'Hard man' | 

Gun thug who shot Sinead Connolly three times in front of young daughter exposed

Sinead's sister Orla reveals gunman McCarthy 'comes from a good family. When his ma went out I would have babysat him'

Thug: Dean McCarthy

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

This is the first photograph of gun-wielding criminal Dean McCarthy who has pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of innocent mum-of-one Sinead Connolly.

Last Monday, McCarthy (32), of Bernard Curtis House, Bluebell, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the attempted murder of the mother-of-one in March of last year.

Speaking this week, Sinead's sister Orla told the Sunday World that McCarthy has already condemned her sibling to a "life sentence"

Sinead was shot three times in front of her young daughter Leah as she sat on her sofa at Bernard Curtis House apartments in Bluebell, Dublin 12, on March 6.

She suffered paralysis below the chest as a result of her injuries.

Brave: Sinead Connolly with her daughter Leah, who witnessed the shooting

McCarthy, who is in custody, only spoke at his brief arraignment to answer "guilty" when the charge of attempted murder was read to him by the registrar.

This week, Sinead's older sister Orla told Sunday World that, while McCarthy's plea means Sinead won't have to take the witness stand, she will never recover from her injuries.

"We're relieved that she won't have to take the stand, obviously, because she has already been through so much - the psychological and the physical trauma that she has endured over the past year," Orla said.

"But she will be giving a victim impact statement so she can tell her side of the story."

Gardaí at the Bernard Curtis House apartments in Bluebell, Dublin after the shooting

She added: "My mam says Sinead has been given a life sentence and will have to adjust to being in a wheelchair for the rest of her life."

His case was adjourned to April 8 for a sentence hearing to allow for the preparation of a probation report and a victim impact statement.

Orla revealed the impact that the shooting has had on all the family, including eight-year-old Leah.

"When Leah sees Sinead in the wheelchair she says it reminds her of what that man did to her mam.

"So, it has had an effect on all of us. And for me, seeing my ma trying to nurse Sinead back to health, that's what broke me.

"And Leah's screams that day, will forever be with me. We don't know what way Leah's going to grow up. She's only turning nine, in March. She said to Sinead, 'mammy, you were gurgling blood and the bubbles were coming out of your mouth'."

Sinead Connolly

Orla said she previously baby sat McCarthy.

"I don't have any emotion towards him, because he's nothing to me. He doesn't deserve a reaction from me, as he's only a coward.

"He comes from a good family," she said. "When his ma went out I would have babysat him. But that man I see today is no reflection of the kid I would have minded.

"He never really had a job growing up, but people around Bluebell kind of avoided him. He thought of himself as a hardman and he'd go around with a bulletproof vest on, starting fights with anyone who messed with his friends. But they all kind of laughed at him behind his back."

She adds: "Sinead says she remembers him, staring right at her. She told me, 'Orla, he walked over to me, and his eyes were fixated on me and nobody else.'

Sinead with daughter Leah

"The wound in her chest that still hasn't healed, shows just how close he was when he opened fire. It's chilling."

Orla said the day of the shooting will be forever etched in her mind.

"I got a phone call, about 1pm, and I flew down. I only live two blocks away but there were already loads of people there.

"I remember running up the stairs and hearing Leah screaming and seeing Sinead in the ambulance and I thought she was dead.

"The ambulance men and policemen were saying to me, 'you have to go, she's seriously injured'. I was in absolute disbelief.

Gardai at the scene of the shooting

She adds: "I rang my mam and she thought I was joking. I said, 'I've got Leah here with me in the car'.

"When we got to my ma she got into the car and asked Leah, 'what's wrong Leah?' And Leah said, 'he done it, next door. Dean shot my mam. I don't have anyone now', and she was screaming, screaming crying the whole time.

"We were later told by the doctors that she had 10 per cent chance. We didn't think she was going to make it.

"She had four blood transfusions and died twice on the table. The surgeon told her later that she was his miracle."

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