Wednesday 22 November 2017

Man begins life term for 'driving victim to death'

Niamh O'Donoghue

A 27-year-old man was last night beginning a life sentence for the murder of a father-of-three in Co Wicklow three years ago.

Michael Dickenson of no fixed abode, but formerly Darragh Park, Wicklow town, had denied murdering Steven O'Meara (26) at Ballydonnell Wood, Red Cross, Co. Wicklow, in August 2009.

Mr O'Meara, from Rosehill in Wicklow town, was last seen on August 6, 2009, and his body was found by garda in a shallow grave in the woods on Christmas Eve, nearly five months later.

Yesterday a Central Criminal Court jury of seven men and five women found Dickenson guilty of murder by majority verdict after almost six hours of deliberation.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy imposed a mandatory life sentence and backdated it to December 2009 to take account of time spent in custody.

It was the prosecution's case that Dickenson was part of a joint enterprise or common design to murder Mr O Meara. After driving him out to the remote Ballydonnell Woods, where he was shot by another man, Dickenson helped drag the body into a shallow grave.

Dickenson gave evidence during the trial, telling the court his brother had a drug debt of €15,000 and that Mr O'Meara was trying to collect it from him.

He admitted driving the victim to the woods and witnessing the murder but insisted he did not know that Mr OMeara was going to be shot and was scared if he said anything, he too would be shot.

He told gardai in an interview that two men were waiting for them there to organise the repayment of that debt.

Dickenson told gardai where the body was buried and claimed he found out after fleeing to England that these men had been paid €6,000 by another person to carry out the killing.

Irish Independent

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