Campion a hired hitman with long, ugly history of crime and violence

 

LIMERICK MURDER TRIAL: GARY CAMPION has spent a significant part of his adult life in prison. Despite that he has been implicated in four murders and is now serving life sentences for two of those fatal attacks.

He is the only man currently in prison to be convicted of two gangland killings.

The 26-year-old father of two also once threatened to kill a prison officer telling him he had shot people in Limerick for €10,000 and would have “no problem” paying twice that sum to have the officer shot dead.

“It wouldn’t be my first time,” he told his victim.

Campion comes from a family that has been entrenched in serious violence. His brother, William jnr (39) is currently serving life in prison for the murder of Patrick Skehan. The 68-year-old bachelor farmer from Bridgetown, Co Clare, died from his injuries two months after Campion jnr robbed his home in 1998.

He was found beaten and unconscious, his hands and legs bound with cable wire, and hanging upside down from the banisters.

Another of the brothers, Noel Campion (34), was shot dead in April 2007. A convicted armed robber, he wasn’t long out of jail when he was gunned down in Limerick city.

Garda sources told The Irish Timesthat Gary Campion was well known to them before he was even a teenager.

“He was into everything; robbing cars, a bit of thieving, drugs.”

Originally from Southill, the family moved out of the area in the late 1980s and relocated across the city to Moyross.

“There was bonfires in Southill when they moved out; people were that glad to see the back of them,” said one Garda source.

Gary and Noel Campion were members of the McCarthy- Dundon gang; so-called because its nucleus is made up of members of the related McCarthy and Dundon families.

They are the main gang in Limerick’s feud and are rivals of the Keane-Collopy gang. Most of the key members of both gangs are now in prison.

Campion first came to widespread public attention in 2006 when he was charged, along with a number of other men, with the 2002 murder of Brian Fitzgerald. The 34-year-old father of two was shot dead outside his Corbally home on November 29th, 2002, because he refused to let the McCarthy-Dundon gang sell drugs in Docs nightclub where he worked as head of security.

An English contract killer, James Cahill (34), confessed to the murder. He was jailed for life and implicated others in the killing. He gave evidence in court outlining how Campion drove him to and from the murder scene on a motorbike.

Gardaí believe the McCarthy- Dundons paid Campion €10,000 for his role in the killing. He was convicted of Mr Fitzgerald’s murder and jailed for life in 2007. But in the periods of freedom he enjoyed before that conviction he kept busy.

Just four weeks after the killing of Fitzgerald, the McCarthy- Dundons shot dead car dealer Seán Poland (39), during a botched robbery at his home in Ardnacrusha, Co Clare, on New Year’s Eve, 2002.

Campion (then aged 19) and another man quickly emerged as chief suspects for Mr Poland’s killing.

Less than five months later, Campion was implicated in the murder of Robert Fitzgerald. The 23 year old was shot in the head after leaving a party in Moyross on May 6th, 2003. He was killed because he associated with people in the Keane-Collopy gang.

It was in May 2004, when serving a sentence for assault, that Campion made his threat to kill prison officer John Ryan during a minor scuffle at Limerick Prison.

“I’ve shot people in this town for €10,000 and I’d have no difficulty spending €20,000 to have you blown away. If it’s the last thing I do, I’ll get you and your family,” Campion told John Ryan.

He was later jailed for two years for the death threat.

Campion was released from jail on Friday, September 14th, 2007. Just three days later he shot dead Ryan.

Ryan, like Gary Campion, had long been a member of the McCarthy-Dundon gang. The two men were also friends.

The Keane-Collopy gang may have been the arch-rivals of the McCarthy-Dundons, but when they offered Campion money to shoot Ryan he didn’t hesitate. Campion was also motivated to shoot Ryan over a remark he made about a member of Campion’s family.

The McCarthy-Dundons were livid that Campion had double- crossed them in killing their key associate Ryan. They vowed revenge.

When Noel Campion was released from an armed robbery prison sentence in early 2007 he was gunned down by the McCarthy-Dundon gang.

That killing was in revenge for Ryan. It was also ordered because Noel Campion was setting up his own independent drugs gang to rival the McCarthy-Dundons.

Apart from the murders Gary Campion either carried out or was implicated in, he was suspected of involvement in other serious gun violence.

In 2000 Campion and another man took two Limerick brothers to a location in Moyross, stripped them and were about to shoot them when gardaí arrived.

In the summer of 2003 Campion tried to kill Joseph McCarthy, (then aged 32), from Delmege Park, by opening fire on him through the door of his house. Mr McCarthy survived.

Campion made a number of attempts to kill a young Limerick criminal five years ago.

The target became so fearful for his life that he killed himself.

Campion will now serve his two life sentences in Portlaoise Prison with other gangland criminals on E1 landing.

He is unlikely to be released for several decades.