Saturday 25 January 2020

Veteran newspaper vendor at risk of losing his stand 'helped gardaí track down double murderer Malcolm MacArthur'

John Breen and George Davis, pictured leaving the Four Court after a Circuit Civil Court action.Pic: Collins Courts
John Breen and George Davis, pictured leaving the Four Court after a Circuit Civil Court action.Pic: Collins Courts

Ray Managh

A Dunlaoghaire news vendor, whose staff pin-pointed the whereabouts of double murderer Malcolm MacArthur for gardaí almost 35 years ago, has to wait until Friday to see if he is to be turfed off his newspaper sales pitch at the entrance to Dunlaoghaire Shopping Centre.

Judge Francis Comerford was to have today delivered judgment on the legalities of George Davis’s news stand at the centre but adjourned his decision for further consideration until Friday.

A former employee of Mr Davis, now retired in Co Tipperary, recognized MacArthur when he bought a newspaper from one of Davis’s two news stands at the shopping centre in 1982.  He and Davis tipped off the gardaí that MacArthur was hiding somewhere in Dunlaoghaire.

Gardai, led by Detective Sergeant John O’Mahony, who later became head of the Criminal Assets Bureau and is currently an Assistant Commissioner, set a trap for the killer and eventually traced him to and arrested him in the home of the then Attorney General Paddy Connolly who passed away in January last year.

MacArthur later admitted the murder of 27-year-old nurse Bridie Gargan who had been sunbathing near her car in the Phoenix Park.  While on the run MacArthur three days later shot dead farmer Donal Dunne, in Edenderry, Offaly, while inspecting a shotgun he said he wished to buy from the farmer.

George Davis today said that as a result of the tip-off Detective O’Manony set up a garda hide-out van to look out for MacArthur.  He was traced to the home of the Attorney General who was on holiday in the US at the time and was recalled by Taoiseach Charles Haughey.  MacArthur was arrested on August 13, 1982.

He was released after 30 years imprisonment in September 2012.

George Davis, of Hadleigh, Ballybride Road, Rathmichael, Dublin, spent a day in the Circuit Civil Court last week resisting a bid by Dunlaoghaire Shopping Centre owners Coltard to have his mobile news stand banned from the entrance doors of the centre.

He has been selling newspapers around the shopping centre and other areas of Dunlaoghaire for almost 40 years.  Barrister Raymond Delahunt, who appeared with Baily Homan Smyth McVeigh solicitors, told the court Davis at best only had only a licence to sell papers that could be revoked at any time.

Coltard claimed it had received a complaint from a shopping centre tenant about Davis’s trolley-type news stand attracting third parties, including cigarette smokers, congregating around it and causing an obstruction and potential fire risk.

Barrister Mark O’Riordan, who appeared with Kenny Sullivan Solicitors, for Davis, claimed that in the late 70s during legal proceedings involving the previous owners of the centre, a compromise had been reached allowing Davis a life-long contract to sell papers at the entrance to the centre.

Coltard, which acquired the centre in 1998, plans a €10million redevelopment of the centre involving the creation of two large anchor stores fronting on to Marine Road and onto George’s Street.

Davis said today at the adjournment of Judge Comerford’s judgment’ that when news of his legal battle with the owners broke at the week-end it went viral on the internet and led to 30,000 emails from all over the world from former customers supporting him.  He said public protests were being planned by others. 

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