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'Completely unsatisfactory' Family of man shot by neighbour in error 'distraught' at 'lack of justice'

"In general the family are distraught at the fact that no justice whatsoever was done in connection with the fatal shooting of their brother"

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Brendan Kilduff

Brendan Kilduff

Brendan Kilduff

THE FAMILY of a farmer shot to death by his 87-year-old neighbour after the pensioner mistook him for a burglar have described the DPP's refusal to prosecute the case as "impossible to understand".

The family have also criticised the inquest held into their loved one's death for failing to hear direct evidence from witnesses - effectively denying them any forum to have their questions about their loved one's killing answered.

Brendan Kilduff (67) was fatally wounded by Martin Caulfield at the then 85-year-old's home Coogue, Aghamore, Co. Mayo, when he discharged a double-barrelled shotgun a number of times through the glass panels of his bungalow door.

The tragic incident occurred just before midnight on September 19, 2019, when Brendan, a farmer and former mechanic went to visit Mr Caulfield.

Last month, an inquest into Mr Kilduff's death returned a verdict of 'homicide.'

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Martin Caulfield who shot through the glass panels of his front door and killed his friend Brendan Kilduff after mistaking him for an intruder

Martin Caulfield who shot through the glass panels of his front door and killed his friend Brendan Kilduff after mistaking him for an intruder

Martin Caulfield who shot through the glass panels of his front door and killed his friend Brendan Kilduff after mistaking him for an intruder

But Mr Caulfield is now back living in his cottage as the DPP has declined to take any further action in relation to the shooting.

Solicitor John Brady who acts for the family of 57-year-old Brendan Kilduff, said: "In general the family are distraught at the fact that no justice whatsoever was done in connection with the fatal shooting of their brother.

"Not only was the decision of the DPP not to prosecute impossible to understand, the inquest into the fatal shooting of their brother was completely unsatisfactory as no direct evidence was given or available with regard to what actually happened on the night in question."

Today, the Sunday World can reveal the reason the DPP decided not to go ahead with a prosecution in the case.

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Brendan Kilduff's car pictured being removed from the scene of the shooting

Brendan Kilduff's car pictured being removed from the scene of the shooting

Brendan Kilduff's car pictured being removed from the scene of the shooting

It's understood a number of senior lawyers in the Office of the DPP examined the Garda file with a view to assessing whether there was a reasonable chance of obtaining a conviction based on the available evidence.

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Possible offences of murder and manslaughter were examined.

Advice was also sought by the Office of the DPP from a Senior Counsel, described as having considerable experience in criminal law.

The lawyers considered whether Mr Caulfield would succeed in raising a defence under the Criminal Law (Defence of the Dwelling) Act 2001.

The Act provides that it is not an offence for the occupier of a dwelling to use force where the force used is only such as is reasonable in the circumstances as he or she believes them to be.

According to evidence given before last month's inquest, Mr Caulfield discharged three gunshots through the front of his door.

Brendan Kilduff managed to return to his car which was parked by the roadside. He drove a short distance before collapsing.

Chief State Pathologist, Dr Linda Mulligan told the inquest said there was a cluster of pellet wounds concentrated on the chest with occasional stray pellets in the right and left upper arm, neck and lower face,

The gunshot wounds had involved the internal organs, including the heart and were directly responsible for death.

Dr Mulligan gave the cause of death as shotgun wounds to the torso.

Lawyers for DPP Claire Loftus are understood to have examined the accounts given by Mr Caulfield that he believed himself under attack when he fired.

They concluded it is the subjective belief of the suspect as to whether he honestly believed that his house was being robbed which a jury must consider and not whether his actions were objectively necessary by the standards of a reasonable person.

The DPP's lawyers subsequently concluded in the case of Mr Caulfield that a jury would be likely to accept this defence and so there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction.

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Martin Caulfield who shot through the glass panels of his front door and killed his friend Brendan Kilduff after mistaking him for an intruder.

Martin Caulfield who shot through the glass panels of his front door and killed his friend Brendan Kilduff after mistaking him for an intruder.

Martin Caulfield who shot through the glass panels of his front door and killed his friend Brendan Kilduff after mistaking him for an intruder.

It's understood, in the wake of the DPP declining to take a prosecution, Brendan Kilduff's family sought a review of the decision.

In April of this year, the family were informed the DPP had reviewed her decision and having given the matter careful consideration decided her original decision not to prosecute was correct.

This meant the family's only avenue for ascertaining the full circumstances of Brendan's death was at his inquest.

At the outset of the inquest last month, solicitor John Brady, representing Mr Kilduff's family, claimed that from the book of statements it was clear there was a significant deficit in the information that was being put to the jury.

Mr Brady said he did not believe the jury would be in a position to determine the entirety of the matter on the basis of the evidence that would be presented to them.

The evidence was hearsay at best, he said.

He called for an adjournment of the hearing so that other gardaí involved in the investigation could be called as witnesses.

This application was refused by the coroner on the grounds that the purpose of an inquest is to establish the facts following a death and make findings on the identification of the deceased, the date and place of death and the cause of death.

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