A convicted Limerick criminal who is giving evidence at the trial of two men charged with the murder of businessman Roy Collins was described as a “crooked snaky c**t” by his sister’s partner, the Special Criminal Court has heard.
In his direct evidence today, Gareth Collins (aged 31), also known as Gareth Keogh, told the non-jury court that he was offered €20,000 to take part in the killing of publican Steve Collins, the father of murdered Limerick businessman Roy Collins.
Wayne Dundon (aged 35) of Lenihan Avenue, Prospect; and Nathan Killeen (aged 23) of Hyde Road, 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.
Mr Collins said that on the day of the killing Nathan Killeen and James Dillon called to his sister's house and they had a conversation in the garden.
He told Killeen that he was not getting involved.
"He snapped at me. He was cursing me and said what's going on," he added.
He said that Killeen got Wayne Dundon on his mobile phone and and Dundon said:"You just drop them up and drop them back down again."
"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," he said.
Killeen and Dillon then left and 10 or 20 minutes later they arrived back at his sister's house in a taxi.
Killeen was saying get a petrol bomb and then 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 police and ambulance sirens and saw black smoke coming from behind houses.
Under cross-examination by counsel for Dundon, Mr Remy Farrell SC, Mr Collins agreed that he remembered talking to the guards on April 9, 2009 when they called to his house between 12:40pm and 12:50pm.
He agreed that when he was asked to give an account of his whereabouts and movements, he gave gardaí an incorrect account as he was in fear of people and what they had asked him to do, and also what might happen to him and his family if he told the guards what was going on.
Mr Collins agreed that in this account he told gardaí he spent the night before the shooting in Corbally with a woman who had children.
He agreed with Mr Farrell that his then girlfriend lived in Corbally at the time.
The witness also agreed that he talked to his then girlfriend on the phone on April 9, but said it was a normal civil conversation.
Asked by Mr Farrell how it was his girlfriend came to give the same story that the witness had stayed with her the night before the shooting and she had dropped him home on April 9, Mr Collins replied that counsel would have to ask her that.
Mr Collins disagreed that the matter was a coincidence, but when asked if he could give any insight in to this the witness said he had maybe discussed the matter with his then girlfriend.
Mr Farrell then told the witness: “There is actually a reason as to why I ask questions in a particular sequence, because I don’t want to reveal where the sucker punch is coming from.”
Counsel reminded the witness he had given evidence that he did not talk about anything unusual with his then girlfriend and did not talk about giving false alibis.
Mr Collins replied that he had given that answer, but if his then girlfriend gave that account “something must have happened”. However, he agreed with Mr Farrell that he did not recall discussing the matter with his then girlfriend.
The witness agreed he told gardai that he left Corbally at 10:15am and went back to Ballinacurra Weston where his family home was.
In his statement, Mr Collins said he knocked on the door but as there was no answer he went to the home of his sister, Lisa Collins, on Hyde Avenue.
The witness agreed that told gardaí that he climbed up the rear extension of the house and entered the through a rear window, and that Johnny Collins and others were in the house, while April Collins arrived later.
Put to him by Mr Farrell that it was an "amazing coincidence" that Johnny Collins described Gareth Collins coming to the house on April 9 through the window in circumstances that were precisely the same as the account give by the witness to gardai, Mr Collins said he did not why Johnny Collin said that and counsel would have to ask him.
Mr Collins agreed his evidence was that Nathan Killeen and James Dillon called to his sister’s house, left to collect Nathan Kinsella’s dole money, and then returned 15-20 minutes later.
Put to him by Mr Farrell that there was evidence to show the dole money was collected sometime after 11am, meaning the men left the house at 10:50am at the earliest, Mr Collins said he was not sure what time they left.
The witness agreed he told gardai in his first statement that when he was in the house on Hyde Avenue he was texting another girl on his phone. He agreed with Mr Farrell that this girl was aged 20 now, but replied that he did not know if it was fair to say that made her 15 at the time.
He agreed with Mr Farrell that gardai took his mobile phone as part of their investigation and accepted they plugged it in to a computer to download its data.
Mr Collins said he could not recall sending a message to this girl saying: “Well what ya gonna do for me” or getting a reply of a “semi-colon and a bracket” at 11:06am on April 9. Mr Farrell told the court that he understood this to be the equivalent of a “smiley face winking”.
The witness told Mr Farrell he also could not remember replying “Tell me” to the message. Put to him by Mr Farrell that it was “a matter of logic” he had sent that reply between 11:06am and 12:40pm on April 9 – when his phone was taken by Det Gda Kevin Swan – Mr Collins replied “possibly”.
Put to him by counsel that at a time when he told the court that he was staring out the back window of his sister’s house not knowing what to do after the visit of Nathan Killeen and James Dillon, he was not so distracted that he could not send “flirty texts to some young one”, Mr Collins replied: “That’s not right, no”.
Mr Collins accepted he was flirting but said he did not remember it.
Asked by Mr Farrell if had any gotten any promises from gardai as to “what they might be able to do” for him if he cooperated with the investigation, Mr Collins said the only thing that was promised was protection for his family.
He denied that he had ever asked for time off on his sentence and said he was never aware at any point that Anthony McCarthy, Christopher McCarthy or April Collins intended to make statements themselves in relation to the investigation.
Mr Collins said there was no discussion about money being handed over and denied he ever tried to “shake anyone down” or extort money by telling them he was going to make a statement against them.
However, he told Mr Farrell that he was owed “a few pound” by Christopher McCarthy.
Mr Collins told Mr Farrell that Christopher McCarthy had been going out with his sister for a long time and that he was an old friend and he trusted him.
Asked by Mr Farrell if it surprised him to hear Christopher McCarthy describe him as a “crooked snaky c**t”, Mr Collins replied that people had their own opinions.
However, the witness agreed that it seemed a bit unfair.
Gareth Collins previously told the court that he is serving a seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence imposed by the Special Criminal Court for demanding money with menaces and threatening to kill. He said he has 12 months of that sentence left to serve.
The cross-examination of Mr Collins continues tomorrow at the trial before presiding judge Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley.