‘I will never understand why anyone would want to hurt him’

Warren Nolan (22) jailed for life for murdering ‘gentle giant’ Alan O’Neill in Tallaght

The mother of a "gentle giant" shot to death in front of his Tallaght home by a teenager has said she will never understand why he was murdered.

Doris O’Neill made a statement during the sentencing hearing for Warren Nolan (22) who was 18 when he shot Alan O’Neill (35) at Kiltalown Road on May 27th, 2015 in an attack that was planned over several days.

Nolan was found guilty of Mr O’Neill’s murder by a majority jury verdict in December. He was also found guilty by a unanimous verdict of setting fire to the car he used in the killing.

No motive was suggested for the murder during the trial.


On Monday, Justice Paul McDermott sentenced Nolan to the mandatory term of life imprisonment for murder and six years for setting the car on fire. Both sentences were backdated to September 2017.

Before sentencing, Ms O’Neill told the court that losing her son the way she did was “too horrific, so traumatising, so devastating, so unbearable and so unforgettable.”

Her family, she said, fell apart and were made shells of themselves by their sadness, pain, depression, anxiety and grief.

Alan, she said, was her first-born and helped her to bring up his siblings.

“He was always there for family, a shoulder to cry on, a hug, advice, chat even for hours if needed. We were all close-knit, happy, lucky and blessed to have each other.”

He was artistic and creative, she said, and loved doing charity events and helping to feed the homeless. He loved music and dance and was known to his friends and family as a gentle giant.


“I will never understand why anyone would want to hurt him, and maybe I will never know,” she said. “Heaven has gained an earth angel that gained his wings. We will forever be heartbroken.”

Mr O’Neill’s step-daughter Chantelle Usher said the shooting happened 10 days before she began her Leaving Certificate exams.

“The hardest thing I had to do was to leave the funeral home and sit my exams when all I wanted was to spend every moment available saying my goodbyes,” she said. “But I felt I owed it to Alan as he spent the last year of his life dropping and collecting me from grinds, helping me study and ensuring I got all the rest and good food I needed in the lead up to my orals and exams.”

Her stepfather’s priority had always been to “love and protect us”, she said.

He made them feel safe and knew them better than they knew themselves.

“He knew when we needed a hug before we knew ourselves and he was well able to deal with anything we threw his way.”

Michael Bowman SC, counsel for Nolan, said his client had a difficult background having seen his mother die from an asthma attack as a young child. He was brought up by his grandmother who Mr Bowman said is the only positive influence in his life.

He had become a drug user, taking cannabis and tablets and is in the low range of intellectual ability, the court heard.

Detective Garda Conor Harrison told the court Nolan has 24 previous convictions, including one for possession of a firearm in suspicious circumstances for which he was sentenced to five years imprisonment in June 2015, two weeks after Mr O'Neill's murder.

Det Gda Harrison said the firearms offence related to an incident in which a gun was pointed at a member of An Garda Síochána. The gun was subsequently found to contain no ammunition, he said.

In sentencing Nolan for setting the car on fire, Mr Justice McDermott said an appropriate sentence would be between seven and 10 years but taking into account his young age and other mitigating factors, he sentenced him to six years.