herald

Monday 23 October 2017

One last act of defiance by a ruthless mobster as innocent Shane's family keep a dignified silence

THE beating sound of rap music leaking from a pair of cheap headphones was all that could be heard in the hushed courtroom.

John Dundon was the only person who wasn't listening intently as the verdict was finally delivered: Guilty.

The CD Walkman was the mobster's final act of defiance before he was carted off to prison for murdering innocent Shane Geoghegan.

After a near month-long trial, Dundon seemed to know that his fate was sealed. He had no interest in hearing why the three-judge Special Criminal Court had reached its conclusions.

In stark contrast, the Geoghegan family maintained a dignified silence as their eyes fixed on Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns.

Dundon (31), of Hyde Road, Limerick, had denied murder but the evidence that piled up against him in the course of the near month-long trial had been damning.

Mr Geoghegan (28) had been walking home from watching a rubgy international match on TV at a friend's house at Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, Limerick, on the night of November 9, 2008, when he was shot dead.

The gunman, Barry Doyle, killed him in a case of mistaken identity following what was described as a "careless" description given by Dundon.

The intended target had been another man who lived in the area, John "Pitchfork" McNamara.

He was supposed to get the five bullets that were blasted into Shane Geoghegan, including one in the back of the head.

Shortly before being gunned down Shane had texted his girlfriend Jenna Barry to say he was on his way home.

Jenna heard the fatal shots, looked outside and saw a man jump into the getaway car. She didn't realise that Shane's lifeless body was lying in a passageway at a neighbour's house until gardai arrived at the scene.

He was later pronounced dead and the getaway car, a Renault Espace, was found burnt out in a nearby field.

As the prosecution case unfolded it was alleged that Dundon ordered the hit but gave a "careless" description of him.

April Collins – the then-partner of the accused's brother Ger Dundon – was present the next morning when Dundon discovered the wrong man had been killed.

"John started panicking, giving out to Barry that it was the wrong man, not Johnny Mac," she had said in evidence. "He was saying, 'You hit the wrong man'. Barry was saying: 'It is him. The way you described him, that's the man I killed'." Lisa Collins (29) and Christopher McCarthy admitted stealing the Espace used in the getaway, under threat from John Dundon, but said they did not know why he wanted it.

Lisa said she heard of the shooting of Mr Geoghegan, later saw an image of the car on "crime call" on TV and "at that moment she felt sick" because she realised it was the car that was stolen.

Reading out the judgment, Mr Justice Kearns said the case had been "all about credibility".

Dundon's defence counsel, Brendan Nix SC, made that point during the case. He pointed to the fact that Lisa Collins and Christopher McCarthy had been granted immunity from prosecution.

However, Mr Justice Kearns said that while the court was treating the three main prosecution witnesses as accomplices, he accepted their evidence as truthful. He described April Collins' testimony as "graphic" and "compelling".

"That testimony places the accused John Dundon in a central role in the planning, direction and arrangements for the crime in question," he said.

Mr Justice Kearns said the three could not have "concocted" a story to "do down" the accused, as contended by the prosecution.

The court concluded that the prosecution's case pointed "overwhelmingly" to Dundon's guilt. He sentenced Dundon to life in jail, where he will join Barry Doyle, who has already been convicted of the murder.

 

Headphones

Dundon, wearing a black tracksuit, had refused to stand to acknowledge the judges when the hearing began and clutched the headphones more tightly to his ears as the judgment was delivered, occasionally nodding along in time to the music.

He removed them only to hear Mr Nix read out a brief statement on his behalf.

In it, he said he "deeply regrets that Mr Geoghegan lost his life in this way", denied any hand, act or part in it and "hoped one day the full truth would come out".

He then put the headphones back on before being led from the court.

Members of the Geoghegan family, including Shane's mother Mary, his brother Anthony, girlfriend Jenna Barry and aunt Margaret Walsh sat quietly at the back of the courtroom throughout. They declined to offer any witness impact statement, which was their right, or to comment for reporters afterwards.

Outside court, Dundon's solicitor John Devane confirmed he is to appeal the conviction and sentence.

PJ BROWNE: SEE PAGE 16

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