A file photograph of Wayne Dundon
Notorious Limerick criminal Wayne Dundon has opened an appeal against his conviction for the murder of innocent businessman Roy Collins almost eight years ago.
Wayne Dundon, aged 39, of Lenihan Avenue, Prospect and Nathan Killeen, aged 27, of Hyde Road, Prospect had pleaded not guilty at the non-jury Special Criminal Court to the murder of Mr Collins at the Coin Castle amusements arcade, Roxboro on April 9, 2009.
The 35-year-old father of two, who was engaged to be married, died in hospital a short time after he was shot.
In July 2014, the three-judge Special Criminal Court found Wayne Dundon had ordered the murder from prison and that Killeen was the getaway driver for the gunman, James Dillon.
Mr Collins’ father, Steve Collins, was believed to have been the intended target of the murder, due to his involvement in a previous successful prosecution against Dundon for a threat to kill.
Following a 29-day trial, Wayne Dundon and Killeen were found guilty of the murder.
Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley, presiding, spent almost two hours outlining the three-judge court's reasons before delivering its verdict.
Accordingly, Wayne Dundon and Killeen were given mandatory life sentences.
Opening an appeal against conviction this Monday Dundon's barrister, Remy Farrell SC, said the Special Criminal Court's judgment failed to engage in an analysis of the controversies in the case, failed to deal with specific inconsistencies in accounts given by prosecution witnesses and failed to deal with specific factual issues.
Evidence against Dundon came from witness testimony in the trial, with a number of former associates of Dundon and Killeen testifying against them.
These were siblings Gareth Keogh-Collins, Lisa Collins and April Collins (no relation to Roy Collins) along with Dundon’s cousins, Christopher McCarthy and Anthony 'Noddy' McCarthy.
Central to the defence's case, Mr Farrell said, was clear and explicit evidence of collusion between 'Noddy' McCarthy and other witnesses.
But the trial court simply asserted, he said, that it had decided to rely on the uncorroborated testimony of 'Noddy' McCarthy without indicating how the controversies had been resolved.
He said 'Noddy' McCarthy measured up very poorly when one considered an Innocence Canada report on “jail house informers”. It was very easy to make an assertion but virtually impossible to disprove.
The approach of the Special Criminal Court on this issue was “truly startling”, he said, because it suggested that, while this was interesting, the trial court would not consider it in the absence of evidence.
The trial court seemed to think it was up to the defence to establish how the Canadian judicial system treated jail house informers, he said.
Mr Farrell said an appeal court would have no difficulty quashing a decision of the Refugee Appeal's Tribunal, for example, if that body had identified a whole series of controversies and failed to grapple with them.
Mr Farrell said he took issue with the Special Criminal Court's treatment of prosecution witnesses as not being accomplices in law.
He alleged that they were chargeable persons arising out of the same set of facts. It was patent on the evidence that “each and every one of them” committed the offence of withholding information, he alleged.
He said the McCarthy and Collins families had been engaged in discussions amongst themselves about what benefits were going to be “reaped” and the trial court's judgment was “manifestly defective” in failing to deal with any of those issues.
Mr Farrell said the defence applied for a direction to find his client not guilty on the substantive issue as well as on the lack of a proper Garda investigation. It was notable, he said, that the court never dealt with the latter application.
Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Michael O'Higgins SC, said Dundon's lawyers had made a lot of points but most of them simply did not “stack up”.
Mr O'Higgins said the case was brought on the basis that 'Noddy' McCarthy heard Wayne Dundon in a prison cell across the corridor threatening James Dillon and commanding him to do something over a phone.
If that call was proved to be a direction to murder a member of the Collins family then the case came down to a “very narrow” issue – whether 'Noddy' McCarthy was telling the truth.
Mr O'Higgins said the Special Criminal Court summarised the witness' testimony in its judgment “warts and all”.
Mr Farrell was submitting, he said, that there was a bit missing in the middle about why the court ignored the warts.
It was simply not sustainable for Wayne Dundon to claim, when looking at the judgment, that he did not know how he found himself in this position, Mr O'Higgins said.
He said the Special Criminal Court believed 'Noddy' McCarthy as it was entitled to do.
Mr O'Higgins will continue making submissions before Mr Justice George Birmingham, Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards on Tuesday.