‘We’ve paid the ultimate price’

Two of Limerick’s most dangerous criminals have received life sentences for the murder that finally forced the city to fight back.

‘We’ve paid the ultimate price’

On April 9, 2009, innocent father-of-two Roy Collins, 35, was shot in the chest while he worked at his amusement arcade at the Roxboro Rd shopping centre.

He was not the intended target. The hitman was supposed to kill his father, businessman Steve Collins, who had helped gardaí in a previous investigation and has now been forced to live a life in hiding abroad.

Following a 29-day trial at the Special Criminal Court, Wayne Dundon, aged 36, of Lenihan Ave, Prospect, was found to have ordered the hit from prison. The three-judge non-jury court also found Nathan Killeen, aged 24, of Hyde Rd, Prospect, was the getaway driver for the gunman, James Dillon.

The judges, led by Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley, imposed the mandatory life sentences on the men.

Just before noon on the day, Roy Collins was running Coin Castle Amusements in the premises alongside his father’s pub, the Steering Wheel, when a gunman walked in and shot him. He was crouched on his knees holding himself when Steve Collins rushed in after being told somebody was shot.

Following the verdict, Steve Collins said the family had been targeted because they had stood up to the gang, and respected the law.

“All this happened to us because we did the right thing. We’ve paid the ultimate price for that; one child maimed, another murdered.” He said they had been left “devastated and empty”, adding: “It was me they came for that morning. I’d gladly swap places.”

Steve Collins said his wife, Carmel, was a shadow of her former self. “No mother should have to bury a child.

“Maybe God will forgive them. I never will,” he said.

Their other children had their worlds torn apart by the murder of their brother. “These thugs have forced them into a life of fear. They’ve been forced to uproot and move to another country,” he said.

When his father found him, Roy Collins was able to say he was shot but not who shot him. He recalled that, as his son had gasped for his last breath, he wanted his parents to know that he loved them. He died in the ambulance.

The murder prompted protests in the city. This in turn forced the Dáil to introduce anti-gangland laws.

Ultimately, the criminal network that had wreaked havoc on Limerick for a decade began to crack. However, the remorselessness of the gang also forced the Collins family out of the country for a life on a witness protection programme.

Steve Collins thanked the public and especially the people of Limerick for their support: “I believe that the breaking up of this gang and the new laws enacted by our Dáil are part of Roy’s legacy.”

Superintendent Jim Ryan, who was the first detective on the scene of the murder, said the experience of local police and ability to act quickly on the day helped. He said the double conviction represented a good day for Limerick.

“Today two very serious criminals have been convicted of this most heinous crime, two very dangerous men are now off the streets. These are dangerous people, and a danger to everybody in Limerick City,” he said.

That was the view of Cllr John Gilligan, the mayor of Limerick at the time, who led thousands of people onto the streets after the murder to show the criminals enough was enough.

“A great change came about, because the Collins family refused to lie down. Ireland and Limerick owes them a huge debt of gratitude,” he said.

More in this section