Courtroom silenced by dad's words of grief and anger
THE courtroom descended into silence as the father of murder victim Roy Collins tried to keep his composure.
Steve Collins sat hunched in the witness box only a few metres from the two cold-blooded killers who had just been convicted of his son's murder.
The people in the crowded Special Criminal Court seemed to collectively hold their breath as the anguished father paused to stifle a dry sob.
He spoke of arriving at the scene of his son's shooting after the killers had fled. He had held his dying son in his arms as the young man told his dad he loved him. He described his son as "my beautiful boy".
"The day they murdered my son, they wounded me, and I am slowly bleeding to death," said the devastated father.
Father and son and their brave family had stood up against the gangs that intimidated the people of Limerick for years.
Grief throbbed in his throat as Steve spoke of his son's death.
"Sometimes I think his loss will kill me.
"I also have to live with the reality that it was me these criminals came for that morning," he said.
Wayne Dundon, the bullying crime boss who had ordered the murder while in his prison cell, sat in the dock beside Nathan Killeen, who had acted as getaway driver.
Both men sat impassively, waiting for life sentences to be pronounced.
Dundon kept his head up to look straight at his victim's father. He did not flinch as Stephen Collins spoke of the "cowardly evil men" responsible for killing Roy.
Dundon wore a blue Le Cop Sportif T-shirt and grey tracksuit bottoms. Killeen sat beside him wearing a blue, red and black tracksuit.
The victims' family sat in a row in the full-to-capacity courtroom. Roy's mother Carmel sat with her daughter and remaining sons as her husband spoke. The family had been forced into exile as a result of the Dundon's activities.
Anger steeled Mr Collins as he spoke of how Dundon and his henchmen "infected our lives with their hateful poison and destroyed everything that we held dear in life".
"When these people killed our son, our hopes and aspirations died with him. We too have been handed a life sentence," he said
He spoke of Roy's little daughters, Shannon and Charlie, "whose little hearts broke beyond repair" when their daddy was taken from them.
A court official brought Mr Collins a glass of water during one of the many silent moments of his heartfelt testimony.
Mr Collins spoke of how his wife lived in constant fear.
He declared: "Roy's killers took her heart and cast her into a heartbroken, fearful world."
Uniformed and plain-clothed gardai, active and retired who have brought the downfall to Limerick's gangs, stood and sat along the back walls. They listened as Mr Collins thanked them all "from the bottom of our hearts" for breaking up the McCarthy-Dundon gang.
The three female judges imposed life sentences on both defendants.
Later, Mr Collins seemed transformed as he stood with his family on the courthouse steps in a warm July breeze.
He even hinted he and his family might now return to Ireland.
"Justice has been served today and maybe now my family can get on with their lives," he said. "Our ten-year nightmare is over."
Dundon linked to Baiba's killing: See page 14