Courts

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Court throws out Ger Dundon’s appeal against five-year sentence over violent car chase

Brian Kavanagh

Published 16/09/2013|16:58

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Leading Limerick gang member Ger Dundon
Leading Limerick gang member Ger Dundon

Limerick gangland figure Ger Dundon has failed in his appeal against his five-year sentence for violent disorder.

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The Court of Criminal Appeal this afternoon found there was no error in principle in the five-year sentence imposed on Ger Dundon (25) in February 2011 for violent disorder at Sarsfield Avenue, Garryowen on February 17, 2010.

His co-accused Christopher McCormack (30), of McNamara Terrace, Wolfe Tone St, received a five-year sentence with two years suspended after subsequently pleading guilty to the same offence in concert with his brother David McCormack (28) and Gareth Collins Keogh (29).

The Special Criminal Court suspended the final two years of Christopher McCormack’s sentence after hearing “credible” evidence that he would leave Limerick city when his custodial term expires.

The court heard the charge against Ger Dundon, with a last address at Hyde Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, Limerick, arose following attempts by others to collect €20,000 they believed they were owed by nightclub promoter Mark Heffernan.

There was evidence that although Dundon was not involved in earlier attempts to get the money from Mr Heffernan, there was “linkage” between events which eventually culminated in a group of men chasing Mr Heffernan’s four-wheel drive across Limerick city on February 17.

Mr Heffernan told gardai that he had parked his jeep outside Garryowen post office when a number of people armed with hammers got out of a blue Volvo car which had parked alongside him, and that he recognised Ger Dundon sitting in the front passenger seat of the car.

He told gardai that he accelerated away from the scene, but the Volvo car gave chase and eventually cornered him as he attempted to affect a U-turn on Sarsfield Avenue.  Mr Heffernan said that Dundon got out of the passenger seat and began to wave his arms, shouting at him to stop the car.

Mr Heffernan was further pursued by the Volvo car, which caused him to run red lights as he drove out on to the Dublin road and circled Limerick city while attempting to contact gardai on his mobile phone. The court heard that Mr Heffernan is now under 24-hour garda protection.

Counsel for the accused man, Brendan Nix SC, submitted that the Special Criminal Court failed to apply the principle of parity when imposing sentence on Ger Dundon, especially having regard to the sentence imposed on Christopher McCormack.

He said that father-of-three Dundon, who has 99 previous convictions, was “a nuisance and a pest” but had only made one previous appearance in the Circuit Criminal Court.

Mr Nix said the height of Dundon’s involvement was that he ran forward at Mr Heffernan’s vehicle and shouted something. He had no weapon with him.

He said that his client “knows he has no future here” and “knows there is no future” in Ireland or Limerick for anyone who carries the name Dundon.

Mr Nix said that after his release from prison Ger Dundon intends going to England to take up employment. “If my client is telling the truth about his future in Ireland then I don’t think we need worry about this man again,” Mr Nix said.

He said the applicant was aware he had no future in Ireland and that his name was going to follow him “for the rest of his life”.

Mr Nix said that Dundon had only four months left to serve of his sentence, and would be willing to give an undertaking to be of good behaviour should his sentence be altered.

Counsel for the State, Sean Guerin BL, submitted that Dundon had committed an “organised and pre-planned crime”, that was very different to the norm in cases of violent disorder.

He said there was no real basis for distinguishing Dundon from the other co-accused and told the court that Dundon was effectively caught in the vehicle that had been chasing the unfortunate Mr Heffernan around Limerick city.

Chief Justice Susan Denham said the court found that there was no error in the sentence determination of five years imprisonment for each of the defendants.

She said the Special Criminal Court had considered the circumstances of each of the co-accused, and noted that Ger Dundon had a significant number of previous convictions and that there was no evidence he planned to leave Limerick as suggested.

Chief Justice Denham said there was no disparity between Dundon and McCormack’ sentence in these circumstances and the court would accordingly dismiss the appeal.

Last month, Ger Dundon’s brother John (30) was found guilty of the 2008 murder of innocent rugby player Shane Geoghegan and sentenced to life imprisonment by the non-jury Special Criminal Court.

The cases against Ger Dundon was not sent forward to the three-judge non-jury court under new anti-gangland laws but was instead forwarded under existing legislation which allows the Director of Public Prosecutions to send non-terrorist cases for trial at the court.

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