‘Trusted friend’ jailed for luring gang figure out on day he was murdered

Anthony Casserly visited Wayne Whelan’s home to ‘comfort’ his mother during frantic efforts to find him

A trusted friend of Wayne Whelan, who used his friendship to “lure” the Dublin gangland figure into a situation where he was fatally shot, has been jailed for seven years.

The Central Criminal Court heard that when news broke that it was likely Whelan who had been found in a burning vehicle, Anthony Casserly went to the deceased’s family home to “comfort” his mother.

Sentencing Casserly (25) on Friday, Mr Justice David Keane said the accused used his friendship to lower Whelan’s guard, which would have been up because of a previous attempt to murder him. He invited him out to watch an Ireland soccer match.

Whelan (42) was shot dead at Mount Andrew Rise in Lucan, Co Dublin on November 18th, 2019. The car in which he was sitting was set on fire and Whelan’s remains were later found in the passenger seat. He was so badly burned that he had to be identified using DNA analysis.

The deceased was well known to gardaí for decades for his involvement in serious and organised crime and was shot a number of times two months before his death. Four men have been jailed for their roles in that attempted murder.

Hazel Grainger, Whelan’s sister, previously told the court in a victim impact statement that “the sickening part” was that her brother trusted Casserly, who came to the family home while relatives “frantically” tried to locate Whelan.

Sitting behind

Before delivering the sentence, Mr Justice Keane said Whelan was shot least three times in the back of the head by a gunman who had been sitting in the back of the car to his right.

The judge referred to a WhatsApp conversation on Casserly’s phone from November 16th between himself and an unidentified person, where he said he was in a “very bad place” in the days leading up to the murder and everyone “would read all about it in the future”.

“I had no choice, it will click with you when done,” he wrote adding: “I’m sick of it. I’ll end up doing life”.

Mr Justice Keane said Ms Grainger had described in her victim impact statement the deep regard in which the deceased was held by his family and friends and said she had spoken movingly about the deep void left. He expressed his condolences to the Whelan’s family for their loss.

He said Casserly had directly “lured” Whelan to his death and there was no suggestion that he could have reasonably thought that his telephone calls and movements had any other purpose.

A significant aggravating factor in the case, he said, was that the consequences of the assistance which Casserly had provided “was all too clearly the murder of Whelan”.

Mr Justice Keane set the headline sentence at 12 years. In mitigation, he noted Casserly’s admission of guilt, an absence of any prior major convictions, his remorse and relative youth at the time. Casserly has 22 previous convictions largely for road traffic matters.

He sentenced to nine years with the final two years suspended. The sentence was backdated to December 12th, 2019, when he went into custody.

Last October, Christopher Moran (52), who had been on trial at the time for murder at the Central Criminal Court, pleaded guilty to being the getaway driver after the shooting. Casserly then pleaded guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of Whelan. Moran will be sentenced at a later date.