Brutal | 

Man jailed for role in 'cold-blooded' gun murder of 'big friendly giant' Thomas Farnan

Clondalkin man Thomas Farnan was shot in front of his partner when he opened the front door

Thomas Farnan was shot dead

Peter Doyle

A 25-year-old man who has spent a quarter of his life in custody was jailed yesterday for two-and-a-half years for his role in a "cold-blooded assassination" of a "big friendly giant".

Lorcan Merriman (25), of Lealand Close, Clondalkin, Dublin, pleaded guilty last year at the Central Criminal Court to disposing of the gun used to murder Thomas Farnan (37) on April 25, 2016.

Mr Farnan suffered nine gunshot wounds when he was shot six times in front of his partner, Elaine Heffernan, as he opened his door at Kilcronan Close, Clondalkin, at 11pm, while on the phone to his mother.

Merriman - who is currently serving five years for possession of a firearm - had been on trial for Mr Farnan's murder but the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) dropped the charge after the accused offered to plead guilty to preventing the apprehension of the murderer by disposing of the murder weapon, which has not been found.

Sentencing Merriman to four years with the final 18 months suspended, Mr Justice David Keane said the killing had been a "cold-blooded assassination" and Merriman's involvement in it arose out of "serious criminality" .

The fact that the gunman has yet to be caught meant that Merriman has successfully impeded the killer's apprehension and prosecution for six years, Mr Justice Keane added.

The judge also noted that Merriman has never shown any "remorse or contrition".

But Mr Justice Keane also acknowledged that the accused - who had been a promising soccer player in his youth before drifting into drug use and criminality around the time his parents separated - was now trying to turn his life around.

Merriman's efforts toward rehabilitation were reflected in the fact that he was now regarded as an enhanced prisoner with special duties, the judge noted.

Mr Justice Keane also expressed the court's condolences to the family of Mr Farnan.

Ivona Shortt, mother of Thomas Farnan who was murdered in April 2016

Mr Farnan's mother, Ivona Shortt, said at an earlier hearing on March 16 that her son's "brutal" murder would haunt her family forever.

In a victim impact statement, Ms Shortt described her son as a "big friendly giant" who was loved for his quick wit, kindness and generosity.

Describing the shooting as an "act of brutality that we could never imagine", she revealed she has spent years wondering who killed her son and why. She said she feared the killer might be in her community.

Neighbours said they saw a man running toward a walkway along the Royal Canal with a gun in his hand moments after hearing the series of gun blasts.

Det-Sgt O'Malley said Merriman became a person of interest in the investigation and gardaí searched his home.

Forensic investigators found gunshot residue on the clothes that matched residue from the discharged cartridges found at the scene.

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