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Sunday 21 September 2014

April Collins: I could have saved Shane Geoghegan's life

Natasha Reid

Published 26/07/2013 | 17:00

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April Collins, who gave evidence in the trial of John Dundon

A Limerick woman has agreed that she could have saved Shane Geoghegan’s life if she had taken two opportunities she had to report a planned murder in the hours before he died.

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April Collins (26) was giving evidence to the Special Criminal Court in the trial of 30-year-old Limerick man John Dundon, who is charged with murdering the Garryowen rugby player.

The trial has heard that the 28-year-old was gunned down in a case of mistaken identity as he returned home to his girlfriend around 1am November 9th, 2008. He died at the scene of gunshot wounds to his head and trunk.

Ms Collins, who is the ex-partner of Dundon’s brother, Gerard Dundon, began giving evidence to the trial yesterday.

She told the three-judge, non-jury court that the actual target of the killing was a man named John McNamara. She testified that she heard John Dundon order his killing a night or two before the shooting and that he panicked when he heard the wrong man had been shot.

Dundon of Hyde Road in the city has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Geoghegan at Clonmore, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, Limerick.

His barrister, Brendan Nix SC, began cross-examining Ms Collins today.

The mother-of-four agreed that she had checked into a hotel in Limerick with Gerard Dundon the night before the murder to create an alibi.

She said she couldn’t remember being stopped by the Gardaí elsewhere in the city twice that night just hours before the murder, but agreed that she could have been.

Mr Nix put it to her that this had given her two opportunities to tell the Gardaí that there was going to be a killing.

“I couldn’t say that to the guards at the time,” she replied. “I’d have been killed myself and my family would have been killed.”

He put it to her that she could have saved a man’s life.

“That’s correct,” she replied.

“Do you feel bad about it?” he asked her.

“An innocent man is dead,” she noted. “I couldn’t have said anything about it or I would have been killed.”

She was asked if she had any regrets.

“I feel very sorry for the family,” she said.

He asked her how she came to make the statement that led to her giving evidence in his client’s trial.

“I was telling my mother that I knew some things about murders and she rang James Hourihan,” she said, explaining that Gda Hourihan was her liaison officer ‘over being threatened by John Dundon and Wayne Dundon’.

Gerard Dundon was in jail at this stage, she confirmed.

She said that she made an appointment with Garda Hourihan to go into the garda station, where she made a statement.

Mr Nix put it to her that she was giving the Gardaí ‘very important information’ which ‘weighed heavily’ on her and that she was ‘shocked and horrified about the ramblings of John Dundon about the killing of a human being’.

“Correct,” she replied.

“I was terrified, terrified and very upset,” she said later. “I dread these people.”

She agreed that she had known Garda Hourihan before he became her liaison officer and safety officer.

“He had me charged before with intimidation of a witness,” she said, agreeing that she did, in fact, threaten the witness.

She agreed that she went to the High Court to seek bail.

However, she said she couldn’t remember Gda Hourihan saying that she was a member of a most violent family and should be refused bail notwithstanding the fact she was pregnant.

She got bail, she said.

She agreed that she had received a three-year suspended sentence for the crime, but denied that this was because she did a deal with the Gardaí.

He asked her about her other convictions for driving offences and, noting that she had got off lightly, suggested that she must lead a charmed life.

“I don’t lead any charmed life,” she replied. “No-one would like to lead the life I’m living, under garda protection 24/7.”

She said she didn’t want to talk about her safety, where she lived or how she had travelled from Limerick to Dublin for the trial.

“The man I’ve been threatened by is in court here today and he’s out to kill me,” she said, referring to the accused man.

She agreed that he was in prison and in the custody of prison officers at the moment.

She said she could not remember telling Gerard Dundon that: ‘All you have to do is make a statement of a threat to kill and you’d get someone locked up’.

“I could have,” she said.

“So planning to kill someone in front of children would get you locked up for a lot longer,” suggested Mr Nix.

“I’m here to tell the truth,” she insisted.

Mr Nix had opened his cross-examination by asking if she would consider herself to be an honest person and she said she would.

She denied his suggestion that she was a liar.

He asked if she had been granted immunity from prosecution in relation to Mr Geoghegan’s killing. However, Tom O’Connell SC, prosecuting, said that she had not.

Mr Nix will continue his cross-examination of the witness on Tuesday. Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, presiding, told her not to speak to anyone in connection with the trial before then.

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