A dad-of-two was shot dead minutes after carrying his daughter’s school bag and walking her to her classroom, an inquest has heard.
Benny Whitehouse (35), was in a good mood the morning he was gunned down in Balbriggan, his partner Natasha White told Dublin Coroner’s Court.
Ms White said: “Benny went into class with our daughter. He carried her school bag for her. We didn’t stop and talk to anyone. We were flirting and playing. Benny was in good form.”
The inquest heard that on the morning of September 25, 2014, the couple sat into their car and were putting on their seat belts when a gunman approached and opened fire.
“I heard a loud bang and the driver’s window smashed,” Ms White said. “I saw Benny turn to the window and put his hands up to protect himself. Then I heard three or four loud bangs. I jumped out of the car.”
She said she saw the gunman over the roof of the car and described him as tall with a black hat, “like something a hunter would wear”, adding: “It all happened so fast. I realised there was blood on my boot and blood coming from my leg. I started screaming for help.”
Witness Michael Brophy saw the shooting as he drove down Clonard Street at around 9.20am.
“A post mortem by Dr Michael Curtis determined the cause of Benny Whitehouse’s death as multiple gunshot woulds. A file was sent to the DPP, who directed no prosecution due to lack of evidence”
He said: “I saw a man hunkered down, carrying a hand gun in his right hand. There were two people sitting in a VW Polo car facing Deli Burger, putting their belts on. As he reached the VW the man raised the gun.
“He shot through the window of the car about four or five times. I saw the driver flinch and turn away from the person with the gun.”
Witnesses heard screeching tyres as a Mayo-registered Ford Focus sped off. It was later found burned out. Mr Whitehouse was attended to by emergency services, but was pronounced dead at the scene at 10.41am.
Det Sgt Dave Kemp said the case remains open but gardai “have exhausted all current lines of inquiry”. The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing by person or persons unknown.