A man who was previously acquitted by direction of IRA membership has been found guilty by the Special Criminal Court of disrupting the garda investigation into the "execution-type" murder of dissident republican Peter Butterly.
Ray Kennedy (40) of Whitestown Drive, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, had been accused of perverting the course of justice by destroying a mobile phone SIM card on March 6th, 2013, an item the State has said "would have been of very significant evidential value" to the murder investigation.
It was Kennedy's second trial in connection with the murder. In December 2019, after a 36-day trial, the non-jury court directed that Kennedy be found not guilty of IRA membership after gardai refused to release secret material in the case, despite a court ruling that it should be disclosed.
The three-judge court said today that Kennedy arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting, as there had been an arrangement for the two men to meet. It had been the State's case that Mr Kennedy's mobile had also been in contact with a burner phone, which was connected to the killing of the 35-year-old.
Paul O'Higgins SC, prosecuting, had told the judges that there was no other explanation but that Mr Kennedy had a "guilty involvement of some kind" in the incident, when he "wholly and intentionally destroyed" the SIM card at the scene of the killing.
Mr Butterly, a father of three, was shot dead shortly after 2pm in the car park of the Huntsman Inn at Gormanston, Co Meath on March 6th, 2013, in view of students waiting for their school bus. He died from gunshot wounds to his neck and upper back.
Kennedy had told gardaí that he "panicked" at the scene of the murder and decided to destroy the SIM card by snapping it in two at disposing of it at the car park of the pub after being "pressured" for the phone by a detective.
In interviews, Kennedy denied luring Butterly to the scene and said that Butterly was his friend.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt said that there was "no doubt" that Kennedy was not panicked and that he behaved in a "calculated" way in attempting to minimise his involvement at the scene.
Mr Justice Hunt said that Butterly had been murdered in an "execution type" killing.
Four men - Kevin Braney (44), of Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght, Dublin 24; Edward McGrath (37), of Land Dale Lawns, Springfield, Tallaght; Sharif Kelly (49), of Pinewood Green Road, Balbriggan and Dean Evans (27), of Grange Park Rise, Raheny, Dublin - have all already received life sentences at the Special Criminal Court following convictions for Mr Butterly's murder.
Two other men, Michael McDermott (60), of Riverdale House, Garrymore, Ballinagh, Co Cavan and Frank Murphy (59), of McDonagh Caravan Park, Triton Road, Bettystown, Co Meath, who played roles in the murder of Mr Butterly have also been jailed.