Cork man jailed for life over murder of alleged drug dealer
A Co Cork man has been jailed for life for murdering an alleged drug dealer whom he claimed had threatened to kill him and had driven his younger brother to suicide.
Michael Collins (31) had denied the murder of Pakie Hogan (42), who was fatally wounded in a shooting at Glen Road, Ballinaraha, Blarney, Co Cork, on February 10th, 2011.
Collins had also denied possession of a rifle and possession of nine rolls of ammunition with intent to endanger life on the same date. The gun had been stolen from Mr Hogan six months before the murder.
At the Central Criminal Court in Cork yesterday, a jury took three hours and 35 minutes to unanimously find Collins guilty of all three charges. Mr Justice Paul Carney imposed the mandatory life sentence on Collins on the murder charge but backdated it by nine months to take account of time spent in custody. He adjourned sentencing on the two firearms offences until today.
During the seven-day trial, the court heard how Collins had got his brother to block the quiet country road near Blarney so that Mr Hogan, a father of five, and his friend Pat O’Brien had to stop their van.
The court heard Collins, who was wearing a balaclava, emerged from behind a ditch with a rifle and fired a shot that hit Mr Hogan in the back and pierced his lung.
He later fired another shot as Mr Hogan and Mr O’Brien tried to flee back down the road after they exited the van.
Collins told gardaí in interviews after his arrest he never intended hurting anyone and his only intention was to scare Mr Hogan, whom he claimed had threatened to kill him. “I wasn’t thinking right at the time. I thought if I scared him, he would leave me alone.”
He maintained the gun – which he had stolen from Mr Hogan six months earlier – had discharged accidentally twice, including for the shot that killed Mr Hogan.
The court had heard Collins had called to Blarney Garda station four days before the killing to inquire about an investigation into a complaint he had made about Mr Hogan. He was not satisfied with progress and walked out of the station, saying he would “look after things” himself, the court was told.
Collins told gardaí during interviews Mr Hogan had supplied drugs to his 16-year-old brother and pressurised him for money so much his brother took his own life. He also told gardaí Mr Hogan also supplied drugs to his other brother, who also tried to take his own life.
He said he had paid off debts of €1,200 and €2,100 owed by his other brother to Mr Hogan for drugs and told him never to give his brother drugs again.
He said that after he challenged Mr Hogan about it and pushed him against his SUV during a row at the Blarney filling station, Mr Hogan began to threaten he would kill him.
He told gardaí two trucks and two cars were burned out and his father’s dogs had been poisoned. He also said Mr Hogan threatened to put a hand grenade in his mother’s letterbox. He said when he heard Mr Hogan was seen driving around his mother’s home in Riverview Estate near Blarney, that and other incidents led him to snap.
Yesterday, the court heard a victim impact statement from the Hogan family in which they said their lives had been devastated by the murder.
Det Sgt Denis Lynch told the court that Collins, whose only previous conviction was for a public order offence, expressed remorse for causing Mr Hogan’s death.