Driver who used mother’s car in gangland murder jailed for 8 years

Choice of vehicle indicated ‘lack of suitability’ for getaway role in plan, suggests judge

A getaway driver who used his mother’s car to help gangland murderers escape the scene of a west Dublin killing has been jailed for eight years.

Sentencing judge Mr Justice Paul McDermott noted on Monday that the decision to use his own mother’s car indicted Matthew Bell’s “lack of suitability to his assigned role” in the gang.

John Gibson was a 28-year-old father of two when he died in a hail of bullets after he was targeted by gunmen from a rival gang in a carpark at the Citywest Shopping Centre in Dublin.

At the Central Criminal Court this afternoon, Bell (25), of Ambervale, in Cookstown, Dublin 24, was jailed for his role in the killing after he pleaded guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of Mr Gibson on September 18th 2017, intending to facilitate the activities of a criminal organisation.

Sentencing Bell to nine years and three months’ imprisonment, with the final 15 months suspended, Mr Justice Paul McDermott, said Bell had driven the car which allowed the gunmen to flee the murder scene and had been an “essential cog” in the operation which led to Mr Gibson’s fatal shooting.

Speaking outside court, Mr Gibson's mother Tara Gibson said that while she was "happy" with the sentence handed down, she said she had hoped Bell would have been jailed for longer.

“I only hope they catch the other ones responsible,” she said. “They are still out there.”

Ms Gibson previously told the court that “a part of me died” when gardaí informed her that her son had been shot dead.

Describing the killing as a “cold-blooded murder carried out in a public place”, Mr Justice McDermott said any sentence imposed would have to reflect the “damage done as well as the nature of the offence”.

He said Mr Gibson’s death had caused “deep sorrow” to his family and had left his two children, who were aged four at five at the time of the murder, without a father.

“The horror of his death and its aftermath remains with them,” the judge said.

Although the offence was in the “upper end of the scale” and a headline term of 12 years and six months was merited, the judge said there were several mitigating factors which entitled Bell to a reduced sentence.

These included Bell’s early guilty plea and his battle against drug addiction, which the judge said indicated there could be a “different path” for the accused in the future.

Mr Justice McDermott also described Bell’s decision to use his mother’s car to transport the killers from the crime scene as “reprehensible” and had indicted the accused’s “lack of suitability to his assigned role” in the gang.