Wife of slain criminal may face perjury charges

THE wife of a murdered criminal, who was yesterday forced to testify at his inquest, more than six years after his death, could face perjury charges.

The Director of Public Prosecutions will consider the matter when he receives a report of the inquest into the death of Gerard Lee from gardaí.

Mr Lee, 31, was shot dead at a party at around 7am on March 9, 1996, at 66 Ferrycarrig Park, Coolock, north Dublin. He was celebrating a double birthday with his wife, Lynda Lee.

After fighting a six-year battle, involving five court appearances, Ms Lee was eventually compelled to give evidence yesterday to the Dublin City Coroner’s Court.

At the centre of the case are conflicting statements of what Ms Lee heard and saw on the night her husband was killed.

Ms Lee, 31, from Seabury Court, Malahide, said her husband was shot in the back garden and collapsed into her arms.

However, Gerard Kelly, who was also at the party, said a lone gunman shot Mr Lee in the garden and then pursued him into the house to the bottom of the stairs and shot him again.

None of the other witnesses saw the shooting but they said Mr Lee’s body was at the bottom of the stairs.

At yesterday’s inquest, Ms Lee strenuously denied she dictated and signed a statement presented to the court by investigating gardaí. She produced what she said was her real statement.

“I know nothing about that statement. That statement was dictated to me. It is not my signature.”

Questioned for an hour by Michael Cohen, counsel for Mr Lee’s brothers and sister, she said she did not know Detective Sergeant Cathal Cryan, who wrote up the statement on March 10, 1996 at Coolock Station.

The now-retired detective told the court Ms Lee dictated the statement to him and signed not only the end of the statement, but each page of it.

Det Sgt Cryan added that both Deirdre Lynch, a girlfriend of Ms Lee’s brother James McCormack, and Det Insp Pat Gallagher were present for much of the statement and that he thought they were both there when she signed it.

The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing by person unknown.

Mr Lee, who was shot twice, died from haemorrhage and shock due to a penetrating wound to the heart caused by a gun shot wound.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell called on the Government and the Oireachtas to strengthen the powers of coroners to compel witnesses to attend an inquest.

Gardaí know who killed Mr Lee, who was a convicted criminal and drug dealer, but have not been able to bring charges due to lack of evidence.

They have ruled out a gangland connection and the file remains open.

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