Member of notorious Collopy clan jailed for witness intimidation

CourtsBy David Raleigh
Vincent Collopy
Vincent Collopy

A member of the notorious Collopy family from Limerick has been jailed for five years with the final two years suspended, for intimidating another "criminal" witness who had made a statement against two of his brothers.

Vincent Collopy, (36), St Mary's Park, pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Court to intimidating, threatening or putting in fear Willie Moran on June 9, 2010, with the intention of perverting the course of justice. A nolle prosequi was entered on a charge against Mr Collopy of threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Mr Moran, on the same date.

Mr Moran "was known as a criminal associate of the Collopy brothers" - who operated a drug gang in Limerick city - however both parties had "fallen out", the court heard.

The leaders of the Collopy gang, Brian and Kieran Collopy -- brothers of Vincent Collopy -- were last week jailed for a total of 16 years for selling heroin in Limerick. Philip

Collopy, another brother, shot himself dead in an accidental shooting at his home, in March 2009.

In 2011, Kieran Collopy and another brother, Damian, were each jailed for five years for threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Willie Moran, after alleging he owed €5,000 to their late brother Philip.

Outlining the background to the case against Vincent Collopy, judge Tom O'Donnell said Willie Moran and his wife Margaret, along with two of their young children, were travelling in their car on their way to attend the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics in Limerick, when Vincent Collopy appeared behind them in a van.

The court heard the van chased the Moran's car through the streets, and Vincent Collopy "made gun like gestures at them". Mr Collopy was heard shouting at Mr Moran: "Bang bang Willie, Willie bangs all day", and, "Ronan can't help you now".

The court heard "Ronan" referred to Sergeant Ronan McDonagh, Henry Street garda station, who was liaising with the Moran's about their security in the wake of having been threaten by Kieran and Damien Collopy.

"There was 24 hour Garda protection put on the family out of fears for their safety," John O'Sullivan, prosecuting, said. Mr Moran's children "who were aged five and ten years old at the time were extremely frightened by the subsequent car chase" involving Vincent Collopy, he added.

Mr O'Sullivan said the Moran's "are still in fear" of the accused and his family.

Vincent Collopy fled for Bulgaria but was extradited back to face charges in 2013.

Today judge O'Donnell described the intimidation of Mr Moran as "striking at the very heart of the justice system". "It was a cold, calculated, determined effort to intimidate the Morans and to pervert the course of justice."

Vincent Collopy and his younger brother Jonathan were jailed for three years in 2006 after been caught selling heroin and cocaine to undercover gardai in 2004.