Gang boss escaped Geoghegan rap due to witness's death
THE gangland boss who ordered the botched hit that led to the death of Shane Geoghegan was identified by a rival criminal more than three years ago.
But the star witness who was to help gardai bring him to justice accidentally shot himself before he could testify.
The Irish Independent can reveal that gardai were set to bring a case against a senior member of the McCarthy-Dundon gang following the murder of the rugby player.
Well-known criminal Philip Collopy (29) had provided them with crucial evidence but he accidentally shot himself in the head in March 2009, dashing hopes of a prosecution.
However, officers are now confident that they can bring senior gangsters to justice for the 2009 murder of Mr Geoghegan (28) after evidence of their roles was heard in court.
Gardai last night achieved their first conviction in the case. Drug dealer Barry Doyle (26) is beginning a life sentence after a jury unanimously found him guilty of murder.
He had admitted to gardai being the gunman who chased and shot Mr Geoghegan in a Limerick housing estate in a case of mistaken identity.
Doyle, from Portland Row, Dublin, smirked as the verdict was read out at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin.
Mr Geoghegan's tearful mother Mary left the court silently last night alongside his brother, Anthony. They made no comment after the verdict, which followed six hours of deliberations by the jury.
But Superintendent John Scanlan spoke to confirm that the investigation was ongoing.
John McNamara was the intended victim and lived with his girlfriend at her home in the Kilteragh estate. He had survived several previous attacks.
During the trial, one witness identified John Dundon as the man who ordered that McNamara be killed. But Doyle would not name anyone else involved, although he confessed to the murder of Mr Geoghegan in his 15th garda interview.
He admitted that he had never met Mr Geoghegan, who he described as an innocent man. Doyle gave a detailed description of the shooting and drew a map of the crime scene, which matched what ballistics experts found.
Videos of him making his confessions were shown to the jury. However, he pleaded not guilty and the defence claimed that his confessions were induced.
The court heard that Doyle left Ireland shortly after the murder but returned around Christmas 2008. He was arrested in February 2009 and interviewed 23 times.
This was the second time Doyle stood trial for Shane Geoghegan's murder. Last year a jury failed to reach a decision after deliberating for four days.
Following the guilty verdict last night Supt Scanlan said: "There are other persons who will have to be considered."
It can now be revealed that the late Philip Collopy had told gardai he was prepared to break gangland's unwritten rule to 'rat' on the rival criminal who ordered the botched hit.
In March 2009, Collopy had completed providing senior gardai in Limerick with all the evidence necessary to bring a major case against the man. But days later he accidentally shot himself dead.
He had been inspecting a Glock handgun in a house at St Munchin's Street, St Mary's Park, Limerick, and removed the loaded magazine from it while handling it. However, he failed to realise that a bullet was still in the chamber before he discharged the weapon while it was pointed at his head.
The Irish Independent has also learned that Collopy had been meeting with a senior McCarthy-Dundon gang member as part of a sham truce in the weeks before Mr Geoghegan was shot.
Collopy spoke at length with the senior gangster, who was accompanied by Barry Doyle and another young man who was also involved in the subsequent murder. The meeting took place in Cruises' Street in the heart of Limerick's shopping district in October 2008.
Collopy was informed that before any truce would be agreed, his enemy was intent on murdering McNamara and would soon do so.
But Collopy tipped off McNamara that his life was under threat and also provided McNamara with a bulletproof vest.
On the morning of November 9, Collopy received a phone call from the McCarthy-Dundon gang member mistakenly informing him that they had murdered McNamara. Collopy knew otherwise and went to the scene in the Kilteragh.
Experienced officers were taken aback as Collopy -- who had never co-operated with gardai before and was regarded as an extremely dangerous criminal -- laid out the events of the previous weeks and provided them with the case against the McCarthy-Dundon gang member. His motivation lay in having his rival locked up.
Gardai were within touching distance of a prosecution but it all ended when Collopy accidentally killed himself.
However, the garda investigation into Mr Geoghegan's murder continues.