herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Downfall of garage tycoon who shot lover and hid body in boot

A MECHANIC who shot dead his girlfriend and hid her body in a car boot for seven weeks was once a highly respected businessman known throughout Ireland for his expertise.

Sources say that the 53-year-old "blew everything" and spiralled out of control.

Bernard Curran was jailed for seven years after he admitted the manslaughter of mum-of-one Helen Donegan (30).

Sources say Curran was a "wealthy and prosperous" businessman who ran a hugely successful Saab servicing business in Newcastle, Co Dublin, for years.

"This man had a reputation of knowing more about Saab cars than any other mechanic in the country -- people travelled from all over to avail of his expertise. He also sold cars.

"The Celtic tiger was particularly good to him and as his business expanded -- he would have made a lot of money. But Curran's life went into a downward spiral in the years before he killed Ms Donegan. What is not in doubt is that people who would have known him just a couple of years earlier could not have imagined the state that he had got himself in by the summer of 2009.

"He had turned from a man who had a settled family and two children into a reckless individual responsible for killing a vulnerable woman."

Curran shot Helen Donegan through the heart, hid the body and reported her missing, it emerged in court. He then moved in with Helen's brother, took her son away on day trips and pretended to search for her.

Curran, of The Weir, Lucan, Dublin, admitted killing Ms Donegan, telling gardai the gun went off when she tried to stop him shooting himself.

He also admitted hiding her body in the boot of a car in his once prosperous business at Newcastle, south Co Dublin, for seven weeks, during which time he "helped" her family search for her. The father of two had originally been charged with murdering the Ballyfermot native in 2010.

But the prosecution accepted his plea of not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter and he was sentenced at the Central Criminal Court yesterday.

Mr Justice Paul Carney noted the only information in relation to the crime came from the accused and also that Curran had previously threatened suicide. He said: "On his account, he took his lawfully possessed shotgun from his car with the intention of killing himself and loaded it.

"His partner saw what he'd done and tried to take it off him and it went off, killing her."

The judge referred to the victim impact statement of Ms Donegan's brother Martin and members of their family sobbed in court as the judge read out Mr Donegan's words.

Mr Donegan, recalling the seven weeks that his sister was missing, wrote: "He can use all the excuses he wants but there's no excuse for the pain he put us through. Phoning her in front of me, knowing she was in his car. His conning us is 10 times worse than killing her," he said.

Ms Donegan was last seen on May 4, 2010, but was not reported missing until 13 days later. A search was carried out, but Curran had moved her body.

A second unannounced search was carried out 13 days later and Ms Donegan's badly decomposed body was found wrapped in plastic. She was naked from the waist down.

kfoy@herald.ie

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