Thursday 22 February 2018

Man jailed for 12 years for shooting lifelong friend

Jessica Magee

A 31-year-old Dublin man has been sentenced to twelve years in prison for killing his life-long friend over a drugs debt almost six and a half years ago.

Aidan Finnegan, of Whitestown Avenue, Hartstown, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 24-year-old Dara McCormack on February 11th, 2006.

Mr McCormack was shot in the back with a shotgun at Whitestown in Blanchardstown and died shortly afterwards in the arms of his father Thomas.

Thomas McCormack told the court that that his son named one of his best friends as his attacker in his dying moments.

He said he had knelt by his son when he found him injured and bleeding on the ground near their Blanchardstown home, and asked him, “Who shot you?”

Mr McCormack said Dara was struggling for breath as he replied “Aidan, Aidan, Da.”

Mr McCormack asked, “Aidan Finnegan fucking shot you?” and his son said, “Yes Da, Aidan.”

Detective Sergeant Michael Kennedy said a number of residents of Whitestown park described how they ran outside their homes after hearing a loud bang on the evening of February 11th, 2006.

He said one witness described two men dressed in black standing beside Dara, who said “please don’t shoot” while kicking out with his legs in an effort to defend himself.

A post mortem examination by Professor Marie Cassidy found that Dara McCormack died from a shotgun blast to the back which caused blood loss and damaged most of the major internal organs including the heart and liver.

In April, Finnegan pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to the manslaughter of Mr McCormack.

This plea was accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Detective Sargeant Michael Kennedy told the court that a garda investigation in to the shooting led detectives to believe that Finnegan and another man had been looking for money from Dara McCormack as payment for drugs.

The court heard that Dara’s sister Tammy McCormack had received a text message from her brother asking if she had €200 to lend.

He agreed that an analysis of Dara McCormack’s phone recovered a text message demanding money from a mobile number saved as “AD3”, which was subsequently linked to Aidan Finnegan.

Det Sgt Kennedy agreed with counsel for the defence, Mr Patrick Marrinan SC, that Finnegan had offered to plead guilty to manslaughter three years ago, but the plea was not accepted at the time.

In passing sentence, Mr Justice Paul Carney said Finnegan had been “a bosom and lifelong friend” of the victim, but that this had not prevented him from taking part in a “vicious attack over a squalid drug debt”, which proved fatal.

Mr Justice Carney said he did not accept Finnegan's “self-serving version of events”, and that it was clear from witnesses that he had been an “active participant” in the manslaughter of Dara McCormack.

The judge added that Mr Finnegan was “unfortunate in his friends” and did not have “a good character”, and that although his guilty plea would normally have entitled him to a significant discount, that this sentence would not be reduced because circumstances had forced the previous collapse of the trial last year.

Speaking outside the court, the victim's eldest sister Tammy Jo McCormack said she would never forgive Aidan Finnegan for taking her brother's life and causing her parents and all family so much pain and anguish.

“To completely articulate the impact that Dara's death has had on our lives is truly overwhelming and impossible,” said Ms McCormack.

She said a twelve-year sentence was surely too lenient for Aidan Finnegan's “callous and pre-meditated attack” on her brother.

She said Aidan Finnegan “handed Dara a death sentence, and his family a life sentence”, and that he had never shown any remorse to her family.

Mr Justice Paul Carney sentenced Aidan Finnegan to 12 years in prison, backdated to the 30th January 2009.

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