Closing speeches in Geoghegan murder trial

The jury has heard closing speeches in the trial of a Dublin man charged with murdering rugby player Shane Geoghegan.

The jury has heard closing speeches in the trial of a Dublin man charged with murdering rugby player Shane Geoghegan.

The 28-year-old Garryowen captain was shot dead near his home in a case of mistaken identity on November 9, 2008.

Barry Doyle (aged 26), a father-of-three from Portland Row, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to his murder at Clonmore, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle in Limerick.

Seán Guerin BL, prosecuting, told the Central Criminal Court jury that there were three pillars to the State’s case: Barry Doyle’s confessions, the evidence of and relating to the mother of one of his children, Victoria Gunnery, and the evidence of April Collins.

He reminded the jury that Ms Collins had given evidence of Barry Doyle’s involvement in a conspiracy to murder a man called John McNamara.

“Her evidence is highly probative, damning evidence,” he said, pointing out that she had named Barry Doyle as the assassin in that planned killing.

“She is certainly not a person of unblemished character,” he said of the former partner of Ger Dundon. “But you’re not going to expect a person of exemplary character to be there during that conversation.”

He said there was significant support for her evidence.

She had said that John Dundon had ordered Barry Doyle to kill John McNamara. Mr Guerin pointed out that Mr McNamara lived four doors away from Mr Geoghegan.

Ms Collins testified that she had driven to a car park in east Limerick hours after the murder, where Barry Doyle was insisting to John Dundon that he had got the right man.

Mr Guerin pointed to mobile phone evidence that put Mr Doyle’s phone in the same area at that time.

“That’s powerful confirmation of her evidence,” he said.

Mr Guerin also described Mr Doyle’s confessions to the murder on camera as “powerful evidence”.

He pointed out that Mr Doyle did not sign any of the memos of interviews in which he had denied involvement, but signed the memo of the interview in which he “told the truth”.

“His admissions so closely matched the truth that they couldn’t have been made by anyone but the killer,” he said.

Mr Guerin said Mr Doyle had not been induced into making a confession on the basis that Ms Gunnery would be released from custody.

He said that if there had been any such deal, he would have been “banging his fists on the table” demanding to know the gardaí had kept their side of the bargain.

He reminded the jury that Mr Doyle had given the gardaí a set of rosary beads to give the Geoghegan family after admitting to the murder. He said this would make no sense if he had been misled into a confession by gardaí.

He reminded the jury that Victoria Gunnery said she asked Barry Doyle how he was going to live with himself.

“That remark bares no other explanation other than that Vicki Gunnery knew Barry Doyle killed Shane Geoghegan,” he said.

She also testified that he said: “If it wasn’t the wrong man, there wouldn’t be so much hype”.

“Barry Doyle got the wrong man,” concluded Mr Guerin. “But the prosecution didn’t get the wrong man. The right man is before you and he’s guilty.”

Martin O’Rourke QC, defending, said the gardaí were so desperate to get a conviction for Shane Geoghegan’s murder that they had called such a witness as April Collins.

“The circumstances in which she gave her statement is rotten to its core,” he said, referring to the fact that she made it four weeks before she was due in court charged with intimidation.

“She’s no better than a witness for hire,” he said. “You can thoroughly discount the evidence of April Collins. It infects the integrity of every aspect of the case against Barry Doyle.”

Referring to his client’s admissions in his 15th garda interview, he quoted a British newspaper article which estimated that one in every five confessions to serious crime was false. He said this was usually due to coercion.

He said there was inducement in this case in the form of threats and promises relating to Victoria Gunnery.

“We say the evidence from interview 15 on was the product of unremitting psychological pressure, threats and promises, and we say this unequivocally.”

He pointed out that Mr Doyle’s and Ms Gunnery’s daughter had a heart complaint and that his client thought that she was going for a hospital check-up on the morning they were both arrested.

“Do the right thing. Don’t keep Vicki away from the young one longer that she has to be,” his client was told in one interview.

“This is a clear indication that if he confessed, Vicki Gunnery would be released,” suggested Mr O’Rourke. “There’s no other interpretation.”

He said his client believed that if he talked, it would solve the plight of his child, who was at home, probably in need of attention.

“On the evidence, it is as clear as day that they (the admissions) were as a result of threats or promises,” said Mr O’Rourke.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan will begin charging the jury of eight men and three women tomorrow morning.

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