Gangster Wayne Whelan, who was shot at least three times in the head before his body was found in a burning car in west Dublin, was "lured to his death" by his trusted friend, the Central Criminal Court was told today.
Whelan's sister, Hazel Grainger, told the court in a victim impact statement that "the sickening part" was that her brother trusted Anthony Casserly, who had come to their family home that night when everyone was "frantically trying to locate Wayne".
Holding up a photo of her brother and Casserly to the court, she said: "This photo shows how Wayne trusted this man".
The court heard that Casserly had lured Whelan to his death under the pretence of inviting him to watch a soccer match between Ireland and Denmark.
Evidence was also given that the victim's remains were found in the passenger seat of the burning car and he was so badly burned that he had to be identified by DNA analysis.
Last October, Christopher Moran (52), who had been on trial at the time for murder at the Central Criminal Court, pleaded guilty to being the getaway driver for the fatal shooting. His co-accused Anthony Casserly (25) then pleaded guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of Wayne Whelan. Both pleas were accepted by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).
Whelan (42) was shot dead at Mount Andrew Rise in Lucan, Co Dublin on the evening of November 18, 2019 and the car in which he was sitting was set on fire with his remains inside.
Whelan was well known to gardai for his involvement in serious and organised crime for more than two decades and had been shot a number of times in a previous murder attempt two months before his death. Four men have been jailed for their roles in that attempted murder.
Moran and Casserly, both of Rowlagh Park, Clondalkin, went on trial last October having pleaded not guilty to Whelan's murder at Mount Andrew Rise on November 18th 2019. However, Mr Justice David Keane discharged the jury after Shane Costelloe SC for the DPP indicated that pleas to lesser charges would be accepted by the State.
Moran pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 7 (2) of the Criminal Law Act 1997 for impeding the apprehension of an offender. His indictment states that he acted as a getaway driver in the murder of Wayne Whelan.
Casserly pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 that he, with knowledge of the existence of a criminal organisation, participated in or contributed to the murder.
At the defendants' sentence hearing today, a victim impact statement was read to the court by Whelan's sister, Hazel Grainger, who said that she never thought she would be in court talking about her brother in the "past tense" and described it as "utterly devastating".
Ms Grainger said her brother, who was extremely generous and a loyal person, was robbed from their family in "such a horrendous way". "He would give you the shirt off his back," she added. She said Wayne wanted his family around him all the time.
She continued: "We are such a close-knit family and we did absolutely everything together. Wayne had a big circle of friends that he treated like a family, they ranged from all ages".
The "sickening part of this", Ms Grainger said, is that Casserly became "one of those friends" and that Wayne had brought him into their family.
She added: "Wayne also had family outings with this man so when Wayne said he was going to watch a football game with Anto it was not unusual".
"He was taken from all of us in a horrendous way, and we couldn't even say goodbye, his lifeless body set on fire. We feel absolutely robbed and will never get over this heartache".
Mr Justice Keane remanded Moran in custody to April 25th, when a probation report will be produced and he will be given an opportunity to adduce further medical evidence. Casserly will be sentenced on January 31th.