Man accused of murder pleads guilty to facilitating criminal organisation in carrying out offence

Alison O’Riordan

A man who was on trial accused of murdering Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan in the driveway of his Dublin home has pleaded guilty to facilitating a criminal organisation in carrying out the offence.

Jason Keating (27), of Lower Main Street, Rush, Co Dublin admitted today to participating in or contributing to activity intending to facilitate the commission by a criminal organisation or any of its members of a serious offence, namely the murder of Mr Kirwan (62) at St Ronan’s Drive, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 between November 8 and December 22 ,2016, both dates inclusive.

Keating had originally pleaded not guilty at the non-jury Special Criminal Court to the murder of Mr Kirwan on October 2 and the trial has been underway since that date.

State Solicitor Michael O’Donovan this morning told the three-judge court that the DPP had directed that Keating be brought before the court and charged with the offence of facilitating the commission by a criminal organisation or any of its members of a serious offence contrary to Section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006.

Detective Sergeant Damien Gannon, from Lucan Garda Station, gave evidence that he met Keating this morning and handed him a copy of the charge sheet, explaining the charge to him.

When the registrar put the new count to Keating and asked him how he was pleading, he replied: “Guilty”.

This is believed to be the second time a person has been convicted for this offence under the organised crime legislation brought in in 2006.

Paul Greene SC, prosecuting, asked the court that a “nolle prosequi” be entered on the charge of murder at the sentencing hearing next month. This means the State will not be proceeding with the prosecution in relation to the count of murder.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the “first instance” of this offence was dealt with by the court last Monday. He told counsel for both sides that the court would need to know at the sentence hearing what was offered “in terms of assistance” by Keating and what was the defendant’s state of mind in relation to the offence that actually took place.

“If you look at the sentence from Monday you will see what was required to assist us in the exercise,” he added.

Martin Aylmer (31), of Casino Park, Marino, Dublin 3 was sentenced last Monday to three years and nine months for helping a criminal organisation murder Dublin bar manager, Michael Barr (35) at the Sunset House, Summerhill Parade, Dublin 1 on April 25 2016.

The judge said today that the law of homicide in this country as it is currently structured is “inflexible”, adding that it was long overdue for reform in its substance and in its mandatory sentencing.

This new charge is most useful in cases where people play parts which fall short of actually pulling the trigger. It provides for some flexibility but also for serious penalties.

"This has advantages for both sides of the case,” he remarked.

Mr Kirwan was sitting in his new car, a Ford Mondeo, when a gunman shot him six times with a Makarov handgun which was later recovered at the scene.

The 62-year-old, a “long-time” friend of Gerry “the Monk” Hutch, suffered eight gunshot wounds in total to his head, right arm, chest and abdomen.

The court has heard that the murder of Mr Kirwan arose from a "notorious feud" between two criminal factions but the deceased had no connection with either side.

The deceased’s partner, Bernadette Roe, was in the passenger seat of his car at the time of the attack. They had just returned from a Christmas lunch in a restaurant in Crumlin with Ms Roe’s daughter.

It was the prosecution's case that a 'Gotek7’ tracking device was put under Mr Kirwan's car in the weeks leading up to his killing and this could be linked to Keating.

The getaway vehicle, a white Peugeot van, was later found on fire at the rear of Neilstown Shopping Centre in Clondalkin, just a minute’s drive from St Ronan’s Drive.

Mr Justice Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Sinead Ni Chualachain and Judge Cormac Dunne, remanded Keating in custody until November 22, when he will be sentenced.

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