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28 Jun 2022

'His face went grey' - Woman describes seeing her partner die after shooting

'His face went grey' - Woman describes seeing her partner die after shooting

'His face went grey' - Woman describes seeing her partner die after shooting

Three gentle taps of the letterbox drew Thomas Farnan to his front door but he hadn't even opened it when a gunman fired the shots that killed him, the deceased's partner has told the Central Criminal Court.

Elaine Heffernan told Lorcan Merriman's murder trial that she thought the late-night knock was that of a neighbour who would often call around looking for a cigarette. She heard her partner Thomas Farnan, who was on the phone to his mother, turn the lock in the door. There was an immediate "big bang", she said, followed by the sound of glass shattering. She said: "I just kept screaming at Tom, 'what is it, what is it' but he wasn't answering me."

She remembered her partner still had his hand on the door but began slowly sliding to the floor, so she put her hands under his arms to stop him falling. She said: "I was just panicking because I could see the blood but I couldn't see where it was coming from." His face turned grey, she said, and he still didn't make a sound. 

Neighbours began to arrive and one of them checked Mr Farnan's pulse. She told Ms Heffernan: "He's gone." Ms Heffernan said: "I just started screaming."

Lorcan Merriman (25) of Lealand Close in Clondalkin has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Farnan at Kilcronan Close, Clondalkin on April 25 or 26, 2016. 

Ms Heffernan told Roisin Lacey SC for the prosecution that she and the deceased first met when she was ten and he was seven. They were childhood friends and as adults, when she was 23, their relationship became romantic. She described Mr Farnan as "happy go lucky", someone who would "give you the shirt off his back". His neighbours called him, 'neighbourhood watch', she said, "because he looked after everybody on the road."

She agreed with Ms Lacey that he had issues with alcohol and drugs and in 2016 was attending a methadone clinic daily.

On the day of her partner's death, Ms Heffernan had been to the dentist. Her tooth began to hurt so she went to bed early without eating until, at about 23:20, Mr Farnan checked in on her and asked if she wanted something to eat. She decided to get up and was putting on her boots when she heard three light taps of the letter box.

She said: "I thought it was my neighbour because he knocks really light like that. He calls over sometimes looking for a cigarette."

Mr Farnan got to the front door just as Ms Heffernan was leaving the bedroom. She heard the lock click and then a "big bang". "It happened in a split second," she said, and Mr Farnan didn't get a chance to open the door. After the bang and the shattering of glass, she said: "Thomas was still standing with his hand on the handle of the door but he wasn't answering me and then he started slowly sliding down and I put my hands under his arms to stop him falling and I was still talking to him but he wasn't answering me."

Neighbours arrived and tried to help and an ambulance was on the scene quickly. A paramedic took Ms Heffernan aside and also told her that Mr Farnan was "gone". 

Louise Irish told Ms Lacey that she was a neighbour of Mr Farnan and Ms Heffernan. She remembered that earlier on the day of the shooting, Mr Farnan was out mowing the grass verges to tidy up the estate for a Communion and Confirmation that were happening that day. That night Ms Irish was at home in her kitchen when she heard a loud bang outside followed by more bangs. She went outside and "saw a fella walking out the drive of Elaine and Thomas's house." He left at a "trot" but wasn't running, she said. He was tall and wore dark clothing including a hoodie with the hood up and a pair of tracksuit bottoms. 

Ms Irish's partner Robert Weldon told Ms Lacey he also heard the bangs and followed Ms Irish out the front door.  He saw a "dark figure" about 100 metres up the road. He went to Mr Farnan's house and helped to get Elaine out of the hallway so others could get access to Mr Farnan. Mr Weldon stood back as someone else carried out CPR. He said: "Tom was white in the face and his eyes were fixed, they weren't moving at all. I thought he was dead." 

Mr Weldon said Mr Farnan was a "very nice neighbour". 

Another neighbour, Cian Shorten, told Ms Lacey he heard the bangs and saw a person running away from the area with his hood up, wearing dark clothes and possibly a ski mask or balaclava over his face.

The trial continues in front of Mr Justice David Keane and a jury of nine men and three women.

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