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Gerard Cervi sentenced to life for murder of Messett

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A 36-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of another man at Bray Boxing Club in June 2018.

Gerard Cervi was found guilty of the murder of Bobby Messett by a unanimous verdict a week ago.

He was acquitted of attempting to murder well-known coach Pete Taylor and a third man, Ian Britton, during the attack at an early morning gym class.

The Central Criminal Court heard no definitive motive was ever established for the murder of Mr Messett, a 50-year-old father of three who was described by his daughter as the “innocent victim of a brutal crime”.

The court heard gardaí do not believe Mr Messett was the intended target of the shooting.

Cervi walked into the crowded exercise class at Bray Boxing Club at around 7am on the morning of 5 June 2018 and began shooting. He fired nine shots in all.

His first bullet hit Bobby Messett who was shot in the head and died instantaneously. Two other men were shot but Cervi was found not guilty of the attempted murder of Pete Taylor and Ian Britton.

Gardaí linked Cervi to the murder of Mr Messett through CCTV footage, as well as DNA and fingerprints found in a silver Volkswagen Caddy van.

He was interviewed 15 times but denied being involved in the shooting.

Robert ‘Bobby’ Messett was shot on 5 June 2018

Investigating officer, Detective Superintendent Brian O’Keeffe agreed with prosecuting counsel Paul Murray that there was no evidence that Bobby Messett was the intended target of the shooting in any way shape or form.

Supt O’Keeffe told the court he did not believe Mr Messett was the target.

The court heard Cervi, who is from the East Wall in Dublin, had no previous convictions and had never previously been arrested or charged.

In a victim impact statement, Bobby Messett’s son, Gary said he missed his dad most in the ordinary, everyday things in life. He said his Dad taught him to be determined and always strive to be better especially in sport. He said the last time he had seen his father was also his fondest memory of him.

Gary Messett said he had won the FAI’s Football for All award in 2018 and he could see how proud his Dad was of him. He said he would cherish that moment for the rest of his life.

Gary Messett pictured in 2018

Gary Messett said his dad was an exceptional father and grandfather who was missed everyday. He said he was a fitness fanatic who was in the prime of his life. They had so many questions and “what ifs”, he said.

They asked ‘Why my dad?’, but they would never know and the murder had caused a massive impact on their family.

He dreaded having to tell his own daughters what had happened to their grandad and he was dreading having to tell such innocent minds that such evil exists in the world.

Mr Messett said it infuriated him having to watch the man who took away his dad sit with no remorse throughout the trial with his own dad by his side.

He said there would never be closure for the family but he said he hoped their dad was at rest knowing his family had stayed strong throughout the worst few years of their lives.

Demi Messett said her dad was what she believed a dad should be – fun, energetic, hardworking and supportive. She said he always pushed them to do their best.

He was only 50 years old when he was taken from them so brutally with no chance to say goodbye, she said.

Ms Messett said that as a family they found it hard to accept that their dad was in the wrong place at the wrong time – he should have been safe in a place he enjoyed exercising and keeping fit.

She asked why such an evil act would be carried out in a place where people went to simply keep fit.

Ms Messett told the judge the trial had been extremely tough. They had not recovered from their dad’s death and had to relive the trauma throughout the trial, she said.

She told the court the family were satisfied their dad’s murderer had been found guilty, but she said they had “so many unanswered questions” about why it happened in the first place.

Bobby Messett was “the innocent victim of a brutal crime”, she said. He was a normal working man – a painter and decorator, always busy, with so much life to live.

Ms Justice Karen O’Connor told Mr Messett’s children that their father would be so proud of them and dignity the family had shown throughout the trial process.

She sentenced Cervi to the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.

The judge said the murder happened “in a shockingly short period of time”.

She said the circumstances of Mr Messett’s death had a profound impact on his loved ones and would continue to do so.

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