Kinahan’HURTS ME SO MUCH’
Ex partner of Kinahan cartel victim Michael Barr says couple’s daughter still asks for dad as UK gangster caged for life
- 3 Nov 2020, 7:30
- Updated: 3 Nov 2020, 8:07
THE former partner of Kinahan cartel victim Michael Barr has told how the couple’s daughter still asks for her dad.
Heartbroken Jade O’Shea’s trauma was outlined to the Special Criminal Court yesterday as UK gangster David Hunter, 42, received a life sentence for the Co Tyrone man’s murder in the middle of the Kinahan and Hutch feud.
Along with Eamonn Cumberton, Hunter was one of the two hitmen who blasted Barr, 35, seven times at the Sunset House pub in Dublin on April 25, 2016.
He was hit five times in the head, once in the leg and once in the shoulder.
Barr was shot by the two-man hit team — clad in boiler suits and each wearing masks — after the Kinahans wrongly identified him as one of the gunmen in the Regency Hotel shooting on February 5, 2016.
Although Barr was involved with the Real IRA and is suspected of being a Hutch associate, he was not regarded as a suspect in the murder of cartel foot soldier David Byrne.
In her victim impact statement, Ms O’Shea described the killing as “brutal”.
‘HURTS ME SO MUCH’
She said: “My daughter constantly asks me about her daddy and it hurts me so much to tell her what happened to him.
“I know she needs to know the truth that we will now spend the rest of our lives without him.
“We will never get him back. Michael was also like a father to my two other children and they, too, will see a future without him.”
A victim impact statement was also read to the court on behalf of the murder victim’s sister Noeleen.
She said: “On April 25, 2016, Michael’s life and future was brutally taken.
“That night, not only was his life taken but the lives of his five children, grandmother, mother, father, sisters and only brother’s lives changed forever.
“To tell my grandmother that her grandson was murdered will haunt me for the rest of my life. Michael was like a son to her and she adored him.
“She is distraught even to this day and is unable to attend court. It was a living nightmare.
‘HAUNT ME FOREVER’
“To see the raw pain etched on my parents’ faces will haunt me forever. To hear Michael’s little boy asking if his daddy will ever wake up will haunt me forever.”
She added: “For his five children it is hard for them to understand why their daddy will never be there for the important milestones in their lives.
“They will now have to live with the heart-breaking trauma of knowing how their daddy was gunned down in his place of work on the orders of others who pay fools to murder human beings. How can a life be measured in drugs or money?”
Hunter — one of the ‘unknowns’ recruited by the Kinahan cartel for its war on Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch’s gang — is the sixth cartel foot soldier to be caged for life since 2016.
After the murder, he left Ireland and spent time in Spain and the UK before his arrest.
Although he had 15 previous convictions including assault, making threats to kill and possession of a knife, this is believed to be the first time he pulled the trigger.
He was caught after his DNA was found on a ski-mask and a latex Freddie Kruger mask recovered from his gang’s getaway car.
Their plan to torch the getaway car failed when Det Garda Michael Harkin discovered the Audi A6 and put out the blaze.
The masks, clothing, a Makarov handgun and a bullet were all recovered. A burner phone with a number of missed calls was also found nearby.
Once Hunter was identified, gardai launched a search to find the suspect but received a boost when they were notified he was serving a sentence in the UK for robbery.
As part of the huge investigation, we can also reveal gardai followed over 600 separate lines of inquiry, took 560 statements and examined thousands of hours of CCTV footage.
Detectives also recovered two Makarov handguns, two Glocks and were involved in 15 searches during the probe.
A lock-up used by the gang to prepare for the murder was also searched by officers.
We can also reveal investigators were asked by the Director of Public Prosecutions to see if Hunter would cooperate with their probe.
When asked to reveal his paymasters, he chose to stay silent.
Once the offer was rejected, an extradition warrant was issued for his arrest.
The cartel foot soldier was lifted over the murder on March 29, 2019, before being extradited to Ireland.
On his return to Ireland, officers kept a cup of water he had used on the plane to obtain his DNA.
Although Hunter is now serving life, the hunt to find the gang’s getaway driver is ongoing.
The hood — who has close links to slain crime boss Marlo Hyland — has been on the run since 2016.
He flew to Thailand with Cumberton in the days after the hit before the pair both returned to Ireland.
But once Cumberton was arrested by gardai after his DNA was recovered from a mask found inside the car, the suspect later fled Ireland.
During his trial, the killer admitted the ski-mask was his — but claimed he had dropped it in a car driven by another man when he visited Ireland two months before the murder on a car-stealing exercise.
Hunter said he had used the mask on ski trips with his children.
Judge Alexander Owens ruled the circumstantial evidence “pointed inextricably” to Hunter’s guilt and said the story of how the killer came to lose his ski-mask “did not have a ring of truth about it”.
At the time of Barr’s murder, the investigation was run by Det Insp John Bates from the Bridewell Garda Station under the command of Supt Dan Flavin, former Det Supt Eunan Dolan and ex-Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy.
The current investigation is being run by detectives at the Bridewell station under the command of Det Insp Mark Jordan and Det Supt Colm Murphy.
Speaking after yesterday’s sentence, Det Supt Murphy said: “I welcome the sentencing at the Special Criminal Court on the conviction of David Hunter for the murder of Michael Barr.
“We think of Mr Barr’s family, partner and children who have been left devastated by his murder.
“This is the third conviction relating to this murder and the investigation remains open.
“I’d like to thank the investigation team at the Bridewell, Forensic Science Ireland, the Garda Analysis Service and our colleagues in the UK police.”
Acting Supt for the Mountjoy Garda station, Anthony Gallagher, also welcomed the sentence, adding: “The intense work that was put into this investigation has brought about three convictions.”
And former Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy praised his former colleagues, adding: “The sentence is merely an acknowledgment of the total professionalism of all those involved.”