'Slash-hook' Collopy loses appeal against murder conviction
A man jailed for life for the murder of a young Limerick carpenter in 2009 has had his appeal against conviction dismissed on all grounds.
Kenneth 'Slash-hook' Collopy (25), of Killonan, Ballysimon, in Limerick had pleaded not guilty to the murder of 25-year-old Daniel Fitzgerald who was shot in the head and leg as he left his uncle's mobile home in Ballysimon on December 8, 2009.
The Central Criminal Court trial heard that Mr Fitzgerald had been mistakenly shot by Collopy who fired at a number of caravans in what he perceived as revenge for an arson attack on his mother's van. The victim was described as being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Collopy admitted killing Mr Fitzgerald but claimed he intended only to fire shots at the mobile home, that it was dark at the time and that he was unaware the victim or anyone else was in front of or near the home.
He was unanimously found guilty by a jury of Mr Fitzgerald's murder and was given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Barry White on on March 29, 2011.
Collopy's barrister, Michael Bowman SC, contended in the Court of Appeal that the jury's verdict was perverse on a number of grounds.
Earlier that night, Collopy had met with a number of men including Christopher Mulqueen and David Bussoli and the three had driven to the location of the attack. Mr Bussoli claimed in the witness box to have remembered nothing of the evening so a video recording of his garda statement was played to the jury.
Dismissing his appeal on all grounds today, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said the trial judge was correct to play Mr Bussoli's video recorded statement. The trial judge made his decision in accordance with the legislation having determined that it was made voluntarily and was reliable.
On the question of whether the jury ought to have been given an accomplice warning, Mr Justice Mahon said the trial judge was entitled to take the view that neither Mr Bussoli nor Mr Mulqueen were accomplices.
Although they were with Collopy on the night in question, there was little to suggest they could be viewed in that light, the judge said.
The trial judge's directions to the jury on recklessness and intent was comprehensive, Mr Justice Mahon said. Indeed, it was difficult to comprehend how more clearly these concepts could have been explained to the jury, he added.
The facts were reasonably straightforward. It was not a difficult case, the judge said, and was made easier by Collopy's acknowledgment that he had unlawfully killed Mr Fitzgerald.
It was a matter for the jury to decide whether Mr Fitzgerald was the unintended victim of a reckless attack or whether there was an intention to kill or cause serious injury, Mr Justice Mahon said.
Dismissing the appeal on all grounds, Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, said the jury's verdict was not perverse.
Collopy made no reaction when the decision was delivered. He was lead away to continue serving his life sentence for murder.
By Ruadhri Giblin