Exclusive: Steve Collins on the family's hopes after double murder verdict
* Collins family free to return after two are jailed for murder of Roy
* Wayne Dundon was willing to pay €500k for another 'hit' before trial
* Twelve members of notorious crime gang now serving life in prison
ROY Collins' family are to return from their enforced exile abroad and restart their lives.
In an exclusive interview with the Irish Independent, Roy's father Steve said that he was elated that Wayne Dundon and Nathan Killeen had been jailed for life.
He said the "Godless creatures" had killed his son, his hopes and his aspirations but now the Collins family are "finally free again to live our lives and rebuild".
Speaking hours after the verdict at the Special Criminal Court, he said: "I am elated, just elated. Sometimes you think that you are never going to get to this day. Ten years of my life have been soaked up by this whole thing and it is just fantastic that we are finally free again."
Twelve members of the McCarthy/ Dundon gang and their associates are now serving life sentences for murder.
As Dundon began his sentence, the Irish Independent learned he had offered to pay a hitman €500,000 to kill another member of the Collins family in the build-up to the trial.
Several groups, including dissident republicans, were approached by associates of Dundon but declined to get involved with the gangster.
Sources say that Dundon was initially willing to pay €200,000 to see another gun attack carried out against the family but raised this to €500,000 after meeting severe resistance from the criminal fraternity who feared the fallout.
The murder of Roy Collins on Holy Thursday 2009 shocked the country and sparked a massive backlash against gangland criminals in Limerick.
The father of two young girls was working in Coin Castle Amusements at the Roxboro Road Shopping Centre when he was shot in the chest by James Dillon who is already serving a life sentence for murder.
Yesterday the Special Criminal Court ruled that Wayne Dundon (36), of Lenihan Avenue, Prospect, had ordered the killing from inside prison and Nathan Killeen (24), of Hyde Road, Prospect, was the getaway driver.
They had both pleaded not guilty to murdering the 35-year-old who was engaged to be married.
Dundon, who was once described as being the most dangerous criminal in Limerick, was the leader of the Dundon/McCarthy gang, dubbed Murder Inc.
The Collins' ordeal began in 2004 when Steve's adopted son Ryan Lee was shot in the leg after refusing to allow Wayne Dundon's sister Annabel into a Limerick bar where he was working as a doorman. Ryan was in court with the family yesterday to hear the murder verdicts.
Two years ago Steve Collins was forced to leave Ireland with his wife Carmel and grown children as part of a witness relocation programme. But now he is reconsidering his situation.
"I would love to think that we can come home now that we are free of the Dundons and they are finished," Mr Collins told the Irish Independent.
"We never wanted to go away but we didn't have a choice. People make a decision to emigrate because they want to go away and do certain things.
"But when this is forced on you it is completely different. None of us wanted to do it. We all stood by each other and stuck with each other and we left together," he added.
"It has been so hard on me and Carmel. Our kids were forced to leave their friends and go to a new country and start to make friends again."
Mr Collins, who successfully campaigned for tougher laws to tackle organised crime in the wake of Roy's murder, said he was "worried" that Dundon might not be convicted.
"As we listened to the judge's summing up we were worried because there are so many twists and turns. It seemed to be touch and go but thank God we got there and justice has been done," he added.
There was forensic evidence linking Killeen to the killing. Firearms residue was detected on the clothes he was wearing when he was found hiding under insulation in an attic shortly after the murder.
Other evidence came from witness testimony, with a number of former associates of Dundon and Killeen testifying against them.
These were siblings Gareth Collins aka Keogh, Lisa Collins and April Collins; along with Dundon's cousins, Christopher McCarthy and Anthony 'Noddy' McCarthy. The defence had questioned their motives and credibility.
Yesterday Steve Collins broke down several times as he read a deeply-moving victim impact statement into the court record.
"On the 9th of April, 2009 cowardly evil men, devoid of any semblance of mercy or humanity, murdered Roy, shooting him in an act of cold-blooded, calculated murder," he said.
"And why? Because we as a family did our civic duty and respected the law of the land. It has been exactly 1,833 days since these terrorists infected our lives with their hateful poison and destroyed everything that we held dear in life."
The convicted killers showed no emotion as they watched the man who they had actually intended to kill on that day.
It took the presiding judge in the non-jury court almost two hours to deliver judgment in the case.
Steve and his wife Carmel hugged their children. The court rose for half an hour to give Mr Collins a chance to compose himself to present his victim impact statement.
Later he told the Irish Independent that it had been hard to sit across from his son's killers for over two months.
"I looked into their faces during the trial. It was very upsetting to be in the same room as them, to be there every day and look at the people who have taken your loved one away," Mr Collins added.
"This is the best part. This is why you have to get justice for your son because that is all you have left. You can not turn into one of them, you can not do the tit-for-tat."
Mr Collins paid tribute to the detectives who investigated his son's murder and thanked them for their perseverance in bringing Limerick's most dangerous men to justice.
"The city's head of detectives Jim Browne promised me that they would not rest until they brought these men to justice," he said. "The gardai put in a huge amount of work."
Meanwhile the businessman said that the tough new anti-gang laws introduced in the wake of Roy's murder were part of his legacy.