Thursday 21 September 2017

Man was shot in head in front of teammates as he walked off soccer pitch

Robbie O’Hanlon was told six days earlier that his life was in danger, inquest hears

Robbie O’Hanlon (25) was shot in the head at the CIE Sports and Social Club at Coldcut Road on the evening of March 14, 2007.
Robbie O’Hanlon (25) was shot in the head at the CIE Sports and Social Club at Coldcut Road on the evening of March 14, 2007.

A MAN who was shot in the head in front of his teammates as he walked off a soccer pitch knew his life was in danger, an inquest heard.

Robbie O’Hanlon (25) from the Park West Point Apartments in Clondalkin, Dublin 22, was shot in the head at the CIE Sports and Social Club at Coldcut Road on the evening of March 14, 2007. 

He had been warned by gardaí that his life was under threat six days earlier.

O’Hanlon was a known criminal and his death is believed to have been part of a gangland feud. In June 2005, while giving evidence at the trial of two other men for the murder of Jonathan O’Reilly, he accused a defence barrister of putting his life in danger. 

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard from his friend Paul Sheil who had been playing soccer with O’Hanlon in the hour before his death. They were walking off the pitch, he said, when he heard a bang.

“All I remember is I saw a bang and Robbie screaming, putting his hands up to his head. I thought someone had thrown a banger or something. Then I saw two guys with balaclavas. One guy walked right up to him… It was a handgun, it wasn’t even that loud. I saw him shooting Robbie right in the head,” he said.

The court heard that up to 60 people were filing out of the pitches at the time and they scattered as the shots rang out. The attackers were seen making their escape down the side of the pitches into a nearby estate.

There were a number of off-duty gardaí at the scene who were preparing to start their own football game when the incident happened. Sergeant Eamonn Tuohy told the court that O’Hanlon was unconscious and his breathing erratic when he went to check on him. He watched O’Hanlon take “his last few breaths”, he told the court.

He was already dead when paramedics arrived at the scene.

The post-mortem was carried out by state pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy who found that O’Hanlon had been shot four times from behind with wounds to the head and torso. He would have been unconscious immediately having suffered a “devastating” head injury, coroner Dr Brian Farrell told the family.

No file has been sent to the director of public prosecutions in relation to the death. Detective Inspector Richard McDonnell of Lucan Garda Station said it was a targeted shooting with the gunmen "waiting in the shadows" for O'Hanlon. The dead man had been informed by gardaí of the threat to his life on the Friday before his death, he said. The investigation remains open. 

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

By Gareth Naughton

Online Editors

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