“Stop. Please don’t do this. I have a family"... The last words of a veteran gangster
Crime godfather Eamon Kelly pleaded for his life seconds before Real IRA assassin Sean Connolly gunned him down outside his home.
“Stop. Please don’t do this. I have a family,” were the last words the veteran gangster spoke as his life of crime finally caught up with him.
Connolly (35), of Bernard Curtis House, Bluebell, Dublin, changed his plea to guilty on Tuesday just as his trial for murder was about to get underway.
Today a Sunday World investigation pieces together the last terrifying moments of gangland fixer Kelly’s life to reveal the chilling reality of what happens when gangland violence explodes on a suburban street in broad daylight.
Statements from sources and eyewitnesses reveal how onlookers saw Kelly beg for his life before he was shot dead by Connolly.
One passerby was standing less than 10 feet from Kelly (65), when he was murdered on Furry Park Road in Killester, north Dublin, on December 4, 2012.
“Stop. Please don’t do this. I have a family,”
It was shortly before 4pm on the dark winter evening and Kelly was on his way home from a nearby bookmakers which he regularly frequented.
He was a creature of habit and had spent the morning in the bookies before returning home for lunch and heading back again in the afternoon.
He was just 70 yards from his home when he spotted his killer. He tried to run, but cracked ribs sustained in a previous fall and the fact he was more than 30 years older than the gunman meant there was little chance of escape.
Nearby, an eyewitness was watching as the horrific events unfolded. The witness heard a bang and saw Kelly running.
Sources revealed what was said: “I just froze and thought ‘what’s happening here?’ I hid behind a tree to see what was going on.
“Then I saw another man come out of the lane and pull a gun out of his pocket.
“Kelly turned around and shouted: ‘Stop. Please don’t. I have a family.’ Then the man shot him a number of times.
“I heard him beg for his life before he was shot. I wouldn’t want anyone in the world to see what I have.”
Kelly was hit four times, causing fatal damage to his vital organs. Three bullets passed through him and a fourth would be found in his body during the post-mortem.
“I saw him fall to the ground and then the man started to turn around and walk towards me, so I ran and hid.
“I saw the back of the killer, but we were never face to face. He may have seen the back of me, but we never made eye contact. I knew there was a driver, but I didn’t see him at all.
“When I saw Kelly it looked like he had seen them and was running trying to get away. I was absolutely terrified.”
The witness ran and alerted neighbours before returning back to Kelly.
“He was lying there covered in blood. It was a real nightmare,” the witness recounted.
Gardai had yet to arrive as neighbours gathered around Kelly’s lifeless remains.
A nearby school was just finishing and neighbours huddled around the body to prevent the kids from seeing what had happened.
Around the same time, Detective Garda Aine Ní Catháin and Detective Garda Brian Maher were responding to reports that men were seeing running near Clontarf Cricket Club. Det Garda Ní Catháin arrested Sean Connolly as he walked towards Clontarf Castle.
There was firearm residue on him, which was later found to match eight spent 9mm cartridges found at the murder scene.
Accelerant on his shoes would match that used to burn out a black Lexus car used in the killing. Connolly made admissions to gardai after his arrest.
While Connolly was languishing in his cell, witnesses were struggling to come to terms with the trauma of seeing somebody executed in front of them
One told how it was a living hell in the weeks after the shooting and doctors prescribed pills to help sleep.
“Nobody should have to see anything like that, but especially not kids. It feels like a movie or a TV situation but I have to accept it happened.”
Senior investigating garda Detective Inspector Paul Scott said gardai warned Kelly his life was in danger.
“We were satisfied from the investigation that this was a highly-professional operation carried out by the IRA,” said Det Insp Scott. “The message was passed on to Connolly for the shooting to be carried out.”
Sources believe Connolly pleaded guilty as he did not want statements he made to gardai following his arrest being read out in court.
It is understood Connolly, the leader of a south Dublin RIRA unit, broke the unwritten rule of admitting his crimes to gardai.
Republicans also suspected he compromised other members while being interviewed.
Following his interview, gardai were so concerned for his welfare he was placed on suicide watch while in custody. He was then placed in protective custody in prison after fellow republicans suspected Connolly of being an informer.
However, he convinced his comrades he wasn’t a rat and is now back on the republican wing in Portlaoise Prison.
Sources say Kelly was targeted by the IRA in a show of strength in the wake of Alan Ryan’s murder. He was previously targeted by Ryan’s mob, who had been demanding extortion payments from him, but survived when the hitman’s gun jammed.
A power struggle took place in RIRA following Ryan’s death and Connolly was ordered to carry out the shooting by the new leadership.
They saw Kelly as an easy target, whose killing would show the organisation was still willing to take on gangland criminals.
Kelly was a veteran criminal who was involved in armed robberies, drug importation, extortion and various other criminal rackets.
He had links to the Official IRA in the 1970s and 1980s, but never joined the organisation.
The scene of the shooting in Killester, Dublin
Kelly had close links with a number of well-known underworld figures including Eamon ‘the Don’ Dunne, Martin ‘Marlo’ Hyland, Dessie O’Hare, Mark Farrelly, Jimmy Edgeworth, Troy Jordan, Derek McLoughlin and Brian O’Reilly.
His brother Matthew paid almost €4million in unpaid taxes to the Criminal Assets Bureau in 2002, while his nephew, also named Matthew Kelly, is the leader of the Irish chapter of the notorious Hell’s Angels biker gang.
Eamon Kelly also had links to the criminal known as ‘Mr Big’ who ordered Alan Ryan’s murder.
However, Kelly is not believed to have been involved in Ryan’s killing.
Despite his contacts book reading like a who’s who of gangland Ireland no-one ever sought revenge for his death.