Now family can finally mourn in peace
IT was the ruthlessly cold-blooded execution of an innocent and terrified man, and hearing the details for the third and final time of how Shane Geoghegan met his death was no less shocking than it had been the first time.
The story loses none of its horror amid repeated tellings, and time does nothing to erase the bitter poignancy and sheer brutality of this fatal case of mistaken identity.
As the family of the Garryowen rugby player gathered for Shane's inquest in Limerick, in what is likely to be the last official inquiry into his death, their faces betrayed the cruelty they have endured since his murder in November 2008.
However, as Shane's mother, Mary, girlfriend Jenna Barry, his brother Anthony and aunt Margaret Walsh chatted with gardai and friends before the hearing began, it was clear some peace has come with the knowledge that the perpetrators have been brought to justice.
But as coroner Dr Anthony Casey read again the evidence of the horrific gunshot injuries, the family held hands, doubtlessly reliving once again Shane's final moments amid a backdrop of blind terror.
There was nothing new in the evidence yesterday. Shane's devastating injuries had all been heard before, but it made not a whit of difference. Their pain is ever fresh.
"The first one is the late Shane Geoghegan," the coroner said before the hearing began, pronouncing it "Gogan", but the jury swiftly corrected him.
With a total of nine inquests to hear, he got proceedings rapidly under way. It was all over in less than 19 minutes.
Dr Casey suggested the family would not require the report to be read in its entirety, supposing they had heard it before, but Shane's mother was very clear on this point.
"I'd like the whole report," she said firmly.
As the coroner briskly read the physical description of the tall rugby player, pain could be seen in Jenna's face at the mention of Shane's blue eyes.
Afterwards, Dr Casey expressed his sympathies. The sympathies of the gardai and jury were offered and then, in one simple sentence, Mary Geoghegan spoke volumes.
"I'd like to say thank you," she said, with a smile that seemed to encompass her relief that the ordeal of the judicial system was over and her gratitude to friends and family for helping them through it all.
Outside, she and Jenna embraced one another and wept for a moment.
They had come through the system and seized justice for Shane.
Now all that is left is to mourn him in peace.