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Brutal killing of best pal over a drug debt

A 31-YEAR-OLD Dublin man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing his life-long friend over a drugs debt almost six and a half years ago.

Aidan Finnegan, of Whitestown Avenue, Hartstown, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 24-year-old Dara McCormack on February 11, 2006.

Mr McCormack was shot in the back with a shotgun at Whitestown, Blanchardstown and died in the arms of his father Thomas.

Thomas McCormack told the court that his son named one of his best friends as his attacker as he died.

He said he had knelt by his son when he found him injured and bleeding on the ground near their Blanchardstown home, and asked him, "Who shot you?"

Mr McCormack said Dara was struggling for breath as he replied "Aidan, Aidan, Da."

Mr McCormack asked, "Aidan Finnegan f****** shot you?" and his son said, "Yes Da, Aidan."

Detective Sergeant Michael Kennedy said a number of residents of Whitestown park described how they ran outside their homes after hearing a loud bang on February 11, 2006.

He said one witness described two men dressed in black standing beside Dara, who said "please don't shoot".

In April, Finnegan pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to the manslaughter of Mr McCormack.

Detective Sergeant Michael Kennedy told the court that a garda investigation led detectives to believe that Finnegan and another man had been looking for money from Dara McCormack as payment for drugs.

The court heard that Dara's sister Tammy McCormack had received a text message from her brother asking if she had €200 to lend.

He agreed that an analysis of Dara McCormack's phone recovered a text message demanding money from a number which was linked to Finnegan.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Paul Carney said Finnegan had been "a bosom and lifelong friend" of the victim, but that this had not prevented him from taking part in a "vicious attack over a squalid drug debt".

Speaking outside the court, the victim's eldest sister Tammy said she would never forgive Aidan Finnegan for taking her brother's life and causing her family so much anguish.

"To completely articulate the impact that Dara's death has had on our lives is truly overwhelming and impossible," said Ms McCormack.

She said a twelve-year sentence was surely too lenient for Aidan Finnegan's "callous and pre-meditated attack" on her brother.