herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Gangster's girl became trial's shock key witness

APRIL Collins was the surprise witness at the retrial of Barry Doyle, who was jailed for life for the 2008 murder of Shane Geoghegan.

The mother of three -- who is pregnant with her fourth child -- did not give evidence at last year's trial which resulted in a hung jury.

However, in the interim period, the 24-year-old came forward with information to gardai.

She is the former partner of Ger Dundon, and is now in a relationship with convicted rapist Thomas O'Neill.

She became a key witness in the trial of Barry Doyle, providing the Central Criminal Court with the background to the mistaken shooting of the Garryowen rugby player.

Armed gardai in Limerick are now keeping a discreet watch on the young mother who has given evidence about her former boyfriend, his brother and their associates.



shooting

April grew up in the Ballinacurra-Weston neighbourhood on the southside of Limerick.

The neighbourhood is the stronghold of the McCarthy-Dundon criminal gang and at a young age, April came to know all five of the Dundon brothers through her relationship with the youngest brother, Ger.

April moved in with Ger when she was 15 or 16. The couple have three sons together aged six, three, and 13 months.

April told the court she met Barry Doyle while she lived in Malaga, Spain in 2008.

Doyle was an associate of the Dundons at this stage and after they returned to Limerick, she told the jury at Doyle's trial of a conversation she heard the night before innocent Shane Geoghegan was shot dead.

Evidence was heard that she was in the company of Ger's brother, John, Barry Doyle and Nathan Killeen at a house on Hyde Road.

April told the court John Dundon said he had everything sussed out about John McNamara and it was time to make a move.

He said he had the gun and a car ready to go and described what John McNamara looked like, April told the court.

"The gun is there. You kill him," he told Barry Doyle, April later said.

Following the murder, April said she and Ger Dundon went to the car park at Finnegan's restaurant where they met John Dundon and Barry Doyle. John Dundon said John McNamara is dead and made a call.

There was talk between John Dundon and Barry Doyle before Dundon got another call. Barry Doyle said, 'it is him. I know it's him'.

Last year, Ger Dundon was jailed for five years by the non-jury Special Criminal Court for violent disorder in Limerick on February 17, 2010. The crime was committed following attempts by other members of the McCarthy-Dundon criminal gang to collect €20,000 they believed they were owed by Mark Heffernan.

Also sentenced to seven and a half years imprisonment as part of the same investigation was April's brother, Gareth (28) and their father Jimmy (48).

April herself narrowly avoided a jail sentence last year for intimidating a potential witness in the case.

She has now finished her relationship with Ger Dundon and is in a new relationship with Thomas O'Neill -- with whom she is now expecting a child and plans to marry.

O'Neill (23) was one of five Limerick men who took part in the gang rape of a woman in Cratloe Woods, Co Clare, in January 2004.

The jury presiding over the Barry Doyle retrial heard that the Dundon brothers were not happy about her new relationship and April was ordered to move out of her home.

During her evidence at the trial, April Collins agreed that the Dundon brothers were upset about her new relationship.

She denied that she was getting messages almost daily from Ger's sister Annabell saying that Ger wanted to see his children.

But she agreed that Annabell had offered to bring them up to the jail and she did not want them to go. She agreed that the situation "got ugly" because of this.

hnews@herald.ie

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