Dad gets life for shotgun murder of his neighbour
Published 09/11/2010 | 05:00
A FATHER of two was jailed for life yesterday for the murder of a neighbour he said had threatened to slit his daughters' throats.
Brendan O'Sullivan (26), of O'Gorman Street, Kilrush, Co Clare, repeatedly shot Leslie Kenny (27) in the front garden of his home in July last year.
The victim, originally from Elm Drive, Kilrush, was a notorious criminal and drug dealer who had 82 previous convictions.
Last month a brother of the dead man, Jonathan Kenny (21), was acquitted in court after charges of threatening to kill O'Sullivan and his wife in the west Clare town earlier this year were dropped.
The case was not heard after a witness refused to give evidence in court.
O'Sullivan and Kenny knew each other since childhood. Both attended the same national school and their families are well known in Kilrush.
O'Sullivan's mother, Clare, runs a boutique shop in Moore Street while the victim's mother, Patricia, died several years ago following a long battle against cancer.
It is understood that tensions between the two men escalated in the months before last year's murder. Kenny had been subjected to a severe assault before his murder and subsequently threatened O'Sullivan, but it is believed that no formal complaint on the matter was made to gardai.
On July 29, 2009, O'Sullivan shot Kenny at close range with a double-barrelled shotgun, after first confronting him over threats he had made to slit his two and five-year-old daughters' throats, shoot down his back door and put petrol in his letterbox.
Neighbours described seeing O'Sullivan standing on his garden bench and shouting at Kenny, who lived a few doors down, "come down here and we'll sort it out".
When Kenny, who was described in court as having a "formidable reputation", walked towards the house, O'Sullivan said his wife started screaming "he's going to kill us".
He told gardai he ran upstairs to get a shotgun, and when Kenny appeared at the garden, he shot him through the chest, damaging his lung and liver.
O'Sullivan then shot him a second time through the hip, before reloading and shooting him through each knee, admitting that he fired the final shot while Kenny lay bleeding on the ground.
O'Sullivan was arrested that day and insisted he was trying to protect his family and had only wanted to scare Kenny off.
He repeatedly denied that he had obtained the shotgun for protection when the threats began, saying he was minding it at his cousin's request as she was afraid her estranged husband was going to kill himself.
It took the jury in the Central Criminal Court just over two hours to reach a unanimous murder verdict.
O'Sullivan, wearing a dark suit and white shirt, nodded and responded "thank you" as Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy handed down the mandatory life sentence.
His wife Claire broke down in tears and embraced him following the verdict.
Kenny's stepfather, John Casey, would only say that he was glad it had "come to a closure".
"There are no winners in this, but justice was done," he said.