The VW Golf car on fire at Red Lane, Naas in February, 2016
Two men will be sentenced on Wednesday for their role in helping a criminal gang to murder Vinnie Ryan, a brother of slain Real IRA leader Alan Ryan in 2016.
Paul O'Beirne (36) and Jeffrey Morrow (37) pleaded guilty to helping the criminal gang by providing and destroying a stolen Volkswagen Golf that gardaí say was used in the "drive-by" shooting in which Ryan (25) suffered multiple gunshot wounds including one to the head.
O'Beirne (36) of Colepark Drive, Ballyfermot and Morrow (37) of Burnell Court, Coolock went on trial last month when they pleaded not guilty to Mr Ryan's murder.
Following almost two weeks of legal argument both men pleaded guilty to facilitating a serious offence contrary to Section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006.
Morrow has 120 previous convictions which include threatening to ram a garda with his car, conspiracy to rob a cash-in-transit van carrying €1m, using stolen bank drafts to pay for stolen vehicles, possession of a shotgun, cartridges and a garda baton, and possession of €3,000 worth of cocaine.
O'Beirne's 25 previous convictions were all for road traffic offences except one Section 4 assault conviction.
Car set on fire outside Naas
The court was told that gardaí compiled vast amounts of CCTV footage and mobile phone evidence linking the two accused to a silver Volkswagen Golf that gardaí believe was used by the gunman who shot Vinnie Ryan.
A witness said he was driving along Red Lane near Toughers filling station some time after 4.20pm on February 29th, 2016 when he saw a car on fire ahead of him.
It was a four-door hatchback and he said it looked like it had just gone on fire.
In front of the burning car was another car of similar size and, he said, it looked like there were two people inside.
One of them was looking back at the burning car and when the flames got bigger, the car went off in the direction it was facing.
The witness said another car pulled up behind him and the driver called emergency services.
A fire officer with Naas Fire Station said he received a call to a burnt out car at Red Lane at 4.43pm that day.
With the help of another fire officer he put out the fire and was able to reveal the chassis number of the car.
A Garda took photos of the car and of a registration plate that was on the ground on the opposite side of the road.
Gardaí used the chassis number to identify it and found that it had been stolen from the home of Joseph Cogan in October 2015.
Gardaí found a sheet of tarpaulin in a bin in O'Beirne's home following the murder of Vincent Ryan.
Forensic DNA analysts examined the sheet and found dog hairs on it, which they matched to one of Mr Cogan's dogs.
Using CCTV footage gardaí traced the movements of the Volkswagen and found that after the shooting it had driven in convoy with a Kia Sorrento owned by an associate of O'Beirne towards where it was burnt out.
Later that afternoon a Kia Sorrento arrived at O'Beirne's home and both O'Beirne and Morrow got out.
The provision and destruction of the car was "vital" to the criminal gang's plan to murder Vincent Ryan, the trial was told.
Gardaí said the two men knew of the existence of the criminal gang and provided and destroyed the car knowing it was used to carry out the murder.
Murder victim Ryan dropped off his partner Kelly Smyth and their five-week-old daughter at Ms Smyth's home on February 19, 2016.
Another car then pulled up and fired at least 13 shots towards Mr Ryan's car.
Three of the bullets struck him and one struck him in the head causing his death.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.