News Courts

Sunday 21 September 2014

Man (33) who assisted in disposal of body and impeded murder trial receives six-year jail sentence

Published 18/06/2014 | 17:43

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MURDER HUNT: The body of Peter Gunn was found in a drain on a back road in north Dublin
The body of Peter Gunn was found in a drain on a back road in north Dublin

A Dublin man who assisted in the disposal of a body and impeded a murder trial has received a six year prison sentence, with the final three years suspended.

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Alan Harte aged 33, of Clareville Grove, Glasnevin, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the murder of his friend, Peter Gunn, aged 28, on January 4, 2009 at a flat at Cabra Park in Phibsborough.

A jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of assisting in the disposal of Mr Gunn's body.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said that Harte's version of events had been accepted by the jury.

Det Sgt Alan Brady previously confirmed that, following an evening out drinking with Harte, Mr Gunn was killed in a Cabra Park flat with a meat knife after 2.30am.

Kastriot Boza, who was in the flat, alleged the murder was committed by Harte.

The court heard that, following a phonecall, Heyrush Rama unknowingly assisted in bringing Mr Gunn’s body to a location 14km away from the flat in Phibsborough.

The body was placed in the back of Mr Rama’s car on the pretext that Mr Gunn was asleep. The body was then removed and dumped into a water-filled trench.

Harte said that the killer had threatened him with a knife and told him that the body had to be cut up.

Harte had gotten into the passenger seat of the van and directed the driver to the location in Phibsborough.

Mr Justice McCarthy said Harte had placed a proactive and significant role in terms of impeding the investigation. He said the murder has had a ghastly affect on the victim's family.

Mr Gunn's mother said she is serving a life sentence because of her son's murder, the judge said.

He suspended the last three years of a six year prison term to give Harte “an opportunity for genuine reform”. Harte must attend therapeutic services run by the Probation Services. The sentence was backdated by eight months from April 8 last to take account of time already served in custody on this offence.

Mr Justice McCarthy noted that Harte's 171 previous convictions were mainly offences of theft and larceny and did not involve any violent crimes.

He said that Harte's “traumatic life is really a catalogue of all that can befall a man in terms of hardship”. A probation services report noted that Harte suffered childhood cruelty and neglect by his alcoholic mother and that her children were so hungry that they ate scraps of stale bread given to them by neighbours.

The judge said it is no surprise that Harte became involved in criminality at the age of 12.

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