| 9.3°C Dublin

Sentence hearing Sister of murdered criminal Wayne Whelan says he 'trusted' pal who lured him to his death

"We feel absolutely robbed and will never get over this heartache".


Wayne Whelan had survived a previous murder attempt

Wayne Whelan had survived a previous murder attempt

Wayne Whelan had survived a previous murder attempt

Gangster Wayne Whelan, who was shot at least three times in the head before his body was found in a burning car in west Dublin, was "lured to his death" by his trusted friend, the Central Criminal Court heard

Whelan's sister, Hazel Grainger, told the court in a victim impact statement that "the sickening part" was that her brother trusted Anthony Casserly, who had come to their family home that night when everyone was "frantically trying to locate Wayne".

Holding up a photo of her brother and Casserly to the court, she said: "This photo shows how Wayne trusted this man".

The court heard that Casserly had lured Whelan to his death under the pretence of inviting him to watch a soccer match between Ireland and Denmark.

Evidence was also given that the victim's remains were found in the passenger seat of the burning car and he was so badly burned that he had to be identified by DNA analysis.

Last October, Christopher Moran (52), who had been on trial at the time for murder at the Central Criminal Court, pleaded guilty to being the getaway driver for the fatal shooting. His co-accused Anthony Casserly (25) then pleaded guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of Wayne Whelan. Both pleas were accepted by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

Whelan (42) was shot dead at Mount Andrew Rise in Lucan, Co Dublin on the evening of November 18, 2019 and the car in which he was sitting was set on fire with his remains inside. Whelan was well known to gardai for his involvement in serious and organised crime for more than two decades and had been shot a number of times in a previous murder attempt two months before his death. Four men have been jailed for their roles in that attempted murder.

Moran and Casserly, both of Rowlagh Park, Clondalkin, went on trial last October having pleaded not guilty to Whelan's murder at Mount Andrew Rise on 18 November 2019. However, Mr Justice David Keane discharged the jury after Shane Costelloe SC for the DPP indicated that pleas to lesser charges would be accepted by the State.

Moran pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 7(2) of the Criminal Law Act 1997 for impeding the apprehension of an offender. His indictment states that he acted as a getaway driver in the murder of Wayne Whelan.

Casserly pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 that he, with knowledge of the existence of a criminal organisation, participated in or contributed to the murder.

At the defendants' sentence hearing today, a victim impact statement was read to the court by Whelan's sister, Hazel Grainger, who said that she never thought she would be in court talking about her brother in the "past tense" and described it as "utterly devastating".

The witness said her brother was a family man, son, father, brother, husband, grandfather, grandson, nephew and most of all a friend. She said he was "the apple of my nan's eye", the first born baby boy to her parents and also the first grandchild. "He was absolutely doted on by the whole family and idolised all of us. He made everyone feel so special, valued and could talk about most things," she said.

Ms Grainger said her brother, who was extremely generous and a loyal person, was robbed from their family in "such a horrendous way". "He would give you the shirt off his back," she added. She said Wayne wanted his family around him all the time.


Anthony Casserly. Photo: Collins Agency

Anthony Casserly. Photo: Collins Agency

Anthony Casserly. Photo: Collins Agency

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

The "sickening part of this", Ms Grainger said, is that Casserly became "one of those friends" and that Wayne had brought him into their family. Holding up a photo of her brother and Casserly to the court, she said: "This photo shows how Wayne trusted this man".

She added: "Wayne also had family outings with this man so when Wayne said he was going to watch a football game with Anto it was not unusual".

"He was taken from all of us in a horrendous way and we couldn't even say goodbye, his lifeless body set on fire. We feel absolutely robbed and will never get over this heartache".

On November 18, she said, "news broke" that a man was found in a burning car. "Anto was one of the many people who came into our family home that night as everyone was frantically trying to locate Wayne. Rumours spread that Wayne was in the car. My mam and dad were watching the news when it was discovered that a car was burnt with a person inside, both said to each other we pity that poor family," she said.

Referring to her brother's funeral, Ms Grainger said there was a closed coffin and she is heartbroken at the thought of what her brother's body looked like. "Anto and his father came to pay his respects, he has absolutely no respect for us. It is so cold-hearted knowing what he was involved in. There are absolutely no winners here, we are robbed of Wayne. We are haunted by the fact that he was left alone, burning in a car. My mam and dad were robbed of their baby boy; no parent should ever have to lose a child".


Christopher Moran. Photo: Collins Agency

Christopher Moran. Photo: Collins Agency

Christopher Moran. Photo: Collins Agency

At today's sentencing hearing, Detective Superintendent Mark O'Neill detailed the background to the incident, telling prosecution counsel Shane Costelloe SC that Casserly and Whelan were known to each other and were friends or "apparently friends right up to the point that" Whelan was murdered.

Det Supt O'Neill told the court that Moran, who also lived in the Clondalkin area or occasionally in Kilmainham, was the uncle of Casserly. "They had a familiar relationship," he said.

Outlining the events that led up to the incident, Mr Costelloe said that Whelan was the subject of a "very serious attempted murder effort" on September 4 2019, when he was shot up to 11 times but survived his wounds. He was then hospitalised and had only recently returned to live in his family home.

Det Supt O'Neill said that this highlighted to the investigation team that Whelan was "safety conscious" of his movements and had only associated with people that he knew up to the time of his death.

Mr Costelloe recounted the manner in which Whelan was "lured to his death" and said that the deceased was sitting next to his wife Barbara Harmon, when he received a phone call from Casserly that day, inviting him to go to the pub to watch the Ireland-Denmark soccer match.

Referring to CCTV footage which was shown to the court, Det Supt O'Neill said a dark-coloured Toyota Corolla, which was involved in the murder of Whelan, was purchased at a Circle K garage on November 13 2019. The court heard that at least one other person was involved in this enterprise.


Victim Wayne Whelan

Victim Wayne Whelan

Victim Wayne Whelan

The CCTV footage showed the Toyota Corolla parked up in Mount Andrew estate in Lucan after 5.50pm on November 17. This was the car which Whelan got into when he was driven away to his death on the following evening, said the witness.

CCTV footage also showed a white Volkswagen Golf parked up at Rowlagh Park in Clondalkin at 4.50pm on November 18, where Casserly can be seen getting out of the vehicle and walking into his house.

Gardai learned the last call Whelan received before leaving his house that night was from a number associated with Casserly.

When Casserly was first interviewed by gardai, he told them that he remained at home for the duration of the match from 5pm. However, the witness said the court would see from subsequent pieces of CCTV footage that Casserly was not at home that night.

CCTV footage showed the Volkswagen Golf entering the Mount Andrew estate and driving towards Mount Andrew Court at 7.21pm that evening.

At 7.33pm, Whelan is seen walking from his residence at Griffeen Park towards the Toyota Corolla car and getting into the front passenger seat.

The Toyota Corolla is burned out at Mount Andrew estate at 7.42pm and the Volkswagen Golf is seen leaving Mount Andrew estate a minute after the Toyota Corolla is set alight. The first call is made to emergency services at 7.45pm.

The Toyota Corolla was almost entirely destroyed and was "practically unrecognisable" as it is very extensively damaged, the court heard.

Mr Costelloe said that it became apparent that someone was in the passenger seat of the car when responders arrived at the scene. "They had to cut asunder the car in order to remove the deceased's body," he said.

Under cross-examination, Det Insp O'Neill agreed with Michael Bowman SC, for Casserly, that text messages from him in the early hours of the morning on November 16 indicated that he felt under pressure to get involved in this incident. One text message said: "I just want to be at peace. It's never going to end. I'll end up doing life. It's just horrible". Another said: "Mate I can't even say the situation I'm in. I had no choice, It will click when you see it. I'm sorry for everything pal. I've turned into a scumbag, it's not me mate".

The witness also agreed with Ronan Prendergast BL, for Moran, that there was no direct contact between his client and the deceased.

Mr Bowman said that Casserly had effectively "lured" Whelan to his death and this had to be viewed as an aggravating factor due to the relationship between the parties. In mitigation, the barrister said that the accused had indicated in his text messages that this was clearly not a "scheme of his making" and he was being forced to do something, which he said he just could not do.

Mr Justice Keane remanded Moran in custody to April 25, when a probation report will be produced and he will be given an opportunity to adduce further medical evidence. Casserly will be sentenced on January 31.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Top Videos