Limerick solicitor John Devane found dead at home; post mortem due today

Limerick solicitor John Devane found dead at home; post mortem due today

By David Raleigh

A post mortem is expected to be carried out today on the body of well-known Limerick criminal defence solicitor John Devane.

Mr Devane, (55), a father of two, from Janesboro, Limerick, was found dead at his home yesterday, around midday.

Gardaí said they do not suspect foul play and that a post mortem was normal procedure following a sudden death.

Limerick District Court will be adjourned briefly this morning to hear tributes from Mr Devane's colleagues.

Mr Devane, a controversial figure, had been one of the country's top earning solicitors through the criminal legal aid scheme. His clients varied from shoplifters to some of the most feared gangland criminals. He had represented all sides in the murderous Limerick feud.

Mr Devane had been battling ill-health in recent years and was using a wheelchair and crutches in the months prior to his sudden death. He returned to work last year following a 12-month hiatus after recovering from surgery, but continued to struggle with his health.

In 2012, Devane was found guilty of assaulting rival solicitor John Herbert during an altercation, at Limerick District Court on June 9, 2011. Devane denied grabbing Mr Herbert by the neck and attempting to head butt him.

However Devane, with a practice at Quinlan Street, Limerick, escaped a criminal conviction after paying a €1,000 donation to charity.

In 2008, he offered to mediate between rival criminal factions in an effort to bring peace to the streets of the Treaty City.

In the same year, he published the first of three planned books. He revealed in Nobody Heard Me Cry, he had been a victim of a Limerick paedophile ring, involving members of the gardaí; the judiciary; and the clergy.

As a mature student he graduated in Law from UCC and went on to become one of the country's highest paid solicitors.

He represented 450 soldiers in a suit against the State in the army deafness damages claims, and 800 prisoners who were forced to slop out from their own jail cells.

Devane unsuccessfully ran as an independent candidate in the 2007 general election in the Limerick East constituency.

During the political campaign trail when then Fianna Fáil Taoiseach Bertie Ahern visited the Jetland Shopping Centre, in Limerick, Devane confronted him in front of a crowd demanding Ahern "tell the truth about his personal finances".

During the publicity stunt, Devane had planned to produce a €5 plastic sword he had purchased from a local shop and ask Ahern to "fall on it", however gardaí seized it moments beforehand.

The pair met again in more colourful controversial circumstances when Devane served Ahern with a subpoena to appear as a witness in the case of two anti-war protestors charged with criminal damage and trespass at Shannon Airport.

Paying tribute to Devane, fellow solicitor, Sarah Ryan, said: "John was John, and there was never a dull moment when he was around. I'm sure he won't be annoyed if we smile when we think about him."

Further tributes are expected to be paid by colleagues and members of the judiciary at Limerick District Court, Monday morning.

Brian O'Connor, a cousin of Mr Devane's, added: "John was an immense character, and a fiercely determined advocate of the underdog with whom he identified."

"He was a very loving and giving family man. We were all very proud of him," he added.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.


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