Pregnant woman took on feared criminal family

It was a case where we saw a 24-year-old pregnant woman, acting as a key prosecution witness, take on the notorious Limerick criminal family, the Dundons.

April Collins had been in a relationship for eight years with one of the Dundon brothers, Ger.

The couple had three children together but in Oct 2010, April Collins ended the relationship and stopped bringing the children to visit their father in prison.

It was then that a vicious feud between the former couple began but the Special Criminal Court was also told how the “catalyst” for the alleged threats against April and her family was a fight between April’s brother Gareth Collins and Nathan Killeen in Limerick Prison on Sept 30, 2010. Nathan Killeen’s sister is married to John Dundon.

Twenty months later, John Dundon stood in court pleading not guilty to threatening to kill April and her mother, Alice Collins on the weekend of Apr 3 and 4, 2011.

His older brother Wayne, meanwhile, was pleading not guilty to five counts relating to threatening to kill Alice Collins and her children Gareth, Jimmy and April, as well as two counts of obstructing the course of justice between Sept 2010 and Mar 2011.

The Dundons’ loathing of April Collins was apparent in the evidence. The court was told how the mother-of-three was described by John Dundon in a Garda interview as being a “prostitute” and “crackhead” who had a “vendetta” against him. She was also a “fruitcake” who had made “false” and “comical” allegations against him.

John Dundon told gardaí that he would not let his brother Ger “get back with” April Collins and that she had a vendetta against him because of this.

He alleged that he had once caught April Collins smoking crack in England in 2009 and told detectives that she was a “crackhead” and an “unstable” person who had been charged with making threats herself.

The court heard how Dundon made the allegations in one of five interviews with detectives.

Gerard Dundon isn’t the only convicted criminal that April Collins has had relationships with.

A Garda surveillance report recorded her in “a loving embrace” with a Thomas O’Neill in Apr 2011. He was leader of a group of men convicted for a “horrific” gang rape in Cratloe Woods, Co Clare, in 2004.

When John Dundon’s barrister put it to her that Ger Dundon was “very anxious” about his young children living under the same roof as a known violent sex offender, Ms Collins replied that Thomas O’Neill was not a paedophile and had “made a mistake” when he was a teenager.

She agreed with Mr McCartney she was pregnant with O’Neill’s child and denied ever describing him as dangerous and someone she would not have a relationship with.

The court was also told how April’s mother, Alice, was told by Wayne Dundon that she was digging her own grave and it was “very easy to make people disappear”.

On Sep 2010, according to Alice Collins, Wayne Dundon walked into her sitting room after 8pm when he found her front door ajar as she’d been washing floors.

Described as being “in an agitated state” by April, he said he would “hunt people down” if his wife Ciara went to jail.

First Wayne asked Alice Collins if her son, Jimmy, went to a certain pub every weekend.

Then, the court was told, he added that his brother, John Dundon would give “some fool” €10,000 to kill Jimmy. Next, the court heard, Wayne told the woman that his face would be the last face her other son Gareth would see as he was “going to kill him myself”.

As he left the house, the court was told, Wayne Dundon then told her she was digging her own grave and it was “very easy to make people disappear”.

Alice Collins agreed with Padraig Dwyer, defending Wayne Dundon, that she had made a statement to gardaí on Sep 30 in relation to the attack on her house earlier that day.

She agreed she kept a note of the timings of the alleged threats made by Wayne Dundon on the back of an envelope but told the court she may have confused what day of the week they actually occurred.

She agreed that a reference to the alleged threats occurring at 8pm on Sept 30 was correct to within a few minutes and said she could see no reason for the time to be wrong unless the watch or phone used to mark the time was also inaccurate.

When told of Garda records that showed the recording of her statement did not finish until 9.07pm on Sept 30, about an hour after she alleged Wayne Dundon had made the threats, she said she may have got the timing of the incident wrong.

She denied a suggestion that she was telling a “pack of lies” and said that although she may have got the timings wrong, she was not wrong in her evidence that Wayne Dundon had come to her house that night and threatened her.

She denied that she had made the allegations to ensure Wayne Dundon was “off the scene” for a substantial period, telling Mr Dwyer that if the court convicted the accused man, she “might stay alive a bit longer”.

She said she waited seven months after the alleged threats to make a statement against him because she was in fear for her life, telling Mr Dwyer: “You don’t make a statement against him and survive it.”

When her daughter, April, was asked why she never complained to her ex-partner Ger Dundon about Wayne Dundon making threats against her mother, Ms Collins replied: “No, that’s his brother at the end of the day, if I told him what Wayne said he would have told Wayne and Wayne would have come over to my house and beat me up.”

During the evidence, April Collins also told Tom O’Connell, prosecuting, that she was at her Hyde Road home on Mar 25 last year when Wayne Dundon asked if he could come in.

Wayne demanded an explanation as to why she was not letting her children visit their father, Ger Dundon in prison.

She said Dundon began shouting: “If anything happens to my brother over you, I will kill you first.”

Then on Apr 3 last year after John Dundon was released from Portlaoise Prison, she said that John had come to her house. She had been watching television at the time and saw him through the glass section of the door.

He began “bating” down the door yelling: “I know you’re in there, you tramp, I want to see my nephews; when I get you, I am going to fucking kill you.”

April told the court how she went to bed later that night but awoke at 2am to find John Dundon standing on a shed in her back yard, while another man stood in the garden.

Ms Collins said that when she asked John Dundon what he was doing there, he replied: “We’re looking for a good place to bury your mother.”

John Dundon rubbished Collins’ claims saying he spent the night he was released drinking at home with family and friends before getting up the next day to go to the gym with his brother Wayne.

Anyway, he claimed, it would not be possible to identify anyone through her front door as the glass panels were smoked or “hazy”.

Later in the trial, under cross-examination by Brian McCartney, defending John Dundon, it was put to Garda James Hourihan that April Collins had been afforded special status by gardaí and that he had become her “protector” after she made these allegations against John Dundon in April last year.

Garda Hourihan denied this. He told Mr McCartney his contact with the Collins family had absolutely no bearing on the outcome of a case against April Collins. Two months later, she was given a three-year suspended sentence for witness intimidation.

In his closing speech to the non-jury court, Mr O’Connell said both Alice and April Collins were truthful, credible and reliable witnesses and asked the court to convict the accused men on all charges on the indictment.

Mr McCartney told the court that the evidence against his client John Dundon was “not just weak but dangerous” and he urged the court to find his client not guilty.

Mr Dwyer said there was a general atmosphere of hostility between the Dundon and Collins families and asked the court to bear in mind that the evidence against his client was “utterly corroborated”.

In a written judgment, Mr Justice Paul Butler said the court found the evidence was such that a jury, properly charged, could deal with each of the counts on the indictment.

Wayne’s CV

* Wayne Dundon: The man jailed for six years, has 43 previous convictions, eight of which are in England, according to Chief Superintendent David Sheahan, of Henry St, Limerick.

He said he was convicted at Limerick Circuit Court on May 13, 2005, of making a threat to kill. This related to a threat to Ryan Lee who was working in a pub in Limerick and refused admission to Dundon’s teenage sister.

He was also sentenced to seven years for threatening to kill and three years for assault following an incident when he launched a violent assault on detectives interviewing him at Henry St Garda Station on Dec 22, 2004.

He was also sentenced to two years for assault in Apr 2002 for an incident when he attacked a garda with a beer keg as the garda tried to arrest one of his brothers. The garda was injured and forced to retire.

Most of the other convictions related to road traffic offences.

Padraig Dwyer SC, for Dundon, told the court his family lived in England to avoid media attention.

John’s CV

* John Dundon: The man jailed for five-and-a-half years had 40 previous convictions, two of which were outside the jurisdiction.

Chief Superintendent David Sheahan, of Henry St, Limerick, said that most of the convictions were for road traffic offences.

He said that Dundon, who has two young children, was jailed for four years and six months by the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin on Jan 11, 2005, for making a threat to kill relating to an incident during a trial at the Central Criminal Court where five people were on trial for the murder of Kieran Keane.

He was also jailed for 20 months by the Limerick Circuit Court in Jan 2005 for threatening to damage property and this related to an incident where he threatened to burn down the house of a prison officer while he was in Limerick prison.

A car belonging to the officer was later burned out.

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