Ten years on: rugby player mur­der a tip­ping point for Lim­er­ick gangs

How killing of two in­no­cents put an end to thugs’ stran­gle­hold on the city

Irish Independent - - News - David Raleigh

THE shoot­ing of in­no­cent rugby player Shane Geoghe­gan, 10 years ago yes­ter­day, proved to be the tip­ping point in Lim­er­ick’s vi­cious gang­land his­tory which had threat­ened all-out an­ar­chy be­tween the late 1990s and late 2000s.

Ac­cord­ing to some, it was skilled po­lice work, and not tougher anti-gang­land leg­is­la­tion, that put Mr Geoghe­gan’s killers be­hind bars and re­stored peace to the city.

Mr Geoghe­gan, a charis­matic leader and rugby player with Gar­ry­owen RFC, was walk­ing home from his girl­friend’s house when he was chased and shot dead by hired hit­man Barry Doyle, on Novem­ber 9, 2008.

Re­cruited by the no­to­ri­ous Dun­don gang to shoot an as­so­ciate of ri­val Philip Col­lopy, Doyle mis­took Mr Geoghe­gan for his in­tended tar­get. It soon emerged that John Dun­don, one head of the Dun­don crime gang, had or­dered the hit.

Ex­actly five months later, on April 9, 2009, an­other in­no­cent man, Roy Collins, was shot dead by Dun­don trig­ger­man Nathan Killeen un­der or­ders from gang leader Wayne Dun­don.

The mur­ders of the two in­no­cent men were a cat­a­lyst for in­tro­duc­ing im­por­tant amend­ments to the Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Bill, in­tro­duced in 2006 to tackle gang­land crime.

Th­ese leg­isla­tive up­dates beefed up the Bill, and pro­vided for the use in crim­i­nal tri­als of ma­te­rial ob­tained dur­ing covert Garda sur­veil­lance op­er­a­tions; fur­ther def­i­ni­tions of mem­ber­ship of a crim­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tion; mak­ing it an of­fence to di­rect gang ac­tiv­i­ties; and cre­at­ing a raft of new “sched­uled of­fences” which brought gang­land tri­als into the non-jury Spe­cial Crim­i­nal Court on a dec­la­ra­tion that the or­di­nary courts were in­ad­e­quate for the pur­pose of the ef­fec­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice.

Gar­daí worked tire­lessly with vi­tal sources from in­side the Dun­don gang. They also worked with ri­vals of the gang, and the wider com­mu­nity, to get vi­tal ev­i­dence which re­sulted in mur­der con­vic­tions and life sen­tences for Barry Doyle and John Dun­don for the mur­der of Shane Geoghe­gan; and for Wayne Dun­don and Nathan Killeen for Roy Collins’s mur­der.

Ten years on, the city is rid­ing the crest of a wave of high em­ploy­ment and in­vest­ment.

Lim­er­ick Fianna Fáil TD Wil­lie O’Dea said the gar­daí that smashed the Dun­don gang were be­hind Lim­er­ick’s dra­matic im­age trans­for­ma­tion.

“The gar­daí are the un­sung he­roes of the whole saga of Lim­er­ick’s gang­land past. The de­tec­tive branch who led the in­ves­ti­ga­tions have prob­a­bly the best de­tec­tion record of any po­lice force in the world,” said Mr O’Dea. “They are ab­so­lutely price­less.”

Re­tired De­tec­tive Garda Sean Lynch, who worked on the Geoghe­gan and Collins mur­ders, praised the then jus­tice min­is­ter Der­mot Ah­ern for pro­vid­ing ex­tra re­sources and an over­time bud­get for gar­daí to con­cen­trate their ef­forts on bring­ing the Dun­don gang to jus­tice.

Mr Lynch, now a Fianna Fáil coun­cil­lor, also praised his Garda col­leagues, say­ing: “They never took the foot off the pedal.”

Shane Geoghe­gan’s fam­ily at­tended a spe­cial match at Gar­ry­owen RFC last night, held in mem­ory of the player.

“No one has worn Shane’s num­ber three jersey since his death. It’s been per­ma­nently re­tired,” said club vice-chair­per­son Eoin Pren­der­gast.

Shane’s brother An­thony pre­sented a por­trait he painted of his slain si­b­ling, which will be dis­played in the club­house along­side an All-Blacks jersey signed by Kiwi play­ers which was pre­sented to the club in mem­ory of the Gar­ry­owen war­rior.

No one has worn Shane’s num­ber three jersey since his death

Shot: Shane Geoghe­gan was a charis­matic leader who played for Gar­ry­owen RFC

Locked up: Gang thug John Dun­don is serv­ing life in prison

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.