evidence from Gda McAvinue and Det Sgt Whitelaw, Mr Bowman said there was a marked reluctance on their part to acknowledge the presence of what was most evident in the CCTV footage, namely the man’s “distinctive ginger hair.” .
Garda Patrick McAvinue and Detective Sergeant Adrian Whitelaw gave evidence of recognition at the trial last week for the identification of the accused in CCTV footage taped on the day of the murder.
The attorney said Gardai did not record what eyewitness Egan told them on the spot on July 1. Mr. Egan later confirmed to Gardai that he had concerns about his own identification of the shooter, the lawyer said.
He argued that a swab from the pistol grip of the gun contained identifiable DNA that was attributable to another man who was later arrested for the murder of Mr Douglas.
The attorney concluded by stating that none of his client’s connection with Thompson, Brophy, and Foley and the fact that he had dealt with vehicles in the past under circumstances where he was not entitled to be in those cars, too be, was new.
“If the court accepts that Mr Canavan drove cars that he was not allowed to drive, it has nothing to do with murder,” he added.
It was previously proven that the defendant had been linked to 22 vehicles and could not establish any property, taxes or insurance for these cars when he was stopped by Gardai.
Judge Michael MacGrath’s presiding judge, along with Judge Sinéad Ní Chúlacháin and Judge Dermot Dempsey, has held Mr Canavan in custody until May 20, pending a judgment on the case.
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