April Collins hears fate of partner in court

One of the country’s most under-threat women sat in a Limerick court and heard that her partner, a notorious rapist, was now a changed man since meeting her and having a child with her.

April Collins hears fate of partner in court

April Collins, 25, is under 24-hour armed Garda protection since her evidence helped convict John Dundon for the murder of rugby player Shane Geoghegan.

Ms Collins broke away from the McCarthy-Dundon gang family to live with notorious rapist Thomas O’Neill. She had three children with Ger Dundon, her former partner, and a fourth with O’Neill.

Ms Collins was in court again yesterday, this time to witness the fortunes of O’Neill, 25, who was up for sentence at Limerick Circuit Court.

O’Neill, with addresses at Murroe and Prospect, along with Michael Hayes, aged 34, of Kennedy Park, Limerick, pleaded guilty to robbing a man of a mobile phone and falsely imprisoning him on the night of Mar 30, 2013.

Thomas O’Neill

The court heard the false imprisonment charge arose from the robbery incident.

The men held their victim up against a wall in a laneway in the city centre and robbed him of his phone before running off. They were chased by Garda Barry Manton and arrested.

Ms Collins sat in court with two friends for yesterday’s hearing, wearing a furry, sleeveless jacket and shiny leggings.

O’ Neill’s long list of convictions were outlined to the court and included the Cratloe Woods rape in which O’Neill, then aged 16, was part of a gang that carried out the multiple rape of a woman after her partner had been bundled into the boot of their car.

He got 10 years for his part in the rape.

His barrister, Brian McInerney, yesterday told the court that O’Neill had a difficult past but was now “a new man with a partner and child, with an altered general attitude in life”.

Mr McInerney said there were now traits in O’Neill which, if cultivated, could turn him into a useful citizen.

Judge Carroll Moran jailed O’Neill and Hayes for two years for the phone robbery. He also added 18 months to O’Neill’s sentence, which had been suspended from a sentence he got earlier this year for threatening to burn down the home of Deirdre O’Donovan, a sister of EuroMillions winner Dolores McNamara.

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