Conviction of two men for murder of Roy Collins upheld
Wayne Dundon and Nathan Killeen lose appeals against their convictions
In July 2014, the Special Criminal Court found Wayne Dundon had ordered the murder of Roy Collins from prison.
Dundon (39), of Lenihan Avenue, Prospect and Killeen (27) of Hyde Road, Prospect, in Limerick had pleaded not guilty at the non-jury Special Criminal Court to the murder of Roy Collins at Coin Castle Amusements, Roxboro Road on April 9, 2009.
Mr Collins, a 35-year-old father of two, who was engaged to be married, died in hospital a short time after he was shot. Mr Collins’ father, Steve Collins, was believed to have been the intended target of the murder, due to his involvement in a previous successful prosecution against Dundon for a threat to kill.
In July 2014, the three-judge Special Criminal Court found Wayne Dundon had ordered the murder from prison and that Killeen was the getaway driver for the gunman, James Dillon. Dundon and Killeen were accordingly given mandatory life sentences for murder.
The men brought appeals against their convictions in April.
But in the Court of Appeal on Thursday, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the three-judge court had not been persuaded that either man’s conviction was unsafe or unsatisfactory.
Accordingly, Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the appeal was dismissed.
Roy Collins father Steve Collins was present in court for the judgment.
After a delay in bringing Dundon to the Criminal Courts of Justice buliding, a prison officer informed the court that both men were “refusing to come out” to hear the judgment being delivered.
Evidence in the trial included witness testimony, with a number of former associates of Dundon and Killeen testifying against them. These were siblings Gareth Collins aka Keogh, Lisa Collins and April Collins — who were not related to the deceased — along with Dundon’s cousins, Christopher McCarthy and Anthony “Noddy” McCarthy.
Central to the defence’s case, it was alleged, was clear and explicit evidence of collusion between “Noddy” McCarthy and other witnesses.
Mr Justice Birmingham said the case against Wayne Dundon ultimately depended on the evidence of Anthony “Noddy” McCarthy.
Anthony “Noddy” McCarthy gave evidence that he had heard Wayne Dundon “roaring” in his cell on the morning in question. He said he saw Wayne Dundon leaning on a locker with a mobile phone up to his ear and when he asked what was happening, he said Dundon told him that he had ordered James Dillon to kill Roy Collins.
Mr Justice Birmingham said much of the appeal was focused on criticising the Special Criminal Court for concluding that Anthony “Noddy” McCarthy gave truthful evidence on which reliance could be placed.
He said the case against Wayne Dundon “morphed” from a multi-layered one at the opening to what was essentially a single witness case. This was because the trial court found no reliance could be placed on the evidence of Gareth Collins, that the prosecution was not advanced by the evidence of April Collins and that the evidence of Christopher McCarthy was “peripheral”.
Mr Justice Birmingham said there was no doubt that points of real substance were identified by the defence at trial, “points which would certainly cause any tribunal of fact to hesitate and to think long and hard”.
“It might well be that another tribunal of fact might have reached a different conclusion” but that was not the point, the judge said.
The issue for the Court of Appeal was whether it was legitimately open to the trial court to convict Wayne Dundon on the evidence it had before it and “we are satisfied that it was legitimately open” to the Special Criminal Court to do so.
He said the trial court approached the case from the position that the evidence of Anthony Noddy McCarthy was uncorroborated and “indeed largely unsupported”.
What was involved here, Mr Justice Birmingham said, was far from the “classic jailhouse informer situation”, as had been contended by the defence.
A classic jailhouse informer comes forward to give evidence that while detained in the same prison as the suspect that the suspect had confessed to him his involvement in a particular crime prior to being incarcerated.
Here, Anthony “Noddy” McCarthy came forward to say he witnessed the actual commission of the crime in that he was a witness to Wayne Dundon directing the murder.
“Again, the reference to supergrass” was quite misplaced because nobody was suggesting any active involvement by Noddy McCarthy in the murder of Roy Collins.
Either way it was insignificant because the trial court repeatedly warned itself that it was dangerous to convict on the evidence of the civilian witnesses, including Noddy McCarthy, if that evidence was uncorroborated.