killer unmasked | 

Face of violent criminal jailed for life for murdering Michael Barr during Hutch/Kinahan feud

Michael Barr’s sister said the cartel had taken his life and his future and "all we have left are the memories."

Christopher Slator. Photo: RTE News

Michael Barr

Members of the Gardai with the remains of a man who was involved in a fatal shooting at the Sunset House pub in Summerhill, Dublin. Photo: gareth chaney Collins© Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Eoin ReynoldsSunday World

This is the violent criminal with 59 previous convictions who was yesterday jailed for life for the murder of dissident republican Michael Barr at the height of the Hutch/Kinahan feud.

On Friday, Christopher Slator (37) became the third man convicted of Mr Barr's murder after Ms Justice Tara Burns revealed the verdict of the three-judge, Special Criminal Court.

Having heard statements from Ms Barr and Ms O'Shea, Ms Justice Burns sentenced Slator to the mandatory term of life imprisonment.

Slator of Carnlough Road, Cabra, Dublin 7, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Barr at the Sunset House pub on Summerhill Parade in Dublin 1 on April 25, 2016. He is the third man to be convicted of the murder.

In November 2020, David Hunter (43) of Du Cane Road, White City, London, was also jailed for life for the murder of Mr Barr. Eamon Cumberton, of Mountjoy Street, Dublin 7 was jailed for life for the murder in 2019.

A fourth man, Martin Aylmer (36) of Casino Park, Marino, Dublin 3 was sentenced to a little under four years after he pleaded guilty to buying mobile phones for the gang who murdered Mr Barr. His sentence was later increased to six years by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Barr’s sister told the non-jury court that while the Kinahan cartel took Michael Barr's life when they shot him dead at the Sunset House pub in 2016, they didn't take his "lasting love and legacy".

In a statement read out at the sentence hearing, Noeleen Barr said that the drugs cartel that murdered her brother "do not understand the importance of a loving family. All that matters to them is drugs and wealth."

She said a family's love is more valuable than anything and she said she is proud to call the "loveable rogue" Michael Barr her brother.

Ms Barr described her brother as a devoted family man who was "decent, loving, charismatic and extremely witty." He was a gifted carpenter, an excellent cook, a charmer and a ladies' man.

She said he is "irreplaceable" and wrote of the "heart-wrenching pain that we feel every day. Not a day goes by that we don't think or speak about him." She said the cartel had taken his life and his future and "all we have left are the memories."

Mr Barr's partner Jade O'Shea also wrote a statement in which she said she was engaged to Mr Barr and had a daughter with him when he was murdered. Their daughter, she said, is "constantly talking about daddy" but now they have to endure the future without him.

Ms O'Shea was comforted by members of her family during the hearing. Slator's supporters blew kisses at him and said "love you" as he was led to the cell area by prison officers.

Michael Barr

Det Gda David Chapman told prosecution counsel Dominic McGinn SC that Slator has 59 previous convictions in Ireland and the UK including for possession of knives or offensive weapons, assault of a constable, violent behaviour in a garda station, assault causing harm and possession of drugs for sale or supply.

During the trial, Slator's lawyers argued that the prosecution had failed to prove that there was no innocent explanation for how his DNA ended up on a mask and runners that were found in the back seat of the car used by Mr Barr's murderers. Ms Justice Tara Buns disagreed, saying the only rational explanation for the DNA evidence is that he is guilty of murder.

The court also found that Slator fled the jurisdiction the day after the shooting by booking flights to Dubai with Eamon Cumberton, who has previously been convicted of Mr Barr's murder.

The two men returned to Ireland together about one month later. Ms Justice Burns said the flight was "extremely unusual" given that it was booked three hours ahead of departure and neither Cumberton nor Slator had any luggage or even a backpack or rucksack. She said the DNA evidence alone was enough to convict Slator but the "highly suspicious" flight provides further support for the conviction.

The trial heard there was "chaos and screaming" in the aftermath of the gun murder, which took place during a raffle for the families of Republican prisoners.

Members of the Gardai with the remains of a man who was involved in a fatal shooting at the Sunset House pub in Summerhill, Dublin. Photo: gareth chaney Collins© Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Revealing the court's verdict, Ms Justice Burns said that the prosecution relied on circumstantial evidence which, she said, proved that Mr Barr was murdered in a "planned and deliberate operation" involving at least three people - the two gunmen and a driver. The prosecution did not say which roles Slator, Hunter and Cumberton played.

Mr Barr was a manager of the pub, she said, but was socialising on the night he was shot. Two men dressed in dark clothing entered the pub with rubber masks over their heads and faces. They walked up to Mr Barr and one fired at him from close range. The other fired a shot but there was evidence that his gun then jammed and was not fired again. Mr Barr was shot seven times, five times in the head. The two men ran from the pub to the waiting car which drove away at speed to the Walsh's Road area of Drumcondra.

Ms Justice Burns said CCTV showed three men getting out of the car at Walsh's Road and removing coverings from their faces and discarding other items of clothing into the car. They attempted to light the car on fire but gardai arrived quickly and were able to put out the flames using fire extinguishers from their patrol cars. Gardai found a pair of runners in the back seat on top of the guns used in the shooting along with other clothing and the three masks.

Cumberton's DNA linked him with some of the items while Slator's DNA was found on the inside around the mouth of one of the masks where a DNA analyst said he would expect to find DNA from a person who had worn the mask. Slator's DNA was also found on the inside tongue and laces of the runners, again where the DNA expert said he would expect to find DNA from the wearer. Ms Justice Burns said the court rejected as "implausible" a defence suggestion that Slator's DNA could have been innocently in the car from a previous outing and gotten blown onto the mask and runners.

She said it "beggars belief" that the DNA could have been "randomly blown" around and landed on the tongue of the shoe and inside the mask at precisely the locations where you would expect to find the wearer's DNA. The court also rejected a defence suggestion that Slator's DNA was transferred to the items at a "logistics hub" on the North Circular Road where the mask and other items were likely stored in preparation for the murder.

The judge found that the joint effect of Slator's DNA being on both the mask and the runners and the runners being found on top of the guns used in the murder satisfied the court that the accused wore both and was involved in the murder of Mr Barr. There is, she said, no other rational explanation.

Today's Headlines

More Courts

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices