Criminal says he was offered €20k to kill father of Roy Collins, court told
A convicted criminal has told the Special Criminal Court that he was offered €20,000 to take part in the killing of publican Steve Collins, the father of murdered Limerick businessman Roy Collins.
Gareth Collins said that he repeatedly refused to be the getaway driver in the killing and he said that Wayne Dundon told him to be the driver by mobile phone from his prison cell.
Wayne Dundon (35) of Lenihan Avenue, Prospect; and Nathan Killeen (23) of Hyde Road, Prospect have pleaded not guilty to the murder of 35-year-old businessman Roy Collins at Coin Castle Amusements, Roxboro Road Shopping Centre on April 9, 2009.
Gareth Collins (31), also known as Gareth Keogh, told the court that he is serving a seven and half years prison sentence imposed by the Special Criminal Court for demanding money with menaces and threatening to kill. He said he has twelve months of that sentence left to serve.
He told prosecuting counsel Michael O'Higgins SC, that he shared a cell with Wayne Dundon and on one occasion he heard Dundon having a mobile phone conversation with his wife.
He said that Dundon was "snapping" and was upset. Dundon said that his wife said to him "don't let them get away with this. They are after ruining our family." He took this as a reference to the Collins family.
He said he was released from prison in January 2008 and went to live in Portlaoise with his ex girlfriend and daughter. He said he went to Limerick for a family do and missed the bus back to Portlaoise and he took a Mercedes car that was parked in Raheen Square.
The next day his sister told him that Ger Dundon was "going mad" about the car and that there was a kilo of weed in the boot. The witness said he looked in the boot and there was nothing there. His sister told him that Ger Dundon wanted €5,000 for the car and the "weed", €1,000 for the car and €4,000 for the weed. He said that later Ger Dundon calmed down.
In March 2009 he said Nathan Killeen came to his sister's house in Limerick where he had moved and asked him to drive a car and there would be "twenty grand" for doing that. He said he handed him his mobile phone and Wayne Dundon was on the line. He said Dundon asked him about driving a car.
"It's only to drive Nathan up the road for two minutes. He will go and whack Stevie. It will be a ten second thing. He will go in and come out," said the witness.
Mr Collins said that on the day of the killing Nathan Killeen and James Dillon called to his sister's house and they had a converation in the garden. He told Killeeen that he was not getting involved. "He snapped at me. He was cursing me and said what's going on," he added.
He said that Killeen got Wayne Dundon on his mobile phone and and Dundon said:"You just drop them up and drop them back down again."
"He wanted me to drive Nathan up to the Steering Wheel pub. Nathan would go in the pub, whack Stevie Collins and would come back out," he said. Gareth Collins said that Killeen then handed the phone to James Dillon who mumbled something and then the call ended.
Killeen and Dillon then left and ten or twenty minutes later they arrived back at his sister's house in a taxi. Killeen was saying get a petrol bomb and then he went to the back of the house and came back with a bottle, petrol and a rag. The two men then left and the witness said that a short time later he heard police and ambulance sirens and saw black smoke coming from behind houses.
He then saw Killeen and Dillon running around the corner being chased by two detectives. Dillon ran through to the back of the house and Killeen got over a wall. After that gardai surrounded the place.
Cross examined by Remy Farrell SC, for Dundon, Gareth Collins admitted that he had been arrested for rape after he hd sex with two 15 year old girls while he lived in Portlaoise. Mr Farrell put it to him that he had moved back to Limerick because " a small mob" had gathered outside the house in Portlaoise.
Earlier Steve Collins, father of the victim, told the court that in April 2009 he was running The Steering Wheel pub and his son Roy was operating the Coin Catle Amusement Arcade. He said he had been running the pub for twenty two years , while Roy had been running the amusement arcade for about five years.
He said he left for work at 7.40am with an armed escort as he had every day. His son Roy popped in for a chat around 11 and then left to open up the amusement arcade. Mr Collins said that around noon one of his barmen told him there was "a fellow bleeding next door."
He ran next door to the arcade and saw his son crouched on his knees holding himself. Roy said:"I'm after being shot Dad" and when he asked him did he see who shot him, his son replied :"No."
Mr Collins said he did his best to comfort his son and his son told him how much he loved him and his mother. Then the gardai and an ambulance arrived and Roy was taken to hospital.
Cross examined by Remy Farrell SC for Dundon, Mr Collins said that twelve days after the incident he was driving home with his son Steve following him in his own car. They pulled in to discuss something when a Toyota Avensis car driven by a woman and containing a number of men pulled in beside them.
He said one of the men was hanging out of the car window and "giving it loads" and also making hand gestures, pointing as if he had a gun. The Avensis drove off and he followed it and alerted the gardai.
Garda Steven Kelleher said that he and Garda Deirdre Foley were waved down at the Roxboro shopping centre by people who said there had been a traffic accident.He went to the Coin Castle amusement arcade and he saw Roy Collins on his hands and knees with a bloodstain on his back and a pool of blood on the ground.
There was also a bullet on the ground beside him and a bunch of keys.
He saw another man holding his hand and asking for an ambulance to be called.
Garda Kelleher said he went in the ambulance with Roy Collins to the hospital and Mr Collins became distressed on the way and had breathing difficulties.
He remained conscious but at 12.40 he lost consciousness. After fifteen minutes he was pronounced dead.
Garda Deirdre Collins, formerly Foley, said that when she saw Roy Collins in the amusement arcade she asked him who had shot him but he said nothing. He said he was finding it hard to breathe and was in a lot of pain.
The trial continues later today before the three women judges of the non jury court , presided over by Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley.