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Verdict due in Guerin trial

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — A verdict in the Veronica Guerin murder trail is expected later this week from the three judges in the Special Criminal Court who have heard 31 days of evidence.

Before the court is Paul "Hippo" Ward, 34, of Crumlin, Dublin, who denies murdering the 36-year-old journalist at the Naas Road, Clondalkin, on June 26, 1997.

The trial is the first of a number connected with the murder and follows the most intensive Garda investigation in the history of the State.

Supergrass Charles Bowden, 33, of Navan Road, a self-confessed drug dealer, is the main witness against Ward, who, he claims, disposed of the motorbike and handgun used to killed the former crime reporter.

Bowden was jailed last year for six years after he pleaded guilty to a range of drug and firearms charges.

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A former Irish army corporal, Bowden turned state’s evidence and was given immunity from prosecution.

He claimed he had agreed to cooperate because he felt remorse and revulsion about the killing of Guerin — who was married and had a young son — after he was shown photos of the murdered woman.

Ward and his lawyers have strongly attacked Bowden’s evidence, describing him as a calculating liar who had "poisoned" the Gardai with false statements about Ward

Bowden was the armorer for the drug-dealing gang alleged to be responsible for the murder.

Gardai also claim Ward admitted in statements to them that he disposed of the motorbike and the handgun. He denies this. Notes of the interview have gone missing and the interview was not videotaped.

The trial has been told about huge profits being made by the gang from drug dealing.

Bowden gave evidence of moving around laundry baskets packed with £1,000 batches of notes. He said he was making profits £5,000 and sometimes £7,000 a week.

When he was arrested, he had £85,000 in cash at home and £100,000 in a hold-all bag at a friend’s apartment.

He brought a hairdressing business to launder the money and give him a front that would justify his lifestyle as he had been on £60 a week unemployment benefit.

Bowden claimed the gang leader became upset because he was facing a charge of assaulting Guerin and if found guilty would probably be sent to jail.

If the gang leader, who is being held in another jurisdiction, was sent to prison the whole drugs operation would fall apart, as he was the one who had the contacts to get the cannabis, he said.

Guerin had been killed because she "pissed off" the leader and Bowden told of meetings the gang had to discuss her. He had loaded the .357 Magnum used in the killing with six bullets and left it on a table another six rounds.

Ward, a self-confessed heroin addict and drug dealer, gave evidence of his huge income. He estimated he collected £3 million for the gang leader in the course of a year. Between 1994 and 1996, he had made £300,000 for himself selling cannabis and contraband tobacco and cigarettes.

Evidence was given that cannabis was going through the gang’s lock-up garage at the rate of 350 kg a week when the gang were at their peak. However, he emphatically denies he was given the murder weapon and disposed of it. He spent the day of the Guerin killing with a niece who was also a drug addict.

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