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Courts

John Dundon appeal against murder conviction to go ahead this month

Dundon was convicted of ordering the hit that led to the death of Shane Geoghegan.

OVER 15 YEARS after innocent rugby player Shane Geoghegan was shot dead in a case of mistaken identity, the Limerick gangster who ordered the hit, John Dundon, has been allocated a new legal team and will have his appeal against his murder conviction heard this month “come what may”.

Last month, Dundon was accused of engaging in a “cynical ploy” after he sacked his lawyers and asked for an adjournment of his appeal against the conviction.

Dundon told the Court of Appeal that he discharged his lawyers after discovering that they were unable to advance a ground of appeal that the appellant said had been identified in recent months. The three judges of the court granted an application for Dundon’s then lawyers to withdraw from the case.

Dundon said he did not want to go into detail about an additional ground of appeal but said it related to things that were not disclosed to him ahead of his trial and that he was told did not exist but he is now in a position to prove did exist.

Dundon said he had instructed his legal team to raise this ground of appeal but decided to discharge them when he claimed he was told they “hadn’t done it properly”.

Sean Guerin SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said Dundon was engaging in a “cynical ploy” and that he had used a similar tactic at his trial in 2013.

download (14) Shane Geoghegan.

New legal team

At the Court of Appeal today, solicitor Phelim O’Neill, instructing Morgan Shelley BL, applied to come on the record for Dundon and was told that the appeal hearing would go ahead on 22 April. Dundon was also granted free legal aid for his new team. Dundon spoke only to confirm to the judges that he wished to hire O’Neill.

Mr Justice John Edwards said the matter had been marked as peremptory against Dundon regarding the 22 April date. “The expectation is that it is to proceed on 22 April, come what may… and that’s the end of the matter,” said Mr Justice Edwards.

Mr Justice Edwards said motions for new grounds of appeal and sworn affidavits were to be completed in advance of 22 April and said the court “will expect total clarity on what is and is not being proceeded one week in advance of the hearing”.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said Dundon’s team also had to serve the State with any relevant documents “in sufficient time for the State to address it”.

“You have to move this week, really,” said Mr Justice McCarthy.

Rejected

Both the Special Criminal Court and the High Court had previously rejected Dundon’s bids to have his 2013 murder trial adjourned. However in June 2013, the Special Criminal Court ruled the murder trial should not proceed until the adjournment application came before the Supreme Court.

On that occasion, Dundon had appeared in the Special Criminal Court wearing only a pair of dark-coloured shorts, having been admitted to hospital after going on hunger strike for at least a week and refusing fluids for a number of days.

The trial was delayed until 2 July, 2013, when the opening day saw a gaunt, wheelchair-using Dundon taken to hospital for a head injury. He had earlier informed the court that he was illiterate in response to evidence that he had sacked his legal team and elected to represent himself. The trial eventually opened the next day.

At the last sitting of the Court of Appeal, Guerin said disclosure was carried out in full and that the Director of Public Prosecutions was “adamant” the State could meet any complaint regarding disclosure.

Guerin said the director is “anxious” to get on with the case and the deceased’s mother, who has attended every court date, “wants to see an end” to the matter.

Also at that hearing, Mr Justice McCarthy said Dundon had “gone through several sets of competent lawyers” and that the latest dismissal “must raise an issue of good faith”. Mr Justice Edwards said the court would “not entertain any further applications for adjournment barring exceptional and unforeseen circumstances.”

Conviction

Dundon (41) formerly of Hyde Road in Limerick, was convicted at the Special Criminal Court in 2013 of ordering the hit that killed the 28-year-old Mr Geoghegan near the victim’s home at Clonmore, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, Limerick, on 9 November, 2008. He is serving a life sentence.

Geoghegan played rugby for Garryowen in Limerick and had been watching an Ireland international game at a friend’s house before heading home shortly before 1am. He had just texted his girlfriend, Jenna Barry, to say he was on his way when Ms Barry heard shots being fired outside. Mr Geoghegan was shot five times with a Glock semi-automatic pistol. The fatal shot was to the back of the head.

It was the State’s case that Mr Geoghegan was the unintended victim of a shooting that was meant for another man and was ordered by John Dundon. Key prosecution witness April Collins gave evidence that John Dundon ordered gunman Barry Doyle to kill the other man.

Doyle (38) admitted during Garda interviews that he shot Mr Geoghegan in a case of mistaken identity.

However, Doyle, of Portland Row in Dublin 1, later pleaded not guilty at trial to the murder of Mr Geoghegan. He was found guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court and was given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan on 16 February, 2012.

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