A BALLISTICS expert told Albufeira Court last Friday, March 30, that he could not conclusively determine whether the firearms, which had been retrieved from murdered Irishman Michael Ahern’s car and the apartment where his body was found, had been fired recently.
Testimony from defence witnesses began to crumble the supposedly airtight case for the prosecution, who are attempting to prove that Englishman David Figueira and Irish nationals Brad Curtis, Kevin McMullen, Brian Murphy and Alan O’Sullivan, murdered Ahern in September 2005.
Figueira has admitted to shooting Ahern in self defence after the latter allegedly pointed a gun at him and threatened to kill him. According to Figueira, it was when the gun slipped from Ahern’s hands that he picked it up and fired at the Irishman.
António Ferreira, a doctor of legal medicine, said that there were many flaws in the autopsy report. Multiple cranial fractures was said to be the cause of death but he believed one gunshot in Ahern’s head was the cause. Although four bullet wounds were found in Ahern’s head, three were not deep and were possibly ricochets, given that they were supposed to have been fired at close range. The underlying suggestion was that a struggle had taken place and Figueira was not in control of the situation. Ferreira also disputed the autopsy report’s reference to a mark around Ahern’s throat, caused by a piece of rope. He said the same mark could have been caused by pulling his shirt collar from behind. The possibility that rope was used was a strong indication of premeditation and, therefore, important for the prosecution’s case.
The doctor said that it was unacceptable that toxicology tests, which are mandatory in cases like this, were not conducted on the victim. He implied that the evidence gathering process and testing was flawed.
Ferreira also believed the head fractures were not caused by repeated kicks, as the prosecution maintains, but the injuries were consistent with a bad fall.
The owner of Lounge Bar in Lagos took the stand and said that, on the night of Ahern’s death, they were all having a good time at the bar and there was no ill feeling between them. However, he described Ahern as an aggressive character, who had once threatened him and, when under the influence of alcohol, would often start arguments.
Other character witnesses took the stand and described the accused as being kind-hearted and docile. Kevin McMullen’s sister described him as generous, with a bright future. Figueira’s former flatmate said that he would trust him with the care of his child and that he was never aggressive. O’Sullivan, who is allegedly the nephew of North Cork Central TD, Noel O’Flynn, had a number of character witnesses describe him as an honest family man. Curtis was the only defendant without a character witness.
The next court date has been set for April 10, where closing statements will be heard.
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