He fled Limerick after the murder of rugby fan Shane Geoghegan last November and returned to the city recently.
Roy Collins, son of a leading Limerick publican, Stephen Collins, is suspected of being targeted in a revenge killing, because a cousin of his, Ryan Lee, gave evidence at a trial after being shot in one of the family’s pubs five years ago while working as a barman.
Roy Collins, 35, a father of two young girls, was at work in his father’s Coincastle amusement arcade in Roxboro Shopping centre yesterday at around 12.05pm when a gunman walked in and shot him with a handgun.
The arcade and the adjoining Steering Wheel pub are owned by Stephen Collins, who runs a number of other pubs in the city.
Two men, one a teenager and the other in his early 20s, were arrested a short time later in Ballinacurra Weston and a Black Mercedes used in the shooting was found partially burned out in Rosbrien.
The Roxboro Shopping Centre is about 80 metres from Roxboro Road Garda Station.
It is believed that Mr Collins was still alive at the scene and was able to give gardaí information before he was removed by ambulance. He was pronounced dead at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital.
Supt Ann Marie McMahon who is heading the investigation said: “We have made significant progress even at this stage.”
While they are keeping an open mind, she said one line of enquiry centred on a gangland involvement. However, Mr Collins had no gang connection.
Senior Garda sources last night said the McCarthy-Dundon gang are the primary suspects and say it may have been a revenge attack on the Collins family over evidence given in a court case by barman, Ryan Lee which led to the jailing of a key gang figure, Wayne Dundon, in 2005.
Roy Collins was brought up with his cousin Ryan Lee, 23, who was shot and badly wounded in one of the family-owned pubs, Brannigans, in Mulgrave Street in December 2004.
That shooting happened a short time after Ryan Lee refused entry to the 14-year-old sister of gang leader, Wayne Dundon.
Dundon, who was described as one of Limerick’s most violent criminals in court, approached and threatened Ryan Lee, who was doing security at the pub door. A short time later a gunman wearing a motorbike helmet walked into the bar, singled out Ryan Lee and shot him.
While nobody has been charged with the shooting in Brannigan’s, Wayne Dundon was jailed for 10 years when found guilty of threatening to kill Ryan Lee, who was the prosecution’s main witness. The court was told that members of the Collins family would have to be given Garda protection, arising out of the case, and the girlfriend of one of the Collins’ family had received a serious threat prior to the trial.
Brannigans pub was burned down some months later in an arson attack.
Wayne Dundon, who is still in prison, is due out in August 2010 after the Court of Criminal Appeal reduced his sentence to seven years on appeal.
Roy Collins lived in Killaloe and his former partner, Sarah Sulliman had two daughters Shannon 12 and Charlie 8, who live in Limerick city with their mother.
Brian Fitzgerald was shot dead by the McCarthy-Dundon gang in November 2002 because he refused to give into their threats and allow them sell drugs in the Limerick nightclub where he was head of security.
Mayor John Gilligan condemned the murder of Mr Collins saying: “These people have stepped outside the bounds of humanity behaving like wild animals, killing anyone who gets in their way. They will have to be removed from society.”
Former mayor Ger Fahy, who represents the Roxboro area, said the whole community sympathised with the Collins family who were well known for their involvement in the business community for many years.