Tuesday 26 September 2017

Partner of buried-alive drug man dreads telling children

Niamh O'Donoghue

THE partner of a man who was killed over a drug debt has told how she cannot face telling their three sons their father was buried alive.

Catherine Greene read a victim impact statement in which she described Stephen O'Meara (26) as having "a heart of gold".

Clement Byrne (49), of Gorey, Co Wexford, was charged with the murder of Mr O'Meara (26), at Ballydonnell Wood, Redcross, on August 6, 2009. He pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court last March to murder but guilty to manslaughter, and this plea was accepted.

"I have cried every day since August 6, 2009 when Steven went missing," Ms Greene said in court yesterday.

"Every night for the first six weeks I, along with family and friends of Stephen, went out searching for him, often searching until three in the morning.

"For the first two weeks I hoped I'd find him alive, but then all I hoped was to find his body.

"I cannot tell the children everything. I'm terrified of the day they hear their daddy was buried alive."

Anna Lawlor, a sister of Mr O'Meara, read a victim impact statement on behalf of her parents Veronica and John O'Meara.

"No one should die alone as Stephen did, they should be surrounded by family or even a kind stranger," she said.

"How does somebody drag someone who is still breathing and cover them with soil?"

Byrne will be sentenced for the killing next Monday.

Mr O'Meara, who was from Rosehill in Wicklow town, was shot and buried alive in a shallow grave in the woods, but his body was not found until nearly five months later, on Christmas Eve.

Det Sgt Fergus O'Brien told the court that Byrne was the second person to be convicted over the killing, but the gunman was not before the courts.

HIDING

Michael Dickenson is serving life for Mr O'Meara's murder for driving him to the woods where two men were waiting, one of whom was Byrne.

Det Sgt O'Brien also told the court the man who was hiding in the woods shot Mr O'Meara, who was employed by a Dublin gang to collect a drugs debt of €5,000 and was told it was going to be paid over that evening, the court heard.

Det Sgt O'Brien told Mr Denis Vaughan-Buckley, prosecuting, that Mr O'Meara was seen getting into Dickenson's car that day.

Byrne told gardai he punched Mr O'Meara and knocked him to the ground, then a man jumped out of the woods and shot him.

He said another person paid a man €6,000 to give Mr O'Meara "a kicking".

The court heard Byrne had 25 previous convictions and was never gainfully employed.

Irish Independent

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