Life sentence for ‘cold, calculated and entirely pointless’ murder

Seán Ducque also got 12 years for armed robbery a few hours earlier of a taxi driver

A 33-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering a father-of-three by shooting him with a shotgun in the chest before reloading and shooting him in the head.

Seán Ducque also received a 12-year sentence for the armed robbery a few hours earlier of a taxi driver, who has had to give up his career.

Ducque, of no fixed abode, had admitted killing Kieran Farrelly (33) on 26th October 2014 at Killarney Court, Killarney Street in Dublin. However, the father-of-one said the deceased had provoked him by threatening to punch his head in.

He pleaded not guilty to murder and went on trial at the Central Criminal Court last month. The jury did not accept his defence and convicted him.

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He had previously pleaded guilty to robbing taxi driver David Wyer of a mobile phone, set of car keys and approximately €150 in cash, and having a firearm with intent to commit robbery on 26th October 2014 at Terrace Place in the city.

He also admitted robbing Hugh Gildea of a mobile phone, wrist watch and approximately €520 in cash on 27th October 2014 at Mabbot Lane in the city.

Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, told his sentencing hearing on Monday that that Ducque had got into Mr Wyer’s taxi around 7.15pm that day and asked to be taken to Terrace Place. When they arrived, he produced a sawnoff shotgun and said: “Right pal, you know what this is”.

Mr Wyer gave him the contents of his wallet, but Ducque also demanded his phone and keys. On the way out, he opened the shotgun to show his victim that it was loaded.

“Just in case you think it’s not real,” he said.

Mr Wyer pleaded with him to leave him his keys so that he wouldn’t be immobile. He said he’d leave them at the end of the road.

“Sorry pal, I’m desperate,” he said as he left.

Mr Wyer went to the end of the road but couldn’t see the keys. There were some children on the street and he made contact with the emergency services through them.

Gardaí­ viewed video footage of the incident from an internal camera in the vehicle and a number of them recognised Ducque. Sgt Enda O’Sullivan explained that this was about an hour after midnight, by which time he had murdered Mr Farrelly with the same gun. Among the items found at the murder scene was the key to Mr Wyer’s taxi.

The court had already heard that another person had asked Ducque to give Mr Farrelly “a hiding”. The accused had then lured him to Killarney Court on the pretence that he would sell him a mobile phone.

He shot him first in the chest and then reloaded his weapon and shot him at close range in the eye. The court heard that Mr Farrelly had pleaded for his life between shots.

Ducque’s next crime of the night was the robbery of Hugh Gildea on Mabbot Lane shortly before 6am. Mr Gildea was sleeping in the alleyway and was woken by a male and female assaulting him in an effort to rob him. Ducque was hitting him in the face and the female was going through his pockets. CCTV footage showed that the robbery lasted about 23 minutes.

A man staying in a nearby hostel called the Gardaí­, who arrived to find him shaken, upset and clearly injured. He was able to point out the culprits, who were still at the end of the lane.

Gardaí­ found €375 rolled up in the defendant’s underwear and Mr Gildea’s phone was found with his belongings. He was also wearing two watches on his left wrist, one of which was Mr Gildea’s.

Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, read out the victim impact statement of Michelle Brooks, the mother of the deceased. She said Mr Farrelly was the eldest of her four children and her only son. He was also the eldest grandson.

She said that the 27th of October would live with the family forever. It was her mother’s birthday and she had rung her twice that day, once to wish her a happy birthday and a second time to tell her that her grandson was dead.

“It’s like your heart is being ripped from your chest,” she said of the grief. “There are days we don’t want to go out of the house.”

She explained that Mr Farrelly had come home in a closed coffin.

“Family, relatives and friends could only pay their respect to a photo,” she said.

“My son’s life was taken for nothing,” she said.

Taxi driver David Wyer delivered a victim impact statement to the court about the effect the armed robbery had on him. He recalled his first day back to work after eight weeks off following the crime. He became overcome with anxiety when his first potential passenger put out his hand to flag him down.

“I returned home without doing any work that day,” he explained.

He returned again a few days later but found himself “highly nervous with males in the car”.

“I found that I was not stopping for people,” he said. “There were occasions when I would pull off the rank empty because I felt uneasy.”

He said he had been “teetotal” for the 10 years before the robbery but found it very difficult to continue like this afterwards. He found himself standing in a shop about to buy alcohol but managed to stop himself.

However, he found his father dead 13 months after the robbery.

“I was tipped over the edge and in the weeks that followed, started drinking secretly,” he said. “One evening, I suffered a total nervous breakdown.”

He was placed on anti anxiety medication and is still receiving treatment.

“The robbery, from a financial perspective, destroyed me,” he added.

“Currently I’m in receipt of €191 a week,” he concluded. “Having surrendered my PSV licence, I will never drive a taxi again.”

Mr Justice Paul Butler described the murder as "cold, calculated and entirely pointless". He noted that the accused had met his victim only once before. He imposed the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for Mr Farrelly's murder.

He described the armed robbery of Mr Wyer as “a calculated assault and a most terrifying experience”.

He sentenced Ducque to 12 years for that crime and imposed seven years for the firearm possession on the same occasion.

He said the robbery of Hugh Gildea wasn’t as serious because there was no shotgun.He imposed a sentence of three years on that count and backdated each sentence to 5th May 2016, when Ducque had gone into custody for another armed robbery.