Steve Collins has recalled the last moments he shared with his son, Roy, before the young businessman was gunned down in a casino in Limerick.
Holding back tears, Mr Collins yesterday told an inquest he cradled his wounded son, whose final words to him were: “I love you and I love mum.”
The murder occurred on April 9, 2009.
Garda Stephen Kelleher said he was on patrol-car duty with Garda Deirdre Foley when they received a message of a traffic accident at Roxboro Shopping Centre.
As they drove there, two women came running towards them waving their hands. They said a man had been shot. Garda Kelleher ran towards the Steering Wheel pub, and was told the shooting was in the casino next door.
On entering the casino, he saw a man on his hands and knees and another man holding his hand. Garda Kelleher saw a blood stain on the shot man’s back.
As Garda Kelleher travelled with the wounded man in an ambulance to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Roy said: “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” After arriving at the hospital at 12.28pm, medics spent 15 minutes doing compressions on Mr Collins before he was pronounced dead.
Melissa Crawford, his fiancée, identified the body.
Steve Collins — who had been under Garda protection — testified he had left home in Thornfield, Castletroy, shortly after 7am for his pub the Steering Wheel, located at Roxboro Shopping Centre.
He took the same route and was followed as usual by two armed detectives in an unmarked car.
He was getting the pub ready to open at 10.30am. At around 11am, Roy came into his office and told him he was going to Dublin to get a kitchen at MFI for his new house, nearing completion in Killaloe.
He said Roy was in great form, saying he had better go and open the casino arcade which he was licensed to run. Roy had spent 15 minutes with his father.
Steve Collins said he stayed in his office and, shortly after, a barman, Alex Clancy said a fellow was bleeding next door in the casino.
On going to the casino, he saw Roy crouched on his hands and knees and he held him.
Roy told him he couldn’t breathe and he saw a bullet on the ground.
“I am after being shot, Dad,” his son said.
Steve said he tried to make his son more comfortable and rang Det Insp Eamon O’Neill, knowing he would get a quick response.
Roy had been shot in the back and his father cradled him but could not make him comfortable.
Before Roy was put into an ambulance, his son told Steve he loved him and loved his mum.
When Roy said it was hard to breathe, Steve told his son to stop talking.
Prof Marie Cassidy, the state pathologist, said that there was only one significant injury to Roy Collins. This was a gunshot wound to the trunk which entered his right chest and the bullet tracked down into the abdominal cavity causing injuries to the liver, spleen and aorta.
The bullet exited the left side of the deceased’s back.
Coroner Dr Tony Casey told the jury the only verdict they could return was one of murder. A murder verdict was recorded.
Three Limerick men, Wayne Dundon, aged 36, along with Nathan Killeen, aged 24, and James Dillon, aged 28, are serving life sentences for the murder of Roy Collins.