Witness in John Dundon trial rejects living ’charmed life’

April Collins gives evidence against Limerick man for shooting of Shane Geoghegan

State’s key witness was giving evidence against John Dundon for the shooting dead of rugby player Shane Geoghegan.

State’s key witness was giving evidence against John Dundon for the shooting dead of rugby player Shane Geoghegan.

 

The State’s key witness giving evidence against Limerick man John Dundon for the shooting dead of rugby player Shane Geoghegan has rejected suggestions she has led a “charmed life” in escaping prison despite numerous convictions.

April Collins, a 26-year-old who was previously in a relationship with John Dundon’s brother Ger, accepted she had been banned from driving, had driven while banned and had a conviction for intimidating a witness in another case, for which she received a three-year suspended sentence.

Brendan Nix SC, for John Dundon, suggested in the Special Criminal Court that April Collins had been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for giving evidence against his client and that the mother of three had led a “charmed” life.

“Nobody should have to live the life I live; under Garda protection 24-7,” she retorted. Ms Collins has already given evidence that she was present when John Dundon briefed other men on the “comings and goings” of Limerick man John McNamara in November 2008.

She alleged John Dundon told the men he had sourced a gun that would be used to kill McNamara and then assigned the shooting to one man and the job of driving the getaway car to another.

The State contends that the conspiracy plan went wrong when the gunman mistook Shane Geoghegan for John McNamara and shot him dead, not realising the mistake until the following morning.

John Dundon of Hyde Road in Limerick city has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Geoghegan at Clonmore, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, Limerick on November 9th, 2008.

This morning before the Special Criminal Court in Dublin, April Collins took to the witness box for the second day, where Mr Nix SC cross examined her on the incriminating evidence she had given against John Dundon.

He asked her if she was an honest person and she said she was. The court heard that while Ms Collins had been in a relationship with Ger Dundon, a brother of the accused, for 10 years and they had three children, that relationship was now over and she was legally challenging his application to see his children while in prison.

This morning Mr Nix suggested to Ms Collins that she was now in a relationship with 25-year Limerick man Thomas O’Neill, which she confirmed. Mr Nix asked her what she thought about Mr O’Neill’s conviction for his role in a gang rape of a woman in Cratloe Woods, Co Limerick, when he was a teenager. “I don’t want to talk about it,” she told him.

Mr Nix also asked her if she was aware her sister Lisa Collins had been having an affair with Ger Dundon while she, April Collins, was still in a relationship with him. “It was spray painted all over the walls, people were saying things. She is my sister, she wouldn’t do that”.

When it was put to her that another member of her extended family Gordon Ryan had been the “drugs master in Limerick north and south” until he had recently been jailed, she said: “I would know nothing about that”. Ms Collins agreed with Mr Nix that after her former partner Ger Dundon had gone to prison, she had made complaints to the Garda about his brothers John and Wayne Dundon threatening her.

She said a family liaison officer was appointed to her because of that complaint and it was through that officer, Garda James Hourihan, that she made the statements to the Garda implicating John Dundon in the murder of Shane Geoghegan. “I was telling my mother that I knew some things about murders,” she said. “I then rang him (Garda Hourihan) and said to him that I knew stuff about murders.”

She made an appointment to be interviewed a few days later, in April 2012, and was interviewed under caution by Det Supt Jim Browne and his colleague. She could not recall exactly when the interview was and could not recall if it had been recorded, even though she accepted she was making allegations about a very serious crime and that fact had weighed heavily on her.

Mr Nix put it to her that in the 24-hour period before Mr Geoghegan was shot, by her own claims she had overheard a conversation in which the killing was allegedly planned and so she had information that she could have supplied to the Garda at that time that would have saved a life.

He added that in the hours before the shooting she was stopped on an unrelated matter by two gardaí, with Mr Nix questioning why she had not spoken out then, with still time to save a life. “Cos I would have been killed if I opened my mouth back then, and my whole family would have been killed,” Ms Collins said.

When asked if she regretted not going to the Garda before the shooting she insisted she had done nothing wrong. “I feel very sorry for his family. He’s been killed; an innocent man.”

She said while she gave her statement last year about the 2008 murder, she could not recall gardaí asking her questions. She believed she dictated a statement. “I just remember talking and them writing,” she said.

Mr Nix put it to her that there were times in the statement expressed in the 24-hour clock and references to “real time” and “time shown”. “Nobody talks like that unless they are a guard or work for CIE or the Army. Isn’t that Garda-speak; 23.45? Real time? Aren’t they Garda words?” Ms Collins said she would sometimes express the time of day using regular speech – “like 8 o’clock in the morning” – or might use the 24-hour clock, like those times in her Garda statement. When asked Mr Nix to express the time “ten to 12 at night in the 24-hour clock” she replied: “That’s 11.45, or 11.15; sorry. I don’t know, I’m confused”.

The trial has now been adjourned until Tuesday morning.