Notorious Dundon brothers to appeal threat to kill conviction
Notorious criminal brothers Wayne and John Dundon have moved to appeal their convictions for making threats to kill.
Wayne Dundon (37) of Lenihan Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, was found guilty by the Special Criminal Court in 2012 of threatening Alice Collins that he would kill or cause serious harm to her sons Gareth Collins and Jimmy Collins at Hyde Avenue, Limerick on September 30 2010.
The non-jury court also found him guilty of the intimidation of potential prosecution witnesses Alice and April Collins with the intention of obstructing the course of justice on the same occasion.
Wayne's younger brother John (33), with an address at Hyde Road, Limerick had also been found guilty of threatening to kill April Collins at Hyde Road on the weekend of April 3rd and 4th 2011.
Following their convictions, the three-judge Special Criminal Court sentenced Wayne to six years imprisonment and younger brother John to five-and-a-half years imprisonment on April 18, 2012.
The Court of Appeal reserved judgment on the brothers' appeals against conviction today.
However, much of the day's proceedings was taken up with preliminary motions to adduce additional evidence and to expand Wayne Dundon's grounds of appeal.
The Court of Appeal refused to allow the motions and stated that it will give full reasons for its decision at a later date.
Speaking on behalf of the three-judge court, Mr Justice Birmingham said the threshold for materiality, as established by case law, had not been met. Simply saying that arguments could be made, did not bring the matter far enough, he said.
Moving the motions, counsel for Wayne Dundon, Michael Bowman SC, submitted that his client's conviction was unsafe and unsatisfactory because the prosecution failed in their duty to disclose material which emerged in Wayne Dundon's subsequent Special Criminal Court trial for murder.
The evidence related to recorded telephone calls involving Alice Collins – the woman to whom Wayne Dundon issued threats – and her husband who was in prison at the time as well as material related to April Collins' driving offences.
Alice Collins' evidence at trial was that Wayne Dundon came to her home on November 30 'frothing at the mouth' in an agitated state. She stated he told her that 'our John is not happy and will hunt people down if his wife goes to jail', Mr Bowman submitted.
However, in the telephone call at least two days later, Mr Bowman submitted, Alice Collins was suggesting that “if Wayne Dundon comes to the house and 'does the bully to me' something will happen”.
Mr Bowman submitted that “the very thing she swears to” at trial is “the very thing that she is saying” in the telephone call “has not in actual fact happened”.
She also “confirms” in the call, Mr Bowman submitted, that she's not making notes of events but then swears in evidence at trial that notes she made were contemporaneous.
Mr Bowman submitted that April Collins “seemed to believe she could drive around Limerick with impunity” - a contention which was rejected by her under cross examinsation at trial.
She appeared before Limerick District Court on four separate occasions but no prosecuting garda brought to the court's attention the fact that she was “not only driving while disqualified but driving during the currency of a suspended sentence,” Mr Bowman claimed.
In Wayne Dundon's subsequent trial for murder, the Special Criminal Court said it was more likely that the gardaí made a decision not to bring her previous convictions to the attention of the judge, counsel said.
It was “proof positive”, Mr Bowman submitted, that April Collins was having “some sort of status or benefit conferred on her”.
Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Shane Costelloe SC, said he placed the contents of the telephone call in a “very different context”.
Mr Costelloe said Alice Collins was asked why her complaints were not made immediately. In response she said: “I was hoping it would all go away because you don't make a complaint against Wayne Dundon and expect to survive it”.
Mr Costelloe said Alice Collins did not say she was threatened directly because, as was the prosecution's case, Wayne Dundon didn't threaten her, he threatened her two boys.
Mr Costelloe said there simply was no CCTV footage of Alice Collins' home on the occasion the threats were made. Gardaí had asked for footage from the camera operators on the day of the incident and were told there wasn't any footage.
Moving to the substantive appeals, Mr Bowman said the Special Criminal Court “merely” came out with “a bald statement” to say it accepted the evidence of Alice Collins and did not in any way approach “anomalies” in her evidence.
He said a proper assessment of her evidence should have been undertaken in a case where the “margins were so fine”. If the Special Criminal Court found her to be credible and convincing, “why not say how that was so”, Mr Bowman submitted.
Counsel for John Dundon, Brian McCartney SC, submitted that the Special Criminal Court erred in failing to dismiss the case following an application for a direction.
Mr McCartney submitted that his client was convicted of an incident which lasted between four and six seconds. It depended wholly on the evidence of April Collins, who was an “evasive witness” and there were questions over her recognition of John Dundon on the occasion in question.
There was no indication from the Special Criminal Court “at all” on how these “various problems were confronted” by them, counsel submitted.
By Ruaidhrí Giblin