NewsCrime Desk

Gangsters' molls come face to face with brutal side of partners' lives

April Collins
April Collins

THEY are the former gangsters’ molls who were pushed too far and proved to be their ex-partners’ Achilles’ heel.

When Dublin woman Rita Harling met Finglas milkman Brian Kenny in 1995, she thought he was an innocent charmer.

But soon she realised he was violent career-criminal who was delivering more than milk on his rounds.

The shed was always filled with stolen property and Rita soon realised how her man was involved with drugs gangs. “I often heard the names Shane Coates and Stephen Suggs [Westies gang leaders] mentioned. It was a well-known fact on the Northside that these two were trouble. 

"I also heard ‘Marlo’ Hyland being mentioned on one occasion. They were all in some way knitted in to the same drug gang. Cocaine was their drug of choice.”

Rita wrote a book about her horrific experiences at the hands of Kenny and how he violently attacked her throughout their relationship and how she prayed for the day he’d be caught.

She spent five years with Kenny, who beat her black and blue and tried to drown and suffocate her.

She described one attack that happened after an argument broke out while their children were in the car.

“They were scared and crying. Then Brian grabbed my hair and slammed my head into the dashboard a number of times. I tried to fend him off but he was too strong.

“My forehead hit the dash hard. I was lucky that he didn’t break my nose. I leaned back over the seat and tried to calm the kids. I remember looking at Brian as he continued with the journey. I felt repulsed by him.”

Rita said Kenny (below) “thought he was invincible”

“You could see that he craved power and notoriety. He admired notorious gangsters like Martin Cahill. He also loved The Sopranos and would never miss an episode. I think that Brian thought he was the Tony Soprano of Finglas – when really he was a weak little man who got off on other people’s misery.”

Rita left Kenny in 2002 and two years later he was involved in the gangland murder of Jonathan O’Reilly as he sat in a BMW outside Cloverhill Prison in a west Dublin drugs feud.

The Central Criminal Court heard Kenny and his pal Thomas Hinchon pulled up beside the car on a motorbike and fired a number of shots through the window. The pair were jailed for life for the killing.

Rita went on to co-found the Do or Die Foundation to help other battered wives and partners.

She also later sued Kenny in the Circuit Civil Court for a share of their house. He was also sued by Amanda Joyce, who he married after splitting with Harling, and his parents, who claim they met the mortgage repayments for years.

The three parties each ended up getting a 20 per cent share of the proceeds, while Kenny got 40 per cent.

Rita Harling

Limerick woman April Collins had seen up close exactly what went on with the notorious Dundon family who terrorised the Treaty City.

She had been going out with a key member of the gang since the age of 15 and the pair had three children together.

However, their relationship was far from perfect and she says she suffered from domestic abuse at his hands. When her then partner was serving a sentence in prison they had a serious row about bringing their children to visit him while he was behind bars.

“I’m not going to spend the rest of my f***ing life going up and down to jail to visit you,” she told him.

The row was central in bringing down the Dundons’ criminal empire after April broke up with her partner and agreed to give evidence against the family.

April testified against John and Wayne after they threatened to kill her. Along with her sister Lisa, she also gave evidence over the murder of innocent rugby player Shane Geoghe-gan, who was shot dead in a case of mistaken identity in Dooradoyle in November 2008.

April told how John Dundon was planning to kill a man called John ‘Pitchfork’ McNamara, who lived near Shane Geoghegan.

She said she witnessed Dundon order-ing gunman Barry Doyle to shoot McNamara less than two days before the murder of Mr Geoghegan.

Dundon told Doyle he had the car and gun ready. April said hours after the shooting, Dundon rang rival criminal Philip Collopy to mistakenly boast John McNamara was dead but panicked after learning the wrong man had been shot. She told the trial that her partner had previous-ly beaten her up and had once kept her in Spain for months after taking her passport.

“I dread these people,” she said. She added that she could have saved Mr Geoghegan’s life if she spoke out before the killing but feared she would have been killed.

Since leaving her former partner she started a relationship with Cratloe Woods rapist Thomas O’Neill, whom she married in February.

O’Neill was just 16 years old when he and a gang of pals were involved in a vicious gang rape in the woods. He has since amassed dozens of convictions and was recently released from prison after serving a three-year sentence for a vicious street robbery.

Deirdre Moran found out to her cost that going out with a gangster wasn’t as glamorous as she thought.

She had an on-off relationship with Sligo gangster Patrick Irwin for years, saying she was attracted by the money.

“There’s a lot of money to be made in it. There’s money getting thrown at you,” she said in an interview with RTE.

However, in 2008 she was asked to collect a package from Eamon Dunne’s gang in Dublin and transport it to Irwin’s gang in Sligo.

Gardai pulled her over as she made her way back and discovered a revolver.

Moran was sentenced to three years behind bars over the weapons and has since turned her back on crime.

“I’ve moved on so much I hate bringing it up,” she said