A FORMER ‘central figure’ in the Keane-Collopy gang has been granted bail on nearly €5,000, after being extradited back to Limerick from Bulgaria to face a charge of threatening to kill a State witness.
Vincent Collopy, aged 35, who has an address at St Ita’s Street, St Mary’s Park, was arrested by police in Bulgaria late last month on foot of a European arrest warrant, which was issued by the High Court in November 2011.
The defendant is accused of “intimidating or putting William Moran in fear with the intention of obstructing, perverting and interfering with the course of justice” at Island Road, Limerick on June 9, 2010.
He is also is charged with threatening to kill the 51-year-old on the same date.
Detective Sergeant Ronan McDonagh told Limerick District Court that Collopy was last seen by gardai on June 29, 2010 and had been living in Manchester for a time before moving to Bulgaria.
Det McDonagh said the preparation of the book of evidence is at an advanced stage and should be produced in court in the coming weeks.
He said CCTV footage seized by gardai will corroborate with the alleged victim’s evidence.
Solicitor John Devane said his client had lawfully left the State, prior to any charges being brought, and did not assume aliases or false identities in either England or Bulgaria.
The court heard that the witness, Mr Moran, has been under 24-hour garda protection, but his security arrangements are now under review on a monthly basis by a committee chaired by Chief Superintendent Dave Sheahan of Henry Street garda station.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly said he was “not satisfied that the State had established the necessary grounds to sustain the bail objections”, and said Mr Collopy enjoys the presumption of innocence and has the right to travel freely throughout the world.
Judge O’Kelly said Mr Collopy made no efforts to deceive the authorities in the UK or Bulgaria of his identity, and that there was no obligation for him to return to the jurisdiction for questioning. He also took into account that the alleged threat to the victim has “diminished”.
He was granted bail on his own bond of €5,000, one third of which is to lodged up front to the court, and an independent surety of €9,000, with one third also to be lodged.
The defendant’s mother Bernie gave an undertaking in court that she was prepared to provide the surety, and face losing the whole sum of €9,000 if there was any breach of his bail terms.
He has been ordered to sign on daily at Henry Street station between 9am and 9pm, reside at 5 St Senan Street, St Mary’s Park, have no contact with the alleged victim, stay away from the Rhebogue area where Mr Moran resides, and obey a curfew between 11pm and 7am.
Judge O’Kelly also outlined that he would be making an order to Ulster Bank, the holder of Bernie Collopy’s account, that her balance not be reduced below €6,000.
Collopy thanked the Judge as he left the court, and is due before the court again on June 17.