herald

Saturday 19 August 2017

Our murdered son's last words – 'Ma, don't worry, I'll be home soon'

Larry and Elizabeth Johnson. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Larry and Elizabeth Johnson. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

"MA, don't worry. I'll be home soon" – these were the last words of gun victim Dean Johnson. Just minutes later, the 21-year-old was shot a number of times in the head.

The killer then coldly stood over his victim and fired at point-blank range as Dean lay near his home in Clondalkin, south Dublin. More than 10 shots were fired and Johnson was hit at least six times.

His distraught mother Elizabeth (58) told the Herald she telephoned her son around midnight on Friday night to make sure he was all right. "When I rang him, he just said: 'Ma, don't worry. I'll be home soon'."

It has also emerged that Dean's older brother Mark heard the fatal gunshots from his bedroom at home at 12.20am on Saturday.

Gardai believe the incident may be linked to an incident on Friday after rival gangs, armed with baseball bats, fought at The Square in Tallaght.

However, the victim's family are convinced Dean was killed in a case of mistaken identity as the intended target phoned them to inform them of the shooting.

The victim was shot near Finches Pub in Neilstown – not far from his home at Greenfort Lawns. His family said Dean was speaking to some men after leaving the pub. When a car pulled up and a gunman emerged, they said the men in Dean's company immediately ran away.

 

Worry

The family claimed one of the men who ran away telephoned Dean's brother, Andrew, and said: "So sorry what happened your brother. That was meant for me."

Mother-of-five Elizabeth Johnson said she would regularly call Dean when he was out at night. "Dean worried a lot about me when I had cancer. He was very close to me. I worried about him and I'd ring him every day."

She and her husband Larry were asleep when their son, Mark, came into their room to tell them Dean had been shot in the chest. Mark said he was in his bedroom with the window open when he heard the shots.

"It sounded like bang-bang, bang-bang, bang-bang, bang-bang. At first I thought it might be fireworks. My brother Andrew later rang me and told me Dean was after being shot. I started roaring crying," he said.

Another brother, Stephen, brought Dean's father to Tallaght hospital. Larry said: "My son Andrew was in the waiting room in the hospital and I asked him, 'Is it bad?' Stephen told me, 'He's gone'." The victim's family wanted to publicly refute published claims that Dean was once involved in attacks on tourists in central Dublin.

His sister Audrey (37) said: "Dean was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

No arrests have been made and garda investigations are continuing.

Elizabeth Johnson said: "I just want justice for my son."

Larry fought back tears when he recalled memories of his sports-mad son: "When he was eight or nine, he broke his leg playing football in school. When he came home with his leg in a cast that same day, he wanted to go straight back to school.

"He cried so much I took him back to school the very same day. Most kids would cry to get off school but Dean cried to be allowed go to school," he said.

Gardai have appealed for information from anyone in the vicinity of Finches pub. A black Vectra car used by the gunman was later found burning at nearby Collinstown Crescent.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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