Monday 20 October 2014

April and Annabel - the two women at the centre of murderous Dundon McCarthy gang

One woman will be under armed protection for much of her life – while the other remains at large with a warrant out for her arrest

Published 17/07/2014 | 13:06

Left to right: John Dundon with his father Kenneth Dundon and brothers Wayne Dundon and Dessie Dundon.
Left to right: John Dundon with his father Kenneth Dundon and brothers Wayne Dundon and Dessie Dundon.
Annabell Dundon
Annabell Dundon

These are the two women whose lives have changed beyond all recognition following the conviction of Wayne Dundon for the murder of Roy Collins.

They were once at the centre of the Dundon McCarthy gang – but now one lives under garda protection, while the other has fled the country.

The seeds of their story begins a decade ago when a then 14-year-old Annabel Dundon attempted to gain entry into a pub.

The teenager was accompanied to the pub by her elder brother, Wayne Dundon.

Barman Ryan Lee made the correct assumption Annabel Dundon was underage and refused to admit her into Brannigan’s pub, a respected establishment run by Ryan’s adoptive father Steve Collins.

Annabel’s brother unsuccessfully made remonstrations on his little sister’s behalf – but to no avail.

PL1570068@Annabell Dundon.jpg 

Annabel Dundon

At this stage, older brother Wayne Dundon cocked his fingers in the shape of a gun, pushed it against Ryan Lee's face and warned: 'F**k you, you're dead'.

Ryan Lee’s decision sent Wayne Dundon into fury.

The move was perceived as a slight to one of Limerick’s Dundon McCarthy gang and set off a chain of events which subsequently led to the murder of innocent businessman Roy Collins, the son of Steve Collins.

The then teenager – Annabel Dundon – is the only daughter of parents Kenneth and Anne McCarthy.

She is the only sister of Wayne (36), John (31), Dessie (30) and Ger Dundon (27). All are, with exception of Ger Dundon,  in prison serving terms for three separate murders.

April Collins was once part of this close-knit clan – she was the partner of Ger Dundon and mother to his three children.

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April Collins and Ger Dundon

Fast forward seven years later.

Annabel’s brothers Wayne and John are serving life for the murder of Roy Collins and Shane Geoghegan respectively.

And April Collins was State witness against them.

Annabel remains unlawfully at large – an arrest warrant has been issued for her and it’s believed she’s 'hiding out in London'.

April Collins was just 16 when she began a relationship with Ger Dundon.

The pair had three children together before they split in 2011.

Shortly afterwards, Collins (27) began a relationship with Thomas O’Neill, a convicted rapist. The couple have one child together.

Ger Dundon was in prison when April ended their relationship - and her new relationship with O’Neill began several months later.

The news that his former partner found love again sent Dundon into a rage and he broke up his cell.

He then threatened April’s life – and also made threats against her mother Avril.

It was this acrimonious break-up that led to the fall of one of the country’s biggest criminal gangs.

Shortly after Ger Dundon’s threats, April contacted her garda-liaison officer and admitted she 'knew some stuff about murders'.

PL1993179@16092013April Col.jpg 

April Collins

As a result, April became a state witness in two murder trials before the Special Criminal Court.

The first was the trial of John Dundon, who was being tried for Shane Geoghegan’s death. Shane was an innocent rugby player walking home from a night out when he was gunned down by assassin Barry Doyle in a case of mistaken identity in November 2008.

April Collins admitted witnessing John Dundon ordering the hit on gang rival John McNamara less than 48 hours before Shane Geoghegan's death

Before the Special Criminal Court where she was giving evidence against John Dundon, April Collins outlined how Ger Dundon had her "trapped" -- they were living in Spain for a few months in 2008, but he had taken her passport.

"Ger Dundon was beating me the whole time. I rang my mother to get me a ticket when he was asleep. It was my only way out of there," she said.

However, the couple stayed together after that.

On the night of November 9, 2008, when Mr Geoghegan (28) was shot five times as he ran for his life, it emerged that April and Ger were staying in the Hilton Hotel in Limerick city.

On the night before the murder, April said she heard how John Dundon, at his home on Hyde Road, Limerick, ordered Barry Doyle to kill John McNamara -- a man who lives four doors away from Mr Geoghegan. She told the court she had first met Barry Doyle while in Spain with Ger months earlier.

"I was in the house when John Dundon ordered the hit," she testified.

"He was explaining to Barry Doyle what he (McNamara) looked like, the times of his comings and goings and that the gun and the car and everything was sorted."

April then claimed Dundon told Doyle: "The gun is there. You kill him."

She also spoke of the climate of fear that surrounded the events of the night that November five years ago.

Two hours before the gun attack, April Collins was stopped by gardai while driving through Limerick city.

But she told the court she could not tell the gardai who stopped her on the night of the planned gun attack in Dooradoyle.

"I couldn't say that. I would have been killed myself. My family would have been killed," she said.

The following morning between 6.30am and 7am, April, Ger and their children left the Hilton Hotel.

April drove to Finnegan's pub and restaurant on the outskirts of Limerick city. They met John Dundon and Barry Doyle in the car park.

"John was very excited and saying 'Johnny Mac is dead'," April said. When it turned out that another man had been killed instead, John Dundon started "roaring and shouting" at Barry Doyle.

"John started panicking, giving out to Barry that it was the wrong man, not Johnny Mac," she continued.

"He was saying: 'You hit the wrong man.' Barry was saying: 'It is him. The way you described him, that's the man I killed.'"

Dundon then told his brother, Ger, and April to "go away for a week".

Her sister Lisa corroborated her evidence.

John Dundon was subsequently found guilty and is now serving a life term for the murder of Shane Geoghegan.

From the time Ryan Lee refused admittance to a 14-year-old Annabel Dundon to his pub, the family of Steve Collins became targets of the Dundon McCarthy gang.

Steven Collins’ son Roy - a father of two children - was shot dead in his amusement arcade in Limerick in 2009 on the orders of Wayne Dundon after the criminal was jailed for seven years for threatening to kill Ryan Lee.

Separately, Ryan Lee was shot twice by a gunman – although nobody has ever been convicted for the crime.

Roy Collins’ family received round the clock garda protection but subsequently moved abroad amid fears for their safety in Limerick.

Steve Collins said the Dundon gang "destroyed our family".

During Wayne Dundon’s trial for the murder of Roy Collins, April Collins once again gave evidence against a Dundon brother, securing his conviction.

Earlier this week, Wayne Dundon was convicted for the murder of Roy Collins and will be serving life in prison.

Away from the Special Criminal Court, other cases were ongoing.

April Collins had been prosecuted before a district court on charges of intimidating a witness.

Separately, Annabel was due to appear before court in connection to an alleged offence.

However, she was a no-show and a European Arrest Warrant was issued for her.

Annabel fled Ireland – with various sources saying she is living in either London or Manchester.

What has come out in recent days is the role that Annabel’s deceased partner Joe Hehir played in securing convictions against his girlfriend’s brothers.

Since the conviction of Wayne Dundon and Nathan Killeen, it has emerged that Joe Hehir, who was once engaged to Annabel, gave statements to gardai about the murder of Roy Collins and the role the Dundons had played in the murder of Dublin mum-of-two Baiba Saulite. The Latvian was shot down on her doorstep as she smoked a cigarette while her two children were sleeping in 2006. Her murder shocked the nation – nobody has ever been convicted and the investigation is ongoing.

Gardai in Limerick received vital information on the murder of Baiba Saulite after Hehir came forward to officers more than a year after Roy Collins' death.

Unknown to Annabel, Hehir went on to provide them with detailed statements on the murders of Roy Collins and Baiba Saulite and his knowledge of them.

However, Hehir (23) subsequently died suddenly at his Limerick home in Raheen Square, Ballinacurra-Weston in May 2011.

His death, which was treated as an accident, meant he could never provide testimony.

Hehir explained to officers that a map of Saulite's home estate in Swords, Dublin was provided to John Dundon in prison by a criminal who wanted the mother murdered.

Convicted murderer, John Dundon was given the map which he then passed on to his associates in Limerick.

Eventually, the map was given in secret by an associate of the Dundon gang, who has also been imprisoned as part of the garda crackdown on organised crime in Limerick, to Joe Hehir.

Hehir and his partner, Annabel Dundon transported the map to Dublin.

The couple later broke up and unknown to Annabel, Joe Hehir went to the gardai and told officers what had happened.

He later provided a statement to officers detailing how he was given the map and by whom, and where he brought it to in Dublin. He also gave information on what occurred on the day of Roy Collins' murder.

He and Annabel Dundon were in a Statoil service station, alongside the Coin Castle amusement arcade at Roxboro Shopping Centre, when James Dillon opened fire on Roy Collins while the getaway driver, Nathan Killeen, waited outside in a stolen black Mercedes.

Annabel and Joe observed Killeen and Dillon make their escape from the scene in the stolen car which struck several parked vehicles before it was set alight.

Hehir was no stranger to Limerick's criminal scene.

On February 23, 2009, Hehir was seriously injured when at least ten shots were fired into his home and he was hit once in the back.

Annabel is not in Ireland – neither is her brother Ger. He was released from prison in January of this year and returned to Limerick. However, it is understood he is now primarily based in London.

Many will argue that Annabel has no reason to return to Limerick – her three brothers are each serving lengthy terms for murder (her brother Dessie was convicted of the murder of rival gang boss Kieran Keane) and the terror and power the Dundons once wielded has now dissipated with their incarceration.

But the threat against April Collins remains real.

April has been offered relocation for her own safety – but she has refused to leave the city, choosing to stay so she can remain close to her family and friends.

Despite the jailing of Wayne Dundon this week, gardai say the threats against April, her sister Lisa and their mother Avril remain real and the three women will remain under their protection for the rest of their lives.

Not surprisingly, the prospect of being placed under garda protection for much of her life is not something the young mum-of-four relishes.

During the trial of John Dundon for the murder of Shane Geoghegan, April contended that "no one would like to live the life I'm living, under garda protection 24-7".

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