A Dublin man who accidentally shot dead a father-of-two who intervened in a confrontation between two gangs was jailed for 12 years at the Central Criminal Court.
Robert Egan shot dead Wayne Doherty in a “criminal and dangerous manslaughter,” according to Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy.
Egan (aged 27) of Dromheath Avenue, Mulhuddart, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Doherty at Oakview Way, Hartstown, on July 5, 2009 but pleaded guilty on Day 3 of the trial to the manslaughter of the 32-year-old.
He had also pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of a shotgun at the same address on July 4, 2009 which he was given a five-year sentence to run concurrently.
Suspending the final three years of the sentence, Mr Justice McCarthy said “it is clear that the original source of the confrontation was not one which the defendant was directly involved in."
“He was not a victim of assault or abuse to give rise to anger or respond in a violent way. He was a supporter and engaged himself in a matter which was not primilarly concerning him and this is a more serious situation.
“The ante was upped as the defendant brought a loaded firearm to the scene and he said he brought it for the purpose of shooting an opposing gang member in the legs. It was accepted by the prosecution that the defendant did not have the intention to kill or cause serious harm to the deceased.”
“Accidents don't happen, they are caused,” said Mr Justice McCarthy.
“The deceased acted lawfully and this is not in dispute. Mr Doherty told the defendant to go home but in the course of the struggle to get the firearm off the defendant two shots were discharged and the second shot hit Mr Doherty.”
“I do not think it can be exaggerated that Mr Doherty's family has suffered and continues to suffer,” he added.
Egan's defence counsel requested that he not serve his sentence in Mountjoy prison for fears for his safety.
Mr Doherty, a bread delivery man, was shot outside his parents' home after he attempted to stop a dispute involving his friends and a group of men late on the night of July 4, 2009.
Mr Doherty's widow Karen (aged 31) said after the sentence was handed down that “no-one should be made suffer” what her family is suffering with the loss of Wayne.
“That tragic night we lost a father, son, brother and uncle,” said Mrs Doherty.
“The grief and pain will always be with us. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Earlier this week, Detective Sergeant Dan O'Callaghan told Mr Paul Coffey SC, prosecuting, that a christening had taken place earlier in the day at a public house in Clonee.
Andrew Jameson, a friend of Egan's and Robert Hughes, a neighbour of the deceased were involved in a minor altercation at the christening. The altercation continued outside the public house where Jameson had gotten into a car driven by Egan and threw a pint glass at Mr Hughes.
Various phone calls were made by Mr Hughes to Mr Jameson demanding “a straightener” at Oakview way that evening to resolve the dispute and “each side marshalled their forces” according to Det Callaghan.
Mr Hughes arrived at the scene with his friend Eric O’Callaghan, the deceased man Wayne Doherty and the deceased’s brother David Doherty.
Egan, who has 10 previous convictions, arrived in a silver Volkswagen Passat and approached the group carrying a loaded sawn-off shotgun while a group of men followed from behind.
Egan had told gardai during interviews that he had arrived at the scene with the loaded gun with the intention of “shooting Hughes in the leg.”
Witnesses told gardai that Mr Doherty had approached Egan and shouted at him to “go home” and pleaded with him to put the gun away. Mr Doherty sought to wrestle the gun from Egan and in doing so two shots were discharged accidentally.
One of the bullets passed over Mr Doherty's head while the second bullet hit Mr Doherty on the side of the chest and caused multiple injuries to his abdomen and left flank.
Egan fled the scene and a friend of Mr Doherty's called an ambulance at 11:27pm.
Despite attempted by surgeons to save his life, Mr Doherty died at James Connolly Memorial Hosptial at 5:37am on the morning of July 5.
Det O'Callaghan said Egan then fled to Belfast where he managed to get a flight to Turkey using a false passport and false birth certificate.
He had contacted gardai on May 8, 2010 to indicate he wanted to come home to “face charges” and was met by gardaí at Dublin Airport where he was arrested and interviewed over the death of Mr Doherty.
Mr Michael O'Higgins, BL, defending said Egan's brother Jason had been shot seven times in the back and killed by the IRA which gardaí believe was in direct retaliation for the death of Mr Doherty.
“The defendant indirectly blames himself for the death of his brother as if he hadn't done what he did to Mr Doherty then these events wouldn't have happened and he has to carry the burden for this,” said Mr O'Higgins.