Music can’t drown out life sentence for murder

No matter how loud he turned the music up on his walkman, no matter no hard he pressed the headphones against his ears, John Dundon could not drown out the reality facing him in Court 11.

The notorious Limerick crime boss was given a life sentence yesterday for the murder of Shane Geoghegan, mistakenly gunned down as he walked home to his girlfriend’s house in the city almost five years ago.

There was silence in the packed Special Criminal Court as Dundon was brought into the defendant’s area by prison officers, flanked nearby and throughout the court by special branch detectives. Wearing a black track-suit with a blue and light-grey striped top, Dundon strode casually to his bench.

As the three judges of the non-jury court entered, the 30-year-old put headphones over his ears and listened to a CD walkman. The muffled hip hop could be heard as Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns read out the final 24 pages of the 88-page judgment. Dundon nodded to the music as the judge began to lay out the court’s observations.

Dundon did not seem to be aware of what Mr Justice Kearns had to say: About how gangland rules of “silence in all circumstances” usually prevailed in the aftermath of a serious crime, posing serious difficulties for Garda investigations; or about the “breakthrough” in the Garda investigation, when April Collins broke up with Ger Dundon, John’s brother, in March or April of 2011.

When Mr Justice Kearns started on analysis of the evidence, it quickly became clear that the court was believing the evidence of the main prosecution witnesses: April Collins; her sister, Lisa Collins, who was in a long-term relationship with the third main witness, Christopher McCarthy, a first cousin of John Dundon.

Mr Justice Kearns started to say that there was independent corroborative evidence, often CCTV, to back up the testimony of the witnesses. By this stage Dundon was leaning full forward, the crown of his tightly shaved head visible, his fingers pressing his phones in. Even if he could not hear it, he must have been able to sense the mood of the court.

When Mr Justice Kearns recounted April Collins’s evidence of how Dundon “panicked, became angry” when he realised Barry Doyle, convicted of the murder last year, had shot the wrong man, the noise from Dundon’s headphones seemed to get louder. Dundon now and again glanced around the room and flexed the muscles in his neck as the judge said the break-up of April Collins’s relationship with Ger Dundon “freed her from the bonds of silence and secrecy”. He kept a composed look as examples of the court’s belief in the credibility and truthfulness of the witnesses stacked up.

There was no discernible reaction as Mr Justice Kearns made his conclusions and said the evidence “over-whelmingly” pointed to the accused’s guilt, although there was a sighting of him making a hand gesture behind the bench.

Tom O’Connell, prosecuting, rose to say the Geoghegan family — represented in the court by his mother Mary, brother Anthony, uncle Tony, and girlfriend Jenna Barry — did not wish to make a victim impact statement.

He said Mr Geoghegan’s mother had simply wanted to say: “The facts of the case speak for itself.”

Brendan Nix, for Dundon, said his client “deeply regretted” how Mr Geoghegan lost his life but insisted he had “no hand, act, or part” in it.

As Mr Justice Kearns handed down a life sentence. Dundon, for the first time, sat up straight, took his headphones off, pulled a face, and smiled.

Mr Nix applied for leave to appeal, which was refused, but was told free legal aid would be granted in the event of one.

Dundon put his headphones on and did not rise as the judges left the court. Only afterwards did he get up, continuing to listen to his music.

He will have at least 17 more years to build up his collection.

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