Saturday 25 November 2017

'Sons of Anarchy' murder has shone the spotlight on biker scene in Ireland

'No winner here' as Limerick man found guilty, writes Ryan Nugent

Alan McNamara at the Central Criminal Court. Photo: Collins Courts
Alan McNamara at the Central Criminal Court. Photo: Collins Courts

Ryan Nugent

It was a series of events that had striking similarities to American TV show 'Sons of Anarchy' - and which ultimately led to the murder of a Limerick biker through a single gunshot wound to the head.

Alan 'Cookie' McNamara (50), of the Caballeros biker club, was found guilty of murdering Andrew O'Donoghue (51) - a member of the rival Road Tramps group - on June 20, 2015.

After a trial that lasted almost two weeks, it took a jury just under three hours to decide unanimously on the guilty verdict.

McNamara, from Mountfune, Murroe, Co Limerick, will be handed a mandatory life sentence in October for a murder that was sparked by a turf war between the rival motorbike clubs.

McNamara insisted the killing was in self-defence and he claimed this most brutal slaying occurred after two threatening incidents the previous evening.

The first, according to the defence, saw McNamara, a former member of the Road Tramps, knocked to the ground in an assault outside Kelly's in Doon, a pub frequented by the Road Tramps.

Victim Andrew O’Donoghue
Victim Andrew O’Donoghue

In the second incident, his wife, Mary McNamara, said her husband was confronted and threatened outside the family home.

When the verdict was read out, members of the McNamara family burst into tears.

There was little sign of rejoicing, however, coming from the side of the victim. They were still at a massive loss as to how they had all ended up at this point.

Mr O'Donoghue's family did not speak as other members of the Road Tramps were still lost for words.

One member said he was overwhelmed by what had happened, but he insisted "there's no winner here".

He had been with Mr O'Donoghue when he died.

It had been a long two weeks and an even longer two years for this case to reach its endgame.

What was clear from the 25-month process since Mr O'Donoghue's death, was the shining of a negative spotlight on the Irish biker scene that had not really been touched on before.

Many TV viewers across the country will be familiar with the ultra-violent US biker series, 'Sons of Anarchy'.

It's a programme full of blood, violence and mayhem, that portrays motorcycle clubs in an unflattering fashion.

The show, however, is fictional and based in the United States. But this trial was real, this was Ireland and this was a man's life.

But yes the trial's evidence did throw up similarities.

After using the toilet in Kelly's pub on Friday, June 19, Mrs McNamara said she went to meet her husband outside, only to find him on the ground with "a big man on his back".

Mrs McNamara went on to say that another man in the Road Tramps club colours took her husband's badges (a waistcoat displaying the Caballeros colours), while a third restrained her from intervening.

Later, she said, three men arrived outside the family home - one armed with a gun - and shouted: "Alan, we're going to kill you and burn your house down."

Then, a witness told of how, a day later, McNamara arrived at the Road Tramps clubhouse - a mere three minutes from his own home - and shot Mr O'Donoghue dead.

The shooting took place as Road Tramp members began to close up the clubhouse following an earlier high speed chase.

Senior Counsel for the prosecution, Michael Delaney, even likened the case to the US television drama.

However, he also made sure to point out that this was Limerick, not California, and it involved middle-aged men, some with health issues.

He said McNamara "saw an opportunity to shoot a Road Tramp and wasn't going to pass it up".

Last week, the jury, comprising of seven men and four women, were sent away to deliberate.

The key question asked was for them to decide if the accused was acting in defence of himself and his family or in retaliation after he was assaulted and threatened.

It took two hours and 43 minutes to come to a decision.

A seemingly innocuous visit to a Limerick pub had ended with a man standing in the dock as a guilty of murder verdict was declared.

It was a biker turf war - but there was certainly no winner.

Irish Independent

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