Thursday 20 July 2017

'I held his hand and told him to be strong' - Father of man shot dead tells inquest

Dean Johnston
Dean Johnston

Louise Roseingrave

A father held his son's hand and told him to be strong in the moments after he was fatally shot, an inquest heard.

Derek Johnston sat beside his son Dean (20) after he had been shot five times in the head and upper arm.

The young man from Moorefield Avenue, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 was shot as he sat in the back of a reversing car on May 25, 2011.

It was a bright sunny summer's evening, Dublin Coroner's Court heard. 

Mourners at the funeral of Dean Johnson
Mourners at the funeral of Dean Johnson

Mr Johnston had come home to his father's house around 6pm that night, had something to eat and left again to attend an event.

He sat into the back of a car owned by his friend's girlfriend around 60 metres from his home at around 8.45pm, the court heard. The car was reversing slowly when a gunman approached and dispatched five shots from a silver handgun.

"I was reversing checking my mirrors when I saw him, walking close to the car. It was like he was holding something, I thought it was a gun," Stacy Mullen said.

She 'curled up' when she saw him raise his hand and point the gun toward the car, she said in her deposition, read out in her absence.

"I curled up into a ball.. I heard four or five loud bangs," Ms Mullen said. She said Mr Johnston made no sound.

"He did not scream or shout. He was swaying in the back. The man was running off. I ran back into my house," she said.

The injured man's father Derek Johnston was at his neighbours house when a knock came to the door.

"Someone shouted it's your son, run," he told the court.

"I saw Dean sitting in the back of the car. I sat in beside him and held his hand and told him to be strong."

"When I was getting out I saw a shell on the ground, that's when I realised he'd been shot. I collapsed on the ground," Mr Johnston said.

Dean Johnston was rushed to hospital where he died. The cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.

Detective Inspector Richard McDonnell said 550 lines of inquiry were followed up as part of the investigation into the man's death. Gardai conducted nine searches and made seven arrests. The DPP directed no prosecution.

Three calls for information were made on Crimecall and a further call was made via Crimestoppers. The additional information was filed to the DPP as part of a supplementary file but in July 2016, the DPP again directed no prosecution due to insufficient evidence.

The jury returned a verdict of death by unlawful killing by a person or persons unknown.

"No amount of time will make a process such as this easy for those who have been bereaved," Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said.

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