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Murder trial Boxing coach Pete Taylor ran towards gunman to 'protect people' before being shot, court hears

Gerard Cervi (34) is on trial charged with the murder of Bobby Messett during an exercise class at the boxing gym in Bray, Co Wicklow, on June 5, 2018

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Pete Taylor

Pete Taylor

Pete Taylor

A gym goer who was injured during the Bray Boxing Club gun attack has told a court that Pete Taylor ran towards the gunman before being shot.

Ian Britton said he believed the boxing coach approached the armed man to "protect the people in the gym" when the shooting started.

Another witness, fire fighter Eddie McCann, told the Central Criminal Court that the gunman "looked like he didn't know what he was doing."

Gerard Cervi (34) is on trial charged with the murder of Bobby Messett during an exercise class at the boxing gym in Bray, Co Wicklow, on June 5, 2018.

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Gerard Cervi

Gerard Cervi

Gerard Cervi

 

He is also accused of the attempted murders of coach Pete Taylor and class participant Ian Britton at the same location on the same date.

Mr Cervi, of no fixed abode but originally from the East Wall area in Dublin 3, has pleaded not guilty to all charges. It is the State's case that he was the gunman.

This morning Ian Britton told the jury of the moment him, Pete Taylor and Mr Messett were shot.

He was inside the exercise room on the first floor when he noticed a man at the entrance door with his back turned to him.

Mr Britton described this individual as wearing a hi-vis jacket, grey tracksuit bottoms, and a builder's hat while holding a gun.

The witness told the jury that Eddie McCann "said something" and the gunman raised the weapon.

He said the gunman was "scanning" the room before moving the weapon towards Bobby Messett and shooting.

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Mr Britton told the court he was "in shock" and got onto the floor and pulled his leg up to protect himself.

The jury were told there was a pause, which lasted between 5 and 10 seconds but "felt like forever".

He said "then the shots went off. Pete ran towards the guy, I think he was trying to protect the people in the gym".

The witness said was lying on the grounds and then felt a "fierce pain" in his hip area.

He couldn't recall the gunman leave, and said he crawled into Pete Taylor's office, before later being carried down the stairs to the exit by Eddie McCann.

Ian Britton said they had to step over Bobby Messett as they left and that Pete Taylor was lying "flat out" on the ground.

Under cross-examination from defence counsel Cathal McGreal BL, he said that he could not remember giving his statement to gardaí because it was the morning after his operation, but added that everything contained in it was fine.

Mr Britton also said he later met with a number of other people who were in the gym that day, including Eddie McCann, and they discussed what had happened.

His brother Matt was then called to give evidence by prosecuting counsel Paul Murray SC.

He said he dived to the ground when the shooting started and that it lasted up to 30 seconds.

"At the start I thought it was someone playing a prank until I had heard the first shot."

Matt Britton he said he didn't lift his head and stayed as still as he could, pretending to be dead.

He then ran into the office and, when he looked outside, saw Pete's partner pulling up in her car.

"I figured it was then safe to go," the witness told the court.

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Bobby Messett

Bobby Messett

Bobby Messett

 

He described the gunman as being stocky and around 5ft 10in in height, and said that the gun was rusted.

Under cross examination Mr Britton said he may have discussed the shooting with his brothers but that they "don't really talk about it".

Earlier firefighter Eddie McCann continued giving evidence and recalled being brought to hospital after the shooting.

Mr McCann said an ambulance arrived at the scene and he recognised the paramedic.

"He said to me 'Jesus Eddie you have nine lives'. I worked with him over the years.

"He was on the fire where the firemen were killed. I was on that, he remembered me from that."

The witness said there was blood on his t-shirt and a cut to his head, and he was brought by ambulance to St Vincent's Hospital.

Mr McCann said he was treated and that there was a smell of cordite from the shooting,

"The nurse got quite nervous then and asked for the armed garda to come into the hospital, they were afraid that something might happen," the jury were told.

He then saw Ian Britton being brought in on a trolley to the operating theatre, and held his hand while saying "you're alright mate".

Mr McCann also said that, because of what had happened, he never went back to the fire brigade where he worked for 20 years.

Eddie McCann previously said the gunman was wearing a hi-vis jacket and a builder's had. He added that he was "a slender man" who wasn't very tall, between 5ft 8in and 5ft 9in.

He said that there were seconds between the first shot and the other shots, but that it felt like an eternity.

"It looked like he didn't know what he was doing," Mr McCann said.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Michael White and a jury of 3 men and nine women this afternoon.

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