Man jailed for 10 years over role in murder of Noel Kirwan
Jason Keating (27) played part in ‘chilling and disturbing’ Clondalkin killing in 2016
Noel Kirwan: gardaí are fearful tensions will run high at his funeral and the burial may have paramilitary trappings
A father-of-three who helped a “sinister and ruthless” criminal organisation carry out the “execution-style murder” of Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan has been jailed for 10 years by the Special Criminal Court.
Speaking outside court, Detective Superintendent Sean Campbell said the case showed how an ordinary man with no links to organised crime can be targeted by those involved in Dublin’s “organised feud” and “executed” in front of his family members in callous fashion.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the “most disturbing” aspect of the case was that Mr Kirwan had been shot sitting next to his partner Bernadette Roe and that either she had a “lucky escape” or the gunman was “highly efficient”.
He also called it “disturbing” that Mr Kirwan had apparently been shot for no reason other than the fact pictures of him had appeared in the media in the company of a childhood friend.
The three-judge court previously heard Mr Kirwan had no involvement in criminality and that the only motive gardaí could establish for his murder was because he was photographed beside Gerry “the Monk” Hutch.
Jason Keating played a role of “real significance” in the murder as he was present at the scene of the shooting in Clondalkin, was in contact with the person who monitored movements recorded by a tracking device and provided this information via a phone to the assailant who had approached Mr Kirwan’s car and discharged the firearm, the non-jury court has already heard.
A tracking device was put under Mr Kirwan’s car in the weeks leading up to his killing and this could be linked to Keating in the days preceding the murder.
Mr Kirwan was sitting in his new Ford Mondeo car on December 22nd, 2016 when a gunman shot him six times with a Makarov handgun which was later recovered at the scene.
The 62-year-old, a “long-time” friend of Gerry Hutch, suffered eight gunshot wounds in total to his head, right arm, chest and abdomen.
The murder of Mr Kirwan arose from a “notorious feud” between two criminal factions but the deceased had no connection with either side, the court heard.
Jason Keating (27), of Lower Main Street, Rush, Co Dublin admitted in October to participating in or contributing to activity intending to facilitate the commission by a criminal organisation or any of its members of a serious offence, namely the murder of Mr Kirwan at St Ronan’s Drive, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 between December 20th and 22nd 2016, both dates inclusive.
The offence is contrary to organised crime legislation brought in by Section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 and has a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
Keating was originally tried for the murder of Mr Kirwan but midway through his trial on October 18 he pleaded guilty to facilitating a criminal organisation in committing murder and this plea was accepted by the DPP.
The court entered a “nolle prosequi” on the original charge of murder. This means the State will not be proceeding with the prosecution in relation to the count of murder.
Prosecution counsel Paul Greene SC said at Keating’s sentence hearing last month that the activities by the criminal organisation could be traced back to early November 2016 but the defendant’s individual contribution began on December 20th that year.
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Hunt said the most disturbing aspect of the case was the fact Mr Kirwan was shot sitting next to his partner, Bernadette Roe. The gunman was prepared to run a significant risk to others, he said, adding that either Ms Roe had a lucky escape or the assailant was “highly efficient”.
Mr Justice Hunt said the criminal organisation had engaged in long-range planning to bring about Mr Kirwan’s death and had employed various types of modern technology.
An aggravating factor in the case was that Keating had participated in this “barbaric’ organisation.
“There is no room for any doubt or illusion of the deliberate nature of Mr Keating’s conduct or any misapprehension as to the ends,” the judge remarked.
Mr Justice Hunt said the victim impact statement given by Donna Kirwan, daughter of the deceased, was an eloquent testimony to the irreversible damage that had been brought about by Keating and others involved in the criminal organisation.
Bernadette Roe also prepared a victim impact statement but asked for it not to be read aloud at the sentence hearing but instead be handed into the court to be considered by the three judges. “Ms Roe’s is an equal account of the devastation brought about by this,” the judge said.
Sinister and ruthless
The court said it was satisfied that Keating knew he was assisting a “sinister and ruthless” organisation to commit murder and he had been engaged in a range of individual activities. “The resulting damage is incalculable and irreparable,” he said.
The judge said the headline sentence was 13 years and five months and it was difficult to see what further assistance Keating could have provided without crossing the line of committing murder.
Sentencing him, Mr Justice Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Sinead Ni Chualachain and Judge Cormac Dunne, sentenced Keating to 10 years imprisonment, backdated to May 2nd, 2017 when he went into custody.
The judge emphasised that it was now up to Keating to rehabilitate himself and use the rest of his life constructively upon his release.
The court extended its condolences to the Kirwan family and said it was clear from the victim impact statements that he was an “attentive family man” whose loss was keenly felt.
Mr Kirwan’s daughter Donna told the court last month the “only thing” her dad was guilty of was “showing his respect” at a childhood friend’s funeral.
“People like this should remember it’s not the people who are killed that suffer it’s the families who are left behind,” she said.
Donna Kirwan described her dad as a “grafter” and said that while some of his friends chose to make money the easy way by selling drugs, her father chose to work for a living because that was how he was raised.