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Family tells of delight as killer locked up for 20 years

LOUD cheering greeted the 20-year sentence handed down to Melanie McCarthy-McNamara's killer yesterday.

The teenager's family couldn't contain their delight as Keith Hall was told that no part of the jail term would be suspended.

Dressed in pink and white T-shirts with Melanie's face on the front, her friends and relatives pointed to the word 'Justice' on the signs outside the Criminal Courts of Justice.

The 16-year-old's granny, Frances McNamara, said she was over the moon.

"I just couldn't take my eyes off of him, that he was sitting right next to me and that he took our child's life away from us, a beautiful little girl," said Ms McNamara.

"Eighteen months I'm sitting at that child's grave because I pray to the almighty God that he'll take me with her. Nothing will bring her back but I felt we got justice for her today and I prayed so hard that she would make us get it and she did," she added.

Melanie was shot while sitting in a car at Brookview Way, Tallaght, in February 2012.

The court heard that dad-of-one Hall was a self-confessed heroin addict with 111 previous convictions dating back to when he was 14, including drugs, theft, burglary and road traffic offences.

In a victim impact statement read to the court on a behalf of the family, Ms McCarthy-McNamara's godmother, Jennifer Roche, said she loved life but never had a chance to live it.


"If the person in front of us has a heart he will tell us why he took our princess away from us," she said.

Speaking outside court, she said she was pleased with the sentence handed down to Hall for manslaughter.

"It's the best news I've got in my whole entire life. I'm delighted that Judge Carney gave him 20 years, I'm going to celebrate for the week," she said.

"If he got life he'd only do 15 whereas now we know he is doing longer," she added.

"Melanie was perfect to us in every way. She would never say no to nobody. I became Melanie's godmother at the age of 12, she made me the proudest teenager ever."

Ms Roche spoke of how she felt shattered after hearing the news of the killing. "It was like my world shattered, I'll never get over it," she said.

Detective Superintendent Brian Sutton told the court that Ms McCarthy-McNamara was sitting in a Nissan Primera with her boyfriend Christy Moran and his friend in Brookview Way at around 10.32pm on February 7.

A black Santa Fe jeep pulled up and a sawn-off shotgun was discharged into the rear passenger seat of the Primera, the court heard.

Melanie was shot in the head and was driven in the car to Tallaght Hospital but died of her injuries at 1.15am the next morning.

The court heard the Santa Fe had been stolen in Rathgar and had licence plates taken from the same type of vehicle. The shotgun had been stolen a year earlier in Kildare but its owner said it had not been sawn-off when it was taken. The jeep was later found at a bus terminus in City West.

Hall told gardai that Ms McCarthy-McNamara's boyfriend and another man were the intended victims of the attack. He said his role was to throw a rock at the window of the house to lure the occupants out of it and he helped dispose of the gun when the Santa Fe ran out of petrol at City West.

Hall told gardai his motive was that he had been assaulted a week before the incident.

Gardai arrested Hall a week later after he was caught on CCTV in the jeep in City West. Det Supt Sutton said he was interviewed 21 times and made admissions but he told Ms Caroline Biggs, defending, that he did not give a full account until the end.

"He told us the truth but he drip-fed us," he said.

Ms Biggs said that her client was heavily intoxicated at the time of the incident after taking diazepam, crack, cocaine and cannabis.

Dr Khalid Jabbar, who conducted the post mortem, said the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.

Mr Justice Carney said the use of drink, drugs or a dysfunctional background provided little or no mitigation.

The judge took account of his plea of guilty, his dysfunctional background and that he showed remorse.

He said that it was not the court's practice to hand out compliments but the investigation of this outrage was spectacular and that he had reported his remarks to the Garda Commissioner.

"One learns a new feature of criminality every day. If a stone comes through your window it is probably to draw you to the line of fire," said the judge.