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Courts

Father who gave false alibi for son in murder investigation given suspended sentence

Mark Casserly told gardaí investigating the fatal shooting of Wayne Whelan that his son, Anthony Casserly, was at home at the time of the murder.

A MAN HAS been handed a five-year suspended prison sentence for providing his son, who assisted in the murder of his friend, with a false alibi.

Mark Casserly (49) told gardaí investigating the fatal shooting of Wayne Whelan (42) on 18 November 2019, that his son, Anthony Casserly, was at home at the time of the murder.

Anthony Casserly (26) of Rowlagh Park, Clondalkin, was sentenced in January 2022 to seven years in prison for assisting in the murder of Whelan.

Whelan was in the front of a car at Mount Andrew Rise in Lucan, Co Dublin, when a gunman who had been sitting in the backseat shot him at least three times in the back of the head.

The car was set on fire, and Whelan’s remains were later found in the passenger seat. He was so badly burned that he had to be identified using DNA analysis.

Casserly Sr, also of Rowlagh Park, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to giving a false account of the movement of a suspect during the murder investigation in December 2019.

Imposing sentence yesterday, Judge Pauline Codd said it is the “obligation of every citizen to assist” gardaí in an investigation. She noted that Casserly Sr had “motivation to seek to assist his son”; however, his actions were in the “wrong manner and serious in the context of the crime under investigation”.

Judge Codd said Casserly Sr “ought to have stood up and done the proper thing by assisting the gardai,” but instead, he perverted the course of justice.

She handed him a five-year prison sentence suspended in full on strict conditions.

Detective Garda Marcus Roantree told Maddie Grant BL, prosecuting, that Casserly Sr gave two separate statements to gardaí in which he said his son Anthony was at home on 18 November 2019, between the hours of 7pm and 9pm.

Casserly Sr made a statement on 5 December 2019, in which he said he was at home watching a football match, and his son was also at home. His son was living with his partner in a converted shed at the back of the family property at that time.

In a second statement on 12 December, Casserly told gardaí that his son was in and out of the house. He also said the family ordered takeaway, which his son paid for and then took to the shed.

Casserly Sr told gardaí that his son would have had to walk past him and through the house to leave.

Casserly Sr gave his phone number and a number for his son to gardaí. Analysis showed he had called another number associated with his son, but the defendant said he didn’t recognise this number.

CCTV from the area was analysed as part of the murder investigation and contradicted Casserly Sr’s statement, as footage showed his son leaving the family home in a VW Golf during the relevant time period.

The defendant was arrested in February 2020 and interviewed four times, but nothing of evidential value was obtained.

Casserly Sr has a number of previous convictions, including two for false imprisonment and one for aggravated burglary. He has not come to garda attention since this incident.

The court heard Casserly Jr was initially charged with murder but pleaded guilty during the trial to a lesser charge, being an offence under Section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, that he facilitated the murder.

Roantree agreed with Seamus Clarke SC, defending, that Casserly Jr’s partner gave a statement to gardaí on 19 November, and his client’s statements appeared to be backing hers up.

It was further agreed that his client’s guilty plea was of assistance to the prosecution.

Clarke noted that Casserly Jr’s partner first gave a statement with a “false narrative” before his client made his two statements to gardaí.

He said his client made an “attempt to help his son” rather than assisting gardai with their investigation.

His client has three children and one grandchild, for whom he has taken on the role of father figure while his son is in custody.

Casserly Sr has a number of health issues and is not currently working due to an injury sustained in a workplace accident. A number of documents were handed to the court on his behalf.

His client is caring for his wife, who has serious health conditions and was present in court.

Judge Pauline Codd said it is an aggravating feature of the case that Casserly Sr was “motivated” to give a misleading and false account to gardaí in order to assist his son.

She said the court accepts that his son’s partner gave a “false alibi” to gardaí first, and there “may be an element of support for her false alibi” in the defendant’s actions.

Judge Codd commended gardaí for untangling the false statement given by Casserly Sr during the investigation.

Lacey O’Connor (30) was handed an 18-month prison sentence suspended for four years in June 2022 at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after pleading guilty to giving a false account of the movement of a suspect during the murder investigation in November 2019.

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Author
Eimear Dodd and Isabel Hayes