Two men were jailed today for five years in the first Limerick gangland cases to come before the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.
Ger Dundon (aged 23), of Hyde Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston and David McCormack (aged 26), of Crecora Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston were each sentenced to five years imprisonment having both pleaded guilty to committing violent disorder at Sarsfield Avenue, Garryowen on February 17, 2010.
The cases were not sent forward to the three-judge, non-jury court under new anti-gangland laws but were instead forwarded under existing legislation which allows the Director of Public Prosecutions to send non-terrorist cases for trial at the court.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler said that the five-year sentences would be backdated to April 2010, when both Dundon and McCormack were arrested along with six other men following a Garda investigation into extortion.
Chief Superintendant David Sheehan told Mr Thomas O’Connell SC, prosecuting, that the charge against the two men arose following attempts by others to collect €20,000 they believed they were owed by nightclub promoter Mark Heffernan (aged 27).
He said that although the two accused men were not involved in earlier attempts to get the money from Mr Heffernan, there was “linkage” between events which eventually cumulated in a group of men chasing Mr Heffernan across Limerick city on February 17.
Mr Heffernan told gardaí that he had parked his jeep outside Garryowen post office when a number of people armed with hammers got out of a blue Volvo car which had parked alongside him.
Mr Heffernan said that he recognised two of the men as David McCormack and Ger Dundon, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of the car.
He told gardaí that he accelerated away from the scene, but the Volvo car gave chase and eventually cornered him as he attempted to affect a u-turn on Sarsfield Avenue.
Mr Heffernan said that Dundon got out of the passenger seat and began to wave his arms, shouting at him to stop the car, while he believed McCormack was standing on the road armed with a black bar.
He told gardaí that when he heard someone open the boot of the jeep, he dropped a gear and drove at the men, who dived out of the way when he mounted a footpath in order to make good his escape.
Mr Heffernan was further pursued by the Volvo car, which caused him to run red lights as he drove out on to the Dublin road and circled Limerick city while attempting to contact gardaí on his mobile phone.
Chief Supt Sheehan agreed with Mr O’Connell that when asked by gardaí what he would do if he got “banged-up” for a few years because of a “rat”, McCormack told them he would “kill them dead” before saying he would “put them in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives”.
Chief Supt Sheehan told Mr O’Connell that both Mr Heffernan and his family are now under 24-hour garda protection.
He agreed with counsel for Dundon, Mr Martin O’Rourke BL, that although he had waved his arms and shouted during the offence, it was not alleged that Dundon was carrying any weapon or that there were any weapons of offence found in the blue Volvo car.
Mr O’Rourke told the court that father-of-three Dundon, who has 99 previous convictions, was “for all intents and purposes” a person with a limited record of offences which would concern court in the context of an offence of violent disorder.
Mr Andrew Sexton SC, for McCormack, told the court that his client had not taken part in the previous incidents involving Mr Heffernan and had not been charged with the possession of any weapons of offence.
He said that McCormack, who has 19 previous convictions, had begun offending in 2002, shortly after the death of his father, and that he had displayed a “certain courage” in entering a plea of guilty.
Mr Justice Paul Butler said that while the court acknowledged there was no evidence that Dundon and McCormack had tried to retrieve money from Mr Heffernan, it was satisfied there was a “campaign of intimidation” against him.