Tragic baby death of chief State witness in Dundon murder trial
THE baby of the chief State witness who is expected to give evidence at the Shane Geoghegan murder trial has died after it was born prematurely.
The trial of John Dundon was adjourned at the Special Criminal Court a fortnight ago after it heard that witness April Collins – who has three children with the accused's brother Ger Dundon, had a medical problem. She also has a fourth child with her current partner Thomas O'Neill.
John Dundon, 30, with a last address at Hyde Road, Limerick, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Shane Geoghegan, 28, at Clonmore, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, Limerick on November 9, 2008.
Earlier this month Tom O'Connell SC, prosecuting, said Ms Collins was facing serious medical complications and had been hospitalised and was likely to remain so for the next two to three weeks.
The Sunday Independent has since learnt that Ms Collins, who had been pregnant, suffered the loss at the maternity hospital in Limerick. Her pregnancy had not gone full term.
The case had been listed for mention tomorrow but it is not yet known when it will begin hearing evidence.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns had said that if Ms Collins was in a posi- tion to give evidence, the trial could proceed on Tuesday.
The Sunday Independent has learnt that, despite her ordeal, Ms Collins is expected to attend court this week and is in a position to provide testimony.
At the last hearing, Mr O'Connell said the prosecution did not want to start the trial without an essential witness, and believed the court had the option to either hear the evidence from hospital via video link or adjourn the trial until October with a view to finishing the case early in the next court term.
However, defence counsel Mr Brendan Nix SC – who came on board for Mr Dundon only earlier this month after he sacked his previous legal team – said he was aware that Ms Collins had a natural medical complication, but he would be "most unhappy" to cross-examine the witness via video link as she was an experienced witness.
After several delays, the murder trial opened on July 3 before three judges.
Shane Geoghegan was shot five times. The non-jury court heard it was the State's case that Mr Geoghegan, a Garryowen rugby player, was the unintended victim of a shooting that was meant for another man – John McNamara, also known as 'Pitchfork' – which was ordered by John Dundon.
The court has heard that when Geoghegan was killed, Ms Collins – then aged 21 – was in a relationship with Ger Dundon, a brother of the accused man.
Mr O'Connell said the court would hear evidence from Ms Collins that she was present at the home of John Dundon and his partner Ciara Killeen on the night before the shooting. Also present were Ciara Killeen's brother Nathan Killeen, Liam Casey and Barry Doyle.
"In her presence, she will say, John Dundon ordered Barry Doyle to kill John McNamara," Mr O'Connell said. "She heard John Dundon give Barry Doyle a description of John McNamara."
Ms Collins would also testify that John Dundon ordered Nathan Killeen to drive the stolen car used.
On the night of the murder, Ms Collins and Ger Dundon stayed in the Hilton Hotel in Limerick.
The following morning she drove to Finnegan's car park in Annacotty, Co Limerick, where John Dundon learned via a phone call with Philip Collopy that John McNamara was not dead.
Mr O'Connell said the trial would also hear from two other witnesses who were central to the prosecution case.
Lisa Collins, a sister of April Collins, and Christopher McCarthy, a first cousin of the accused man, will give evidence that a number of weeks before the killing they were put under pressure by John Dundon to steal a car that gardai believe was used in the shooting.