Shot dead as his children slept just yards away

GARDA cordon tape flapped in the wind yesterday, crossing through family driveways. Passersby, mothers with prams, stopped in silence as white-suited men stepped out of unmarked garda cars.

The scene of yet another bloody gun murder in a run-of-the-mill Dublin housing estate.

It was the fourth gun murder, so far, this year.

Yesterday’s atrocity leaves four young children, with the future prospect of only their father’s grave to visit.

There will be shock, though perhaps little sympathy, for John Berney, the Ballyfermot man shot dead in his bedroom.

Neighbours were unaware there was a low-level criminal living among them.

Charlie Smith, with the estate’s management company, said: “It’s [the killing] just horrendous. They’re young professional families living here, mostly working in the city. It’s very quiet, there’s never even been a break-in.”

The cold snap kept residents rushing in and out of their duplex homes. A woman drove up to gardaí, handing them two bunches of flowers.

Louise Dunne was Berney’s partner for five years. Distraught, she spoke at the scene yesterday with their daughter Jasmine.

The eight-year-old’s father was set to bring her to the Canary Islands today, for her birthday.

“He loved his kids. He was a bit hectic in his days but he’s quietened down. He wasn’t in trouble with anyone so it’s very strange,” said Ms Dunne.

She said he had been a gym instructor, studying a college course in construction.

“When he was younger, he was in trouble with the police. He was trying to get his life back together,” she said.

Mr Berney’s partner Karen was said to be traumatised after the shooting. She had three boys, Kelsey, 5, Tyler, 3, and John, 1, with Mr Berney. Both Tyler and John were in the house at the time..

Residents on the upmarket estate were yesterday shocked by the double shooting, which took place just yards from the local Mary Poppins crèche.

This murder, unlike so many others, holds some luck for gardaí after they recovered the suspect get-away vehicle as well as a gun. Furthermore, detectives have two witnesses. Karen, the deceased’s partner was in the bedroom when the attackers struck. Stephen Barry, the friend also in the house at the time, looks set to survive after being shot.

Figures this newspaper released yesterday showed just one sixth of gun murders over the past decade have resulted in convictions. Gardaí, like in the other three gun murders this year, will be keen to find Mr Berney’s killer, particularly someone so brazen as to kill a father in bed with his partner while yards away, his children slept.

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