Pathetic bravado of a murderer

John Dundon showed no remorse for the killing of an innocent man


If you look at investigating officers at the end of a major murder trial, you see the tension evaporate from their faces at the moment of conviction. The feeling of relief is almost palpable.

Not so yesterday in the Special Criminal Court.

True, there was some grim satisfaction to be taken from the fact that a vicious and evil man will be off the streets for a few years longer. But that was about it. Apart from a contemptuous little grin from the murderer as he was taken down, nobody was celebrating.

There was silence in the courtroom when John Dundon was found guilty of the murder of Shane Geoghegan, an innocent young man mistakenly shot outside his home in Limerick by a thug who had been briefed and dispatched by Dundon to kill a rival drug dealer.

After the three judges were gone, there weren’t the usual handshakes and smiles. The huge contingent of gardaí quickly dispersed. Chief-Supt Dave Sheahan and his team from Limerick made no comment as they walked from the courts.

Meanwhile, Shane Geoghegan’s family – including his mother, fiancée and brother, slipped discreetly away. Mary Geoghegan sat through the trial of the man responsible for the death of her son. But she had no wish to make a statement in court when he was finally convicted of his murder.

“She has asked me to say simply that the facts of the case speak for themselves” said prosecuting counsel, Sean Guerin.

And what more was there to be said? The whole country has felt her pain and knows her beloved Shane was a fine man. He is well remembered and will be long remembered.

We were glad Mary Geoghegan didn’t speak in the insulting presence of her son’s killer.

Dundon’s lawyer said his client “deeply regrets” that Shane lost his life in the way he did. But would that regret have been deep enough for him to remove his headphones and actually listen to her?

The sight of this pumped up little man putting on a show by listening to music while Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns read out the final part of the judgment was quite hard to take. Even on the far side of the crowded courtroom, it was possible to make out the beat.

He was listening to rap, said some of those who were seated nearest the sound leakage.

It was utterly galling to have to witness such a display of blatant disrespect, with Dundon peering up from under his eyebrows every now and then to see how his studied indifference was going down. Loving the notoriety, no doubt.

Scary, how one despicable individual can cause such a fuss. A walk-through metal detector and body scanning unit was set up at the entrance to the courtroom. Everyone was searched going in. Names were taken.

The gardaí were tense and very alert. Inside, they constantly scanned the room. Any movement at the door was noted. Detectives stared at Dundon. One man, seated directly opposite him on the far side, never took his eyes off the defendant.

You could sense their loathing of this lawless and dangerous man, who has caused so much pain to so many during his criminal life. Here was someone beneath contempt.

And Dundon batted it right back to them. Headphones on, hunched forward, the heels of his hands pressed to his chin and his fingers splayed over his ears. Sometimes he moved his head to the beat and swayed his shoulders. Showing off.

He wore a navy track suit top with blue stripes down the arm, its collar pulled over the bottom half of his face. He held the zip-pull with his teeth. At first, we thought initials had been cut into his closely shaved hair. But they were scars - lines and welts on his scalp, like battle souvenirs on the muzzle of a pittbull.

It took the softly spoken Nicholas Kearns a little over half an hour to read the final 23 pages of the no-jury court’s 84 page judgment.

This was a squalid case, involving men with no respect for anything or anyone; criminals who deal in intimidation and brutality and won’t hesitate to kill.

And at the top of this pile of dysfunction and death is John Dundon, the swaggering middle brother in a notorious criminal family. All four Dundon brothers are in jail. Last night, he returned there with a new title to add to his lengthy criminal CV: convicted killer.

He affected not to hear the verdict. Only once did he remove the headphones, and that was to hear his lawyer make mitigating points on his behalf. Then he put them back on. He didn’t stand when the judges entered and left and made a crude gesture with one hand held low after the verdict.

The Geoghegans listened, expressionless, as he was sentenced to life. The guards, grim faced, watched Dundon leave.

Outside on the street, his solicitor said his client wore the headphones to avoid hearing what he believed would be a “tissue of lies” against him, as he vehemently insists he is innocent.

“He wanted to keep himself to himself” and didn’t “overreact to any adverse outcome”.

How thoughtful. And to think we thought it was just a pathetic display of bravado from a murdering gangster about to go down for life.