Judge praises witnesses in trial of a gunman who went to kill for €200 debt
A DUBLIN man whose trial was conducted in an "atmosphere of intimidation" has been jailed for 10 years, for attempting to murder another man over a €200 drug debt.
At the Central Criminal Court yesterday, Justice Paul Carney praised the bravery of jury members and witnesses in the trial of Michael Brennan of Cromcastle Drive, Kilmore, in Coolock. He said their "combined courage" had "overcome the accused's express view that he was untouchable".
Justice Carney said that the accused had "disentitled" himself from any mitigating circumstances, such as his previous good character, or the fact that he had shown remorse.
Brennan was convicted by a jury last December of the attempted murder of James Egan, and of possession of a sawn-off shotgun with intent to endanger life. He was sentenced to eight years for the firearms offence, to run concurrent with his ten-year sentence.
The jury had heard that he was a teenager when he went with his now deceased co-accused, Wesley Byrne, to Mr Egan's home at Cromcastle Court and carried out the organised shooting on April 29, 2006.
Mr Egan had been expecting them over to cut up drugs. He answered the door when he heard Byrne's voice and was shot twice, in the stomach and thigh, but he told the trial that he did not see who was at the door. He only saw a flash.
The teenagers fled the scene on their bicycles and returned to Byrne's house. The gun was never recovered. There was no forensic evidence in the trial and the accused was convicted on the evidence of people who were in Byrne's home that night, and saw them with the gun.
The court heard that during his interviews with gardai, the accused said: "I'm not telling the truth. I won't give you the satisfaction." When reminded there were witnesses, he said: "I don't think the people will step up ... they won't go to court."
Gardai had also told the court that "from the initiation of the investigation there a constant threat of intimidation".
The witnesses, however, eventually came to court and testified against the accused.
Brennan had 62 previous convictions, mainly for road traffic and public order offences.
He had been living at home and was involved in petty car theft and anti-social behaviour at the time he shot Mr Egan.
His defending lawyer, Paul McDermott, submitted a psychological assessment on his client, which said his extremely low ability meant he would have difficulty thinking through the consequences of his actions.
Justice Carney had also been asked to take into account the accused's youth and his chaotic and dysfunctional background. Justice Carney refused leave to appeal.