Rugby player was unintended victim, court told

Rugby player Shane Geoghegan was the unintended victim of a shooting that was meant for another man and was ordered by John Dundon, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Opening the trial, Tom O’Connell, prosecuting, told the court it was the prosecution case that Mr Geoghegan was the unintended victim of a shooting and the actual target was a man named John McNamara, who lived close by the deceased in the Limerick suburb of Clonmore.

Mr O’Connell said the court would hear from key prosecution witness April Collins, who would give evidence that Mr Dundon ordered another man, Barry Doyle, to kill Mr McNamara. He said Ms Collins would tell the court that she heard Mr Dundon give Doyle a description of Mr McNamara and say that “everything was prepared, the gun and the car”.

John Dundon, aged 30, with a last address at Hyde Rd, Limerick, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Geoghegan, aged 28, at Clonmore, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, Limerick, on Nov 9, 2008.

The non-jury court yesterday heard medical evidence that the head injuries suffered by Mr Dundon, which caused the adjournment of the scheduled opening of the trial on Tuesday, were “superficial” and the accused presented at Beaumont hospital in a “psychogenic coma”.

An application to have a new solicitor and barrister appointed for Mr Dundon, who yesterday informed the court he was illiterate in response to evidence that he had sacked his legal team and elected to represent himself, was also acceded to by the court.

Mr O’Connell said that on the night of the shooting, Mr Geoghegan was watching a rugby match between Ireland and Canada and was in the house of a friend who lived across a green area from the home he shared with his girlfriend Jenna Barry.

Ms Barry said she received a text message from Mr Geoghegan at 12.54am indicating that he would be home shortly. This, Mr O’Connell said, was the last she heard from her partner.

Shortly afterwards, Ms Barry heard shots and looked out to see a man in a navy hoodie run towards a car, which looked to her like a navy Spacewagon, and “hop in” through a sliding door.

Mr O’Connell said at the same time, other people in the estate heard shots and screaming and saw the getaway car leave the estate.

Gardaí were called at 1.06am and arrived to see a shattered window in another house in the estate. Mr O’Connell said that officers went to a passageway at the side of this house and found Mr Geoghegan lying dead on a patio doorstep.

He said that an autopsy showed that the deceased suffered five gunshot wounds and died from gunshot injuries to his head and trunk.

Mr O’Connell said that a gunshot wound to the right side of the back suggesting a bullet trajectory “steeping downwards”, meaning it could have been inflicted while Mr Geoghegan was bending or crouching down toward his attacker.

One of the bullets penetrated the skull, causing bruising and laceration of the brain and transgression of the brain stem.

The court would hear that, in the opinion of the state pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy, this was most likely the last injury sustained as the deceased would have been incapable of movement afterwards and would have collapsed and died in a short space of time, he said.

Mr O’Connell said that in the opinion of the pathologist, differing bullet trajectories confirmed the movement of one or both parties during the attack.

He said three bullets were recovered from Mr Geoghegan’s body, while a ballistics expert would give evidence that both discharged and undischarged cartridge cases found at the crime scene were once in the same 9mm semi-automatic pistol.

He said the court would hear evidence from Ms Collins, who at the time of the shooting was in a relationship with Gerard Dundon, a brother of the accused man, and had three children with him.

Ms Collins will tell the court that in her presence, John Dundon ordered Barry Doyle to kill John McNamara, who lived in the Clonmore estate. She heard John Dundon give Barry Doyle a description of John McNamara and say that “everything was prepared, the gun and the car”.

The witness will tell the court that early on the morning of the shooting, she and Gerard Dundon drove to a pub car park to meet Barry Doyle and John Dundon, who telephoned another man to say that “John Mac” was dead.

Mr O’Connell said Ms Collins would give evidence that when John Dundon received the information that another person had been killed, he got angry with Barry Doyle, who replied: “It is him, he’s big”.

Counsel said the court would also hear evidence from Lisa Collins, a sister of April Collins, and Christopher McCarthy, a first cousin of the accused man.

Lisa Collins will tell the trial that John Dundon was a frequent caller to her house, and that she heard him say to Barry Doyle on many occasions “we have to do him”, which was a reference to John McNamara, who had the nickname of “Pitchfork”.

Mr O’Connell said Lisa Collins would give evidence that John Dundon put pressure on her and Mr McCarthy to get him a car, and while she did not know why he wanted a car, she would tell the court the pair did steal a vehicle out of fear.

Lisa Collins will give evidence that she and Mr McCarthy stole what she described as a “big blue car” with the assistance of another man and later presented it to John Dundon.

Counsel said Lisa Collins would tell the court that at about 3am on the day of the shooting, John Dundon called to her house and said to Mr McCarthy that “John Mc” was dead. The accused man was laughing at the time.

When Lisa Collins later saw the image of a car featured in an episode of the Crimecall television programme, she “felt sick” as she realised the car she had stolen was the one used to carry out the shooting of Mr Geoghegan.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said the trial would adjourn and resume on Monday next.

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