Saturday 20 December 2014

Witness in Roy Collins murder case 'can't recall' phone conversation, court hears

Published 15/05/2014 | 18:27

The Special Criminal Court has today heard evidence from the cousin of a Limerick man who is on trial charged with the murder of businessman Roy Collins in 2009.

Christopher McCarthy (31) was giving evidence in the non-jury trial of Wayne Dundon (36), of Lenihan Avenue, Prospect and Nathan Killeen (24) of Hyde Road, Prospect, who have pleaded not guilty to the murder of 35-year-old Roy Collins at Coin Castle Amusements, Roxboro Road Shopping Centre on April 9, 2009.

Mr McCarthy is currently serving a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence for demanding money with menaces.

At the outset of the prosecution case, Mr Michael O’Higgins SC said that the “meat of the case” was to be found in the evidence of five witnesses, who were associates of the accused men, including Christopher McCarthy and Anthony McCarthy, who are cousins of the Dundons.

Taking to the stand, Christopher McCarthy told Mr Sean Guerin SC, prosecuting, that in 2009 he was living on Crecora Avenue with his partner Lisa Collins.

He said her brother Gareth Collins Keogh stayed there, as did Johnny Collins and Jimmy Collins.

Mr McCarthy said that on April 9, 2009 he was at home with Lisa and Gareth Collins when Nathan Killeen and James Dillon called to the house in the morning.

He said Nathan Killeen “didn’t look happy”.

The witness said this group of people were in the garden and he talked to James Dillon while Gareth talked to Nathan Killeen.

He said that he did not hear any of the conversation between Nathan Killeen and Gareth Collins but saw Nathan hand Gareth a phone.

Mr McCarthy said that Gareth “didn’t look himself” after the phone call.

In his direct evidence earlier in the week Gareth Collins, also known as Gareth Keogh, told the non-jury court that he was offered €20,000 to take part in the killing of publican Steve Collins, the father of Roy Collins.

He said that Killeen got Wayne Dundon on his mobile phone and Dundon said:"You just drop them up and drop them back down again."

"He wanted me to drive Nathan up to the Steering Wheel pub. Nathan would go in the pub, whack Stevie Collins and would come back out," Mr Collins said. 

Mr McCarthy said that Nathan Killen and James Dillon “didn’t stay long” after the phone call but he did not know where they went. He said that Lisa Collins was upset after the visit.

Mr McCarthy said that he saw Nathan Killeen and James Dillon later that day when he was walking down Hyde Avenue.

He agreed with Mr Guerin that they men “took off running” when a garda car came up Hyde Avenue.

Mr McCarthy said that one of the men jumped over a wall while the other went in to his sister’s house.

He agreed that he had been questioned about the murder of Roy Collins, but he did not tell the guards what he told the court today (Thursday) because he was in fear for the lives of his family and his own life.

In cross-examination by counsel for Wayne Dundon, Mr Remy Farrell SC, Mr McCarthy was asked if he ever described Gareth Collins as a “crooked snaky cunt”. Mr McCarthy replied this was a “spur of the moment thing” in the course of an argument.

Mr Farrell also read to the witness transcripts of telephone calls made while Mr McCarthy was in prison.

Counsel read one extract where a male voice tells a female that he was talking to “the other half” who said to wait until “ye talk tomorrow”.

Asked by Mr Farrell if this exchange sounded “very much like” the witness, Lisa Collins, Gareth Collins and Anthony “Noddy” McCarthy were trying to organise something, Mr McCarthy said he did not recall the conversation.

He agreed with Mr Farrell that he was aware April Collins had Wayne Dundon up on charges of making threats to kill.

Put to him by Mr Farrell that part of transcript seemed to be the witness expressing the view that a 10 year sentence on making threats to kill would not be enough for Wayne Dundon, while Lisa Collins says “they ain’t coming back”, Mr McCarthy again said he did not remember having that conversation.

Read one part of the transcript where the male voice said “...we’ll shake hands: me, you, Gareth and Noddy” and asked if this sounded like he was going to shake hands with Gareth and Noddy over this, the witness again said he could not remember.

Asked if he remembered Lisa Collins telling him that a guard told her April Collins would not do any time in jail, and “that fella” in prison with the witness would only do another three years, Mr McCarthy said he did not.

Put to him by Mr Farrell that the transcript “sounded very much like a conspiracy to have someone stitched up”, the witness said he did not remember the conversation.

In another call, Mr Farrell said the male voice stated “Gareth says if I don’t give him a few quid he is going to make up a whole load of lies about me and give it to the guards.”

Asked by Farrell if he seriously going to tell the court he did not remember that conversation, Mr McCarthy said that this referred to an incident where Gareth Collins spotted him driving around with girls and said he was going to tell his sister Lisa, but if Mr McCarthy gave him “a few quid” he would say nothing.

He told Mr Farrell he did not remember saying that Gareth Collins had threatened to go to the guards.

When Mr Farrell said he was “struggling to understand” why the first thing the witness did was tell the one person he did not want to know about the incident, Mr McCarthy said he knew Gareth Collins was going to tell his sister anyway.

Told by Mr Farrell that he never mentions anything about girls on the tape, Mr McCarthy said he told Lisa Collins on a later prison visit.

Mr McCarthy rejected a suggestion by Mr Farrell that his explanation was “utter nonsense” and denied that he had “concocted” this with Gareth Collins.

Recordings of the conversations where then played to the court, after which Mr McCarthy confirmed that the voices on the recordings were him and Lisa Collins.

Mr McCarthy denied that gardai who visited him prison ever brought anything with them.  Asked by Mr Farrell if they had ever brought a McDonald’s he replied: “You’re having a laugh are ya?”

The trial continues. 

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