Murder victim was worried about hooded men in dark clothes hanging out near his home
A man who was shot dead on a country lane was worried about men in dark clothes hanging out near his home, a witness at a murder trial told the Central Criminal Court today.
Gary Gonoude from Daingean was giving evidence at the trial of two men accused of murdering Christy Daly (47) at Bog Lane, Kilbride, Clara, Co Offaly on a date between December 29, 2013 and January 7, 2014.
Matthew Gralton (22), with an address at Mt Prospect in Co Roscommon, and Ross Allen (25), with addresses in Carrickmines, Co Dublin and Clara in Offaly, have pleaded not guilty to the murder.
Mr Gonoude told prosecuting counsel Patrick Marrinan SC that he towed a car to Mr Daly's home on December 29, 2013, the day he went missing. As they entered the laneway leading to Mr Daly's caravan he said they spotted "three or four lads" wearing dark clothes and with hoods over their heads. He said one of them looked Chinese and that he thought they had two dogs with them.
He said Mr Daly asked "what are these lads doing here?" and when they reached the caravan they spotted dog paw prints around the door of the home. "He said: "someone's probably tried to break into my caravan,"" said Mr Gonoude. "And then he went in to see if there was anything missing."
Mr Gonoude said he went into the caravan and spoke with Mr Daly for some time. They talked about Mr Daly's plans to get a house.
Mr Gonoude agreed with counsel for Matthew Gralton, Padraig Dwyer SC, that he had made three statements to gardai between January 8 and January 13, 2014.
Mr Dwyer said that in the first statement he did not mention seeing anyone in the laneway. Mr Gonoude said he forgot, but that he returned to the garda station on January 10 to tell gardai what he had seen.
Mr Dwyer said that Mr Gonoude knew that Mr Daly was dead when he gave his first statement to gardai. "Are you telling this jury that you simply forgot?" he asked. Mr Gonoude said that he gets "mixed up sometimes".
Mr Dwyer also put it to him that in his statement on January 10 Mr Gonoude had said he saw two men, but in court said he remembered seeing "three or four men". The witness said that he could not fully remember because "it was a long time ago".
Mr Dwyer also questioned Mr Gonoude's memory of one of the dogs he saw with the hooded men. In court Mr Gonoude told Mr Marrinan that he saw either a German shepherd or a pit-bull. He agreed with Mr Dwyer that in his original statement he had described seeing a husky.
Mr Daly's brother Michael Daly told Mr Marrinan that he last saw his brother on December 29, 2013. He said Christy called to his home in Navan and that they drank about six mugs of tea. His brother, who had recently been released from prison, told him he wanted to open a scrap yard.
He said: "He was in good form, he was always in good form."
Garda Patrick O'Connell of Tullamore Garda Station told Mr Marrinan that he collected CCTV footage from various locations in Offaly after Mr Daly's body was found.
The trial continues in front of Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of six men and six women tomorrow.
By Eoin Reynolds