‘€20k was offered to play role in killing’

A convicted Limerick criminal told the Special Criminal Court that he was offered €20,000 to take part in the killing of publican Steve Collins, the father of murdered businessman Roy Collins.

Gareth Collins said he repeatedly refused to be the getaway driver in the killing and said Wayne Dundon told him to be the driver by mobile phone from his prison cell.

Wayne Dundon, aged 35, of Lenihan Avenue, Prospect; and Nathan Killeen, aged 23, of Hyde Rd, Prospect, have pleaded not guilty to the murder of 35-year-old Roy Collins at Coin Castle Amusements, Roxboro Road Shopping Centre, on April 9, 2009.

Gareth Collins, aged 31, told the court he is serving a seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence for demanding money with menaces and threatening to kill. He has 12 months left to serve.

He told Michael O’Higgins, prosecuting, that he shared a cell with Dundon and on one occasion heard him having a mobile phone conversation with his wife. He said Dundon was “snapping” and was upset. Dundon said his wife said to him: “Don’t let them get away with this. They are after ruining our family.” He took this as a reference to the Collins family.

Gareth Collins said he was released from prison in January 2008 and went to live in Portlaoise with his ex-girlfriend and daughter.

In March 2009, he said Nathan Killeen came to his sister’s house in Limerick, where he had moved, and asked him to drive a car, and there would be “20 grand” for doing that. Gareth Collins said Killeen handed him a mobile phone and Dundon was on the line. He said Dundon asked him about driving a car.

“It’s only to drive Nathan up the road for two minutes. He will go and whack Stevie. It will be a 10-second thing. He will go in and come out,” the witness recalled for the court.

Gareth Collins said that on the day of the killing Killeen and James Dillon called to his sister’s house. He told Killeen he was not getting involved. “He snapped at me. He was cursing me and said ‘what’s going on?’,” he added.

He said Killeen got Dundon on his mobile phone, who, the court heard, told him: “You just drop them up and drop them back down again.”

Gareth Collins said: “He wanted me to drive Nathan up to the Steering Wheel pub. Nathan would go in the pub, whack Stevie Collins, and would come back out.” Gareth Collins said Killeen then handed the phone to Dillon, who mumbled something and then the call ended.

Killeen and Dillon then left and 10 or 20 minutes later, they returned in a taxi, according to Gareth Collins. Killeen was talking about getting a petrol bomb. He went to the back of the house and came back with a bottle, petrol, and a rag. The two men then left and the witness said that, a short time later, he heard sirens and saw black smoke coming from behind houses.

He saw Killeen and Dillon running around the corner being chased by two detectives. Dillon ran to the back of the house and Killeen got over a wall. Gardaí then surrounded the place.

Cross-examined by Remy Farrell, for Dundon, Gareth Collins admitted that he had been arrested for rape. Mr Farrell put it to him that he had moved back to Limerick because “a small mob” had gathered outside the house in Portlaoise.

The trial continues.

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