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'Hitman was hired to kill victim I drove into the wood'

A 27-YEAR-OLD accused of murdering a man in Co Wicklow three years ago told gardai he drove the victim to where he was killed but did not witness the shooting.

Michael Dickenson, of no fixed abode, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Steven O' Meara at Ballydonnell Wood, Red Cross, Co Wicklow on or about August 6, 2009.

Mr O'Meara (26) a father-of-three from Rosehill in Wicklow town, was last seen on that date.


His body was found by gardai five months later, on Christmas Eve, in an isolated wooded area at Ballydonnell, Red Cross.

It is the prosecution's case that Dickenson drove Mr O'Meara out to the remote Ballydonnell Woods, where he was shot by another man, who then helped the accused drag the body into a very shallow grave.

The court has previously heard evidence Mr O'Meara was asked to collect a debt of ¤15,000 from the accused's brother, Paddy Byrne, which was owed to drug dealers in Dublin and that he was to be paid ¤2,000for doing so.

Yesterday, the court heard memos of garda interviews in which the accused denied shooting Mr O' Meara but said he drove him to the woods.

"I did not have anything to do with it, the only thing I had to do with it was I was asked to drive him," Dickenson told gardai on December 23, 2009.

He told gardai in that interview that another person paid to have Mr O' Meara shot and he said the amount was "€6,000 or something like that".

He also told gardai he did not witness the shooting of Mr O'Meara but said he heard about it 15 or 20 minutes later.

He said he was asked to collect Mr O' Meara and bring him there but he did not believe he was going to be shot, saying "I just thought they were going to frighten him."

He told them he received no money for driving Mr O'Meara and did it "out of stupidity".

He said he was "not in a position" to say who the people he thought were going to frighten Mr O'Meara were but said it had been organised to clear his brother's drugs debt.

He told gardai he fled to England because he was in fear of his life but came home to see his three children at Christmas.

The trial continues.