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Anger as seriously-ill gangland murderer released and reunited with family

Derek McNamara was described in court by a senior garda at his 2006 trial as a central figure in Limerick’s underworld

Derek McNamara on his release from prison

Derek McNamara in 2006

Eamon DillonSunday World

Supporters of murder victim Martin O’Donoghue are furious his seriously-ill killer is free from custody after 17 years behind bars.

Derek McNamara’s recent release from Limerick Prison was raised with politicians and prison officials, according to Sunday World sources.

It comes the week after Logan Jackson — serving life for the murder of Kevin Sheehy — was transferred to a UK prison against the Sheehy family’s wishes.

McNamara — who was described in court by a senior garda at his 2006 trial as a central figure in Limerick’s underworld — signed himself out of hospital after being released from prison, sources said.

Derek McNamara in 2006

Word of his release was welcomed by some of McNamara’s supporters on social media when the news became public.

One man wrote: “Good to have him back with his family where he belongs, innocent man from beginning every1 [sic] knows that, at least he will die with his family now not in limerick prison.”

Photos of McNamara wrapped up warmly and wearing a woolly hat posing with relatives were also posted on social media.

He had been sentenced to life in 2006 at the Central Criminal Court for the murder of Martin O’Donoghue (35) in August 2004.

The father-of-four died after he was stabbed outside a bar known as The Pub on Broad Street in Limerick city.

After the guilty verdict was returned the court was told that McNamara had 22 previous convictions and the father-of-six was described as a “central figure in Limerick’s criminal underworld”.

“He is one of the most significant figures in criminality in this city,” said a senior garda officer, adding that the murder was not connected to the Limerick gang feud and was not drugs related.

Sunday World sources say the decision was made to allow McNamara’s temporary release last week as a result of his deteriorating health.

In an emotional victim impact statement at the trial, a sister of Mr O’Donoghue told how her family’s lives had been torn apart since her brother’s violent death.

“He was the life and soul of our family, a great son, father, partner and uncle,” she said.

“We can’t understand why my brother lost his life so violently as he was such a happy-go-lucky man who would never fight with anyone.”

It was the State’s case that although McNamara had not carried out the ‘physical act’ of stabbing Mr O’Donoghue, he was guilty of the murder.

Gardai later found the knife that was used in a hedge and a bloodstained hoodie that had been worn by the man who carried out the stabbing.

A bin also had the accused’s blood on it, which would allow the jury to decide that he was part of the “common design”, the court heard.

Relatives of Mr O’Donoghue wept when video footage of the victim being pushed around was shown in court.

McNamara later failed in an appeal against the conviction in which it was claimed the judge should have discharged the jury when pictures showing him in custody and chains were shown on RTE.

The appeal was dismissed on the grounds the jury was properly charged.

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