Dad tells of heartache as thug gets life for murder
THE devastated father of a young carpenter yesterday told of the trauma the family endured when the weapon used to murder him was produced in court and his relief that his son had been "cleared in court" of any criminal involvement.
Kenneth Collopy (20) of Killonan, Ballysimon, in Limerick was jailed for life yesterday after a jury found him unanimously guilty of the murder of Daniel Fitzgerald (25).
The trial heard that Mr Fitzgerald was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" when he was shot outside his uncle's mobile home in Ballysimon on December 8, 2009.
The verdict followed just over two hours of deliberations at the Central Criminal Court.
Collopy's lip curled into an almost triumphant smirk as the jury foreman delivered the verdict and he smiled and nodded, upbeat as Judge Barry White handed down the mandatory life sentence.
Collopy's mother Maria subsequently left the courtroom with her daughters, loudly proclaiming: "Love you, Kenneth, love you no matter what."
In a victim impact statement, the victim's father Noel Fitzgerald told the court how the "most important person" in this case had been silenced: "No, not Kenneth Collopy, our son Daniel," he said.
He had been shot dead for something "he was oblivious to", Mr Fitzgerald added.
During the trial, the defence had argued that Collopy had only intended to fire at the Fitzgeralds' home after he had been mistakenly led to believe that a member of the family was responsible for an arson attack on his mother's van, which was filled with clothes she sold in a market.
Mr Fitzgerald said his son had no role in any dispute, feud or crime and that Daniel "had absolutely no criminal connections whatsoever".
He described his son as a loyal and trustworthy person who had been on his way home to feed the family pets when he was shot dead.
As he spoke, Daniel Fitzgerald's "steady girlfriend" Mairead sobbed in her seat, huddled close to Daniel's mother, Teresa.
Meanwhile, trial witness David Bussoli was yesterday warned by Mr Justice White that he may be prosecuted for perjury following his court appearance in which he claimed he could remember nothing of the evening.
The judge is sending a file to the DPP for his consideration.
During the two-week trial, eyewitnesses told of being in a Toyota Corolla with Collopy when he drove it into the Fitzgeralds' yard and fired up to 17 shots from a Glock semi-automatic handgun.
Speaking outside the court as his wife clutched a framed photograph of their son, Mr Fitzgerald spoke of his relief that his son's name had now been cleared of any criminal involvement. The worst he had even done was to get "a speeding ticket now and again".
Mr Fitzgerald said his family had found the trial very harrowing since it was the first time they had heard the details of how Daniel had died.
Particularly difficult was the production in court of the Glock gun used in the shooting, he said.
However, he said the family had got the result they wanted and this meant they could move on, adding: "We just have to move on and not be victims forever of Kenneth Collopy."