Friday 26 December 2014

'Our son was buried alive ... but the gunman is still free to do as he pleases'

Cormac Murphy

Published 11/08/2014 | 22:42

John and Veronica O'Meara

A RUTHLESS killer who shot Wicklow man Steven O'Meara and buried him alive five years ago is still "free to do what he pleases", the victim's mother has said.

Steven (26), of Rosehill in Wicklow town, was last seen on August 6, 2009. His body was found in a shallow grave nearly five months later, on Christmas Eve.

Michael Dickenson, formerly of Darragh Park, Wicklow town, was given a life sentence for the murder in July 2012.

After driving Steven out to Ballydonnell Woods, where he was shot by another man, Dickenson helped drag the body into a pre-prepared grave.

Last year, Clement Byrne, of Gorey, Co Wexford, was sentenced to eight years for manslaughter in connection with the death.

Extortion

But Steven's mother Veronica (72) has been told that there is not enough evidence to charge the gunman.

"The man who actually pulled the trigger on Steven is still free and as far as we know living in Dublin. This man is well-known to gardai and is a serious criminal," she said.

He has "convictions for blackmail and extortion", she added.

Another individual - who paid for the killing - also remains at large.

"He has never been extradited from England where he has been hiding since the day after Steven was shot," Mrs O'Meara said.

She added that the gang had a grave ready when they took Steven to the remote woodland.

"It turned out at the inquest that he wasn't dead when they buried him," she added.

"We as parents cannot forget it. The suspects are free to do it again if they want to," Mrs O'Meara told the Herald.

Steven was "the baby" of five children, arriving 10 years after the next youngest.

A Central Criminal Court jury found Dickenson guilty of murder by majority verdict. His life sentence was backdated to December 2009 to take account of time spent in custody.

It was the prosecution's case that Dickenson was part of a joint enterprise or common design to murder Steven.

Dickenson gave evidence during the trial that O'Meara was trying to collect a drug debt of €15,000 from another man.

Mr O'Meara told the Herald her son had been "naive" in agreeing to collect the money.

Steven went to Ballydonnell Woods in the expectation of getting the cash, she added.

Dickenson admitted driving him to the woods and witnessing the murder, but insisted he did not know he was going to be shot.

He told gardai where the body was buried and claimed he found out after fleeing to England that the killers had been paid €6,000 for the crime.

Catherine Greene, the dead man's partner and the mother of his three children, read a victim impact statement to the court in which she described the months before Steven's body was found as "a nightmare".

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