Eamon Dunne ‘tried to use loungeboy as shield’

Gang boss shot eight times in Cabra pub, inquest hears

Gang leader Eamon Dunne saw a gunman coming to shoot him in a Dublin pub and grabbed a lounge boy in an effort to shield himself from a volley of 12 shots, the inquest into his killing has been told.

Dunne (34) of Dunsoughly Drive, Finglas, Dublin 11 was fatally wounded in the Fassaugh House Pub in Cabra, Dublin 7, on April 23rd, 2010.

Dublin man Graham Farrell, who was in the dead man’s company when he was shot, said he saw the killer open fire. “I saw Eamon’s head splatter on the back top right of his head; I knew he was bollixed.”

Another witness told the inquest he suspected somebody inside the pub had texted the gunman Dunne’s exact whereabouts.

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“To get to that right is unusual,” John Fairbrother said of the killers’ making their way to the exact alcove in the large pub where their target was seated.

Dunne was attending a party at the pub, which was not his local.

Mr Fairbrother, a taxi driver from Cabra, said while he knew Dunne and had received an Armani watch from him as a birthday gift, most of the others present at his party did not know him personally.

“They would have known him from the papers,” he said in reference to the media’s coverage of the dead man’s activities in the final years of his life.

He also gave evidence that two “strange men” had met Dunne in the pub without joining the party and after a brief conversation they had left a short period before the fatal attack.

Dunne, whose 16-year-old daughter was in the pub when he was shot, was a drug dealer and armed robber who was suspected of having ordered a large number of gangland murders. Dunne was facing armed robbery charges at the time of his murder.

He was the leader of a drugs gang based in Finglas, north Dublin, that was arguably the biggest in the State and which was once led by Martin Hyland, from Cabra, who was himself shot dead in 2006.

The inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing by persons unknown after Dublin City Coroner Dr Brian Farrell told them it was the only verdict open to them.

Det Insp Frances Sweeney had earlier told the hearing the killing was planned and Dunne had been signalled out. He said a total of 12 shots had been fired, adding that “down the years” there were a large number of threats to Dunne’s life.

Dr Farrell told Dunne's father Eamon Dunne Snr, who was present with other family members, that a postmortem by State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy found the dead man had been shot eight times.

He added six bullets had been recovered from the deceased’s remains. The postmortem found two shots to the head and three others to vital organs were catastrophic, with a number of exit wounds also found.

“They would have been immediately fatal; severed the brain stem,” Dr Farrell said of the wounds to the head.

When he added the toxicology reports on the dead man’s remains were clear save for trace amounts of alcohol so small they barely registered, Mr Dunne Snr asked Dr Farrell to reiterate that finding.

“It’s just that the papers would be saying he was sniffing heroin and all sorts,” Mr Dunne Snr said, who then left the court in Dublin’s north inner city with other family members without making any comment.

Dunne was one of about 20 men who had gathered to celebrate the 38th birthday of Mr Fairbrother. The party had been planned for another pub, the Oasis in Cabra, but staff there had a change of mind, forcing the party to switch venue in the days leading up to it.

At around 10pm a red VW Passat pulled up outside the pub, from which three armed men with their faces and heads concealed emerged.

One stood at the door to the premises while another went into the pub. He walked to within four or five feet of Dunne and shot him after shouting at others present to “get down on the floor” and gesturing to them with his hand.

The third man, who some witnesses believed was also armed, stood back, apparently to take action and possibly shoot at anyone who tried to intervene.

As the killer moved in, Dunne tried to use Chinese national Geng Zian - who had worked part time in the pub was waiting for payment for a 7-Up from Dunne - as a shield.

While not present in the court, he gave a statement after the shooting which was read into the record at the inquest.

“He pulled me in close to his body; close to me as if he was trying to hide himself by covering himself using me,” he said, adding that at first he thought it was a joke.

“He pulled me in close to himself, covering himself for a few seconds. Suddenly I heard a very loud bang behind my head on my right side.”

He thought the bang was a balloon bursting, but he said he quickly realised it was gunfire from right behind him close to his ear, which was still ringing 30 minutes later.

As the first shots were fired, he was pushed out of the way from behind and took cover behind a chair and then in the women’s toilets where other people were also hiding.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times