Two jailed for life for the murder of Limerick barman


A man described as one of the most violent criminals in Limerick was yesterday jailed for life after being convicted of the murder of a barman in the city four years ago. A co-accused was also found guilty of murder and got life in prison.

After deliberating for more than six hours, a jury at the Central Criminal Court unanimously convicted Raymond Casey (38), of Ashe Avenue, of the murder of Mr Noel Pyper (48) on August 12th, 1997.

Shortly after, the jury found Anthony Casey (21) of Mount Pleasant Avenue, Limerick, also guilty of murder. Immediately after the verdict, the victim's brother, Mr Jim Pyper, said it was a savage killing but "justice has been done".

Both men were sentenced to the mandatory term of life imprisonment.

The head of the murder investigation, Supt Gerry Mahon of Limerick, said in his 30 years in Limerick city, Raymond Casey was "one of the most violent criminals Limerick has ever seen".

He had 53 previous convictions, including arson, assault, robbery and possession of drugs. Anthony Casey, who was in care since the age of seven, has eight previous convictions, including criminal damage and larceny.

As he was getting into the prison van, Raymond Casey shouted: "I'm an innocent man".

Mr Justice Carney, presiding, said the case had taken more than four years to come to trial before he "took personal control of this case". Primarily, this was because Raymond Casey kept changing his counsel and at one stage, conducted his own defence.

The judge said he warned Casey at the time that "come what may" the case was going to come to a conclusion. Anthony Casey was in no way to blame for the delay, he added, neither was Raymond Casey's legal team, who had acted in the "highest tradition".

Exempting the jury from further service for life, Justice Carney noted that the Limerick gardaí had a further two murders to deal with since the present case came to trial in November.

The court had heard that Mr Pyper was kicked to death in an apparent mugging attempt in the early hours of the morning of August 12th, shortly after he left work at Noel's Bar in Limerick City Centre.

Evidence was given that he normally took from the pub takings £150 to buy provisions for the pub for the following day. The State's case was that Raymond Casey followed the victim into a fast food restaurant and then, with Anthony Casey, stalked him until he came to a laneway off Newenham Street.

The court heard that Mr Pyper, who was suffering from advanced throat cancer, sustained a savage beating and died from inhalation of blood caused by multiple facial fractures from kicks to the face and head and other injuries consistent with a violent assault.

His partially concealed body was found later that morning dumped behind refuse binds at the end of the lane. The snack box he had bought from the takeaway was found lying underneath him. The pub takings were never recovered.

After the verdict was delivered, Mr Jim Pyper said his brother had died a savage death. "My brother was that badly mutilated, the family wasn't allowed to identify his body. His face was kicked in," he said. "I would have been disappointed if only one was found guilty because they were both involved, they were both there. I don't fell a victory over anyone because whatever happens, Noel cannot be brought back. But I do feel that justice has been done."