Sinead Connolly had told the court how she had known Paul Mooney since she was in primary school
At the Central Criminal Court tonight, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said that Paul Mooney (35), with an address at Ring Street, Inchicore, Dublin 8, had been willing to dispose of the gun without any question after the shooting that left Sinead Connolly with “the most catastrophic injuries”.
Mooney pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition, to wit, a G9A Grand Power semi-automatic handgun and Luger Barnaul ammunition, in such circumstances as to give rise to a reasonable inference that he had not got it in his possession for a lawful purpose, at Bernard Curtis House, Bluebell in Dublin 12 on March 6, 2021.
Ms Connolly was left paralysed after she was shot on that date by Dean McCarthy (33), with an address at Bluebell, who was jailed for 15 years for Ms Connolly's attempted murder.
A co-accused, Joseph Byrne (33), La Touche Road, Bluebell, Dublin 12, was jailed for nine-and-a-half years for possession of a G9A Grand Power semi-automatic handgun with intent to endanger life.
In the sentencing of Paul Mooney, Garda Paul Carroll confirmed to counsel for the prosecution, Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, that Ms Connolly had been the subject of threats from Dean McCarthy for months before the shooting.
He said that McCarthy had grabbed her by the throat, spat in her face and called her derogatory names. Gda Carroll said that some of this occurred in front of Ms Connolly’s daughter, who was seven at the time.
Gda Carroll gave further evidence that McCarthy told Ms Connolly that he would leave her in “a body bag” and Ms Connolly was very afraid.
He said that on March 6, 2021, McCarthy and Joseph Byrne were in McCarthy’s flat when the firearm was discharged and McCarthy was shot in the stomach.
The two men then went to Ms Connolly’s flat and kicked in the door, before McCarthy shot Ms Connolly. Ms Connolly fell onto the sofa and McCarthy shot her again, causing “catastrophic injuries”. Gda Carroll said Ms Connolly’s daughter and visitors to the flat were in the kitchen at the time and a number of further shots were fired, which hit the kitchen door area.
Gda Carroll said that Paul Mooney arrived on the stairwell outside Ms Connolly’s apartment and “appeared to be startled”. He said that McCarthy and Byrne made good their escape, with McCarthy leaving the gun on the stairwell.
Mooney then picked the gun up, concealed it in his pocket and walked down the stairs. The gun was subsequently found by gardaí in a communal bin near the flats.
When arrested, Mooney told gardaí he went to the flats to pay Dean McCarthy €50 that he owed him. He said that when McCarthy left the gun on the stairs, he shouted, “Take that and I’ll be back to see you later.”
Mooney also told gardaí that he, McCarthy and Ms Connolly had been friends for years.
Mooney had nine previous convictions.
Ms Lawlor told the court that Ms Connolly has been in full-time hospital care since the shooting. She was in intensive care due to multiple gunshot wounds and has been left paralysed and in need of a wheelchair for all mobility.
Ms Connolly gave a victim impact statement to the court, in which she said she has been left paralysed forever and dependent on pharmaceuticals and medical staff. She said that the bullets shattered her collarbone, broke her ribs, punctured her lung and shattered her spine.
She said that medical staff had told her these were “the most catastrophic injuries” they had ever seen.
She said that she was in a coma for 15 days, which caused tremendous grief and anxiety to her family.
“I have known Paul Mooney since primary school. He did not try to get help for me; his priority was getting rid of the gun,” said Ms Connolly.
Defence counsel, James Dwyer SC said that Mooney wished to offer an apology to Ms Connolly.
In passing sentence, Mr Justice McDermott said that Mooney was not involved directly in anything that happened to Ms Connolly, but he had been quite happy to dispose of the gun openly without hesitation and in broad daylight.
Setting the headline sentence at eight years, Mr Justice McDermott considered mitigating factors such as the accused’s expression of remorse, his assistance to the gardaí, and the fact that he has suffered symptoms of a psychological condition. The judge noted that Mooney had also received threats against his life due to this matter.
Imposing six years in prison, the judge suspended the last 12 months for two years on condition that Mooney keeps the peace, engages with a victim impact awareness programme and an alcohol and drug awareness programme, and follows all probation service directions.
The sentence was backdated to October 6, 2022.