Special Criminal Court hears detailed evidence of night Andrew Burns was murdered

The Special Criminal Court has today ruled that statements made by a man admitting his part in the murder of a man in Co Donegal more than three years ago can be admitted in evidence.

36-year-old Martin Kelly from Barracks Street in Strabane had challenged three statements made by him to gardaí in which he admitted driving Mr Andrew Burns also from Strabane, across the border to Donneyloop where he was shot dead.

However, today, the three-judge court ruled that the statements, two made while in garda custody and the third to two senior gardaí in the North, were admissible in evidence.

Kelly is on trial for the murder of Mr Burns whose body was found by a group of teenagers in the car park of a church at Donnyloop in Co Donegal in 2008.

The court  was told that Martin Kelly told officers that a week before the murder he was approached by Mr A who asked him to take Andrew Burns to Donnyloop for “a punishment beating or shooting”. He met Mr A the next day and he told him that Mr B and Mr C would be there for the shooting.

Kelly said he knew it was “an IRA operation” and he said he had done other jobs for the IRA but had never been sworn in himself.

He said that on the day of the murder he picked up Mr Burns at the KFC in Strabane and drove him in his car to Donnyloop car park.

Mr Burns got out of the car and then Mr A walked past him. Then Mr B approached Andrew Burns and went to pull the trigger of his gun but the gun jammed. Mr Burns started to run towards the car park exit, the gunman, Mr B, ran after him and fired a shot which injured him.

Kelly said that Andrew Burns stumbled but kept running towards the church but Mr B chased him and fired a second shot.

He said that Mr A, Mr B and Mr C then got back into the car and Mr C shouted at him to keep calm, drive out of the car park slowly and keep the lights off. He said he could see that Andrew Burns had stumbled and was lying on the road at that stage.

Kelly said he drove to Clady village where Mr B handed him the revolver inside a black plastic bag and told him to dispose of it. He put it in the side of a hedge.

He then drove the three men to the Fir Trees Hotel in Strabane where he left them. He told the gardaí that he had known Mr A “all my life”, Mr B for 15 years and Mr C for 10 years.

Martin Kelly told the court during the “trial within a trial” that after his arrest when he was taken to Letterkenny garda station he was “in fear for his life”.

The trial will resume next week.