Sunday 15 December 2019

Gangsters' molls may hold key to murders

Gardai plan to break 'code of silence' to unlock unsolved crimes

Wayne Dundon. Photo: Courtpix
Wayne Dundon. Photo: Courtpix
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The "peripheral players" eventually brought them down, and now the garda team which secured life sentences for crime brothers Wayne and John Dundon plans to shake down their former foot-soldiers in a bid to unlock a series of unsolved murders.

With the gang leaders put away for life, detectives will be returning to their getaway drivers, the girlfriends, the couriers, dealers and runners, hoping they will now break the code of silence that protected the McCarthy-Dundon gang for years.

Wayne Dundon received a life sentence last week for murdering Roy Collins in 2009. John Dundon was jailed for life last year for murdering rugby player Shane Geoghegan, an innocent man shot dead in a case of mistaken identity.

Detectives believe the McCarthy-Dundon gang is responsible for a string of chilling murders and serious crimes. They include the torture and murder of Campbell McNamara in 2003. He was stabbed 10 times, and shot in the pelvis and in the head.

John Dundon is also suspected of organising the brutal execution of a Latvian mother-of-two, Baiba Saulite, in 2006 as a favour to her Lebanese husband, convicted criminal Hassan Hassan.

The gang imploded after some of the most trusted people in their inner circle, including girlfriends and relatives, delivered them up to gardai. April Collins, the former girlfriend of Ger Dundon, was the first to break the code of silence. After breaking up with Ger Dundon, she reported his brothers to police after she and her family were threatened.

Her sister, Lisa, and her mother, Alice, have also testified against the Dundons, as did her brother, Gareth Collins, who admitted that he was offered €20,000 to drive the getaway car for the "hit" on Steve Collins, Roy Collins's father and the intended target.

Key members of the McCarthy family - first cousins of the Dundons - followed their lead. Lisa Collins's boyfriend, Christopher McCarthy, gave crucial information on the murder of Shane Geoghegan. McCarthy's brother, Anthony 'Noddy' McCarthy, who is in jail for a gangland murder, told gardai how Wayne Dundon organised the murder of Roy Collins from his prison cell.

A boyfriend of the Dundons' younger sister, Annabel, also ratted on the gang, implicating John Dundon in Baiba Saulite's murder in 2006. Joe Hehir told detectives how John Dundon arranged for a map of where she lived in Dublin to be delivered to him, and he in turn delivered it to her assassin. Hehir died suddenly in 2011 before his testimony could be used in court. Dundon has been questioned about Baiba's murder. But detectives are expected to review the unsolved murder in the hope that the life sentences currently being served by both brothers will encourage former gang members to talk.

Dundon is also suspected of issuing death threats against her solicitor, John Hennessy, who acted for Baiba after Hassan abducted their two children. Hassan was later jailed for car theft. He was waiting to be sentenced for child abduction when she was murdered. He has since been released and is believed to be in Syria.

Mr Hennessy is one of the few survivors of death threats organised by the Dundons.

His home was firebombed a month before Baiba was murdered, and he was told that his life was in serious danger. Gardai kept an eye on him in what they termed "passing protection". But his client, Baiba Saulite, had none, although she had been receiving regular threatening calls and text messages. She was murdered by a lone gunman on a Sunday evening, standing on her doorstep smoking a cigarette with a friend, her children asleep upstairs.

Mr Hennessy said he was working late in his office in Swords when he got the news that she had been murdered. He told the Sunday Independent this weekend: "It was about nine or ten at night. They [the gardai] rang me...They came around to me straight away. There was a panic. They said we've instructions to get you out of here, out of the office, out of town. I went to a hotel in Drogheda. There were Emergency Response Unit guys with machine-guns outside the bedroom. I didn't know what was going on. I had a briefing in the morning when they asked me to leave the country, as a favour, which I did."

He stayed out of the country for three or four weeks. He remained under 24-hour Garda protection for five years, until he "begged" for it to be lifted in 2011.

The experience has had a lasting effect on him, and he never feels out of danger.

"There is not a day goes by, and there never will be a day that goes by, when I don't think about getting shot. There is not a time I don't get into the car without thinking about looking in the mirror, checking to see if another car is behind me. That's the reality, it's like an injury."

As a solicitor, he publicly supported new legislation targeting criminal gangs which many of his legal colleagues petitioned against, and stood unsuccessfully in the local elections for Fianna Fail because he felt he had a contribution to make on the issue of crime.

"The McCarthy-Dundons are one of the most dangerous gangs ever in this State, and they have been taken apart by the bravery of Stephen Collins and his family, and by the hard work of Limerick gardai," he added.

"Let's not sit on our laurels. When the cocaine industry gets prevalent again, and idiots start spending €100 on a Saturday for cocaine, feeding the cocaine-industry frenzy, they will all start killing each other, start getting cocky again, and that's when I worry about it getting out of control. Never, ever, ever let it get out of control again."

Sunday Independent

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