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'no words' Mum says 'part of me died' after 'gentle giant' only child shot dead in gangland feud

"He was a victim of violence, not a perpetrator"

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Shot dead: John Gibson. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Shot dead: John Gibson. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Shot dead: John Gibson. Picture: Caroline Quinn

The mother of a “gentle giant” who was killed in a hail of bullets as result of feud between drugs gangs wept in court as she revealed how "a part of me died” when her “only child” was gunned down.

John Gibson was a 28-year-old father of two when he was shot five times by members of a rival gang at Citywest Shopping Centre in Dublin.

Matthew Bell (25), of Ambervale, in Cookstown, Dublin 24 has pleaded guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of Mr Gibson on September 18, 2017, intending to facilitate the activities of a criminal organisation.

Yesterday at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Gibson’s mother Tara Gibson fought back tears as described the “nightmare” she and her family has endured ever since they were told her son was dead.

Mrs Gibson said that there were “no words that can be put on paper” to describe the devastation that her family was feeling, adding that her only solace was knowing that her “gentle giant of a son, who was a kind and loving man, was in heaven right now, looking down on his two young children”.

“He was a victim of violence, not a perpetrator,” she said.

Mrs Gibson said that John Gibson had “hugged me and kissed me and told me he loved me” only two hours before she was told in a garda station her son was dead.

“That was the last time I seen my son alive, a memory I will treasure forever,” she said.

Mrs Gibson added that the next time she saw her son “he was laid out in the coffin with his head stapled together and bullet wounds in his chest, something no mother should have to see".

Describing his death as a living “nightmare”, Mrs Gibson added: “I constantly think about the last few minutes of his life and the fear he must have felt as he got out of his car and ran for his life.

“No parent should have to go through what I went through,” she continued. “A part of me died that day.”

Earlier, Detective Sergeant Seamus Palmer told Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, that Mr Gibson was shot as part of a gang feud.

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Det Sgt Palmer than described how a Volkswagen (VW) Caddy was observed on CCTV arriving and leaving the crime scene at the time of Mr Gibson’s murder.

The occupants of the VW Caddy, which Det Sgt Palmer described as the “getaway car”, were observed on CCTV a short time later getting into a black Opel Corsa at a spot close to where the Caddy had been burnt out.

The Corsa, Det Sgt Palmer said, was later traced to Bell’s mother, who told gardai she and her husband were out of the country at the time of the shooting.

Mrs Bell also told officers her son had access to the vehicle when his parents were away.

When he was arrested 13 months later, Bell told detectives he had been out “driving and smoking and listening to music” on the night Mr Gibson was targeted by a rival gang.

However, Bell was later charged with participating in or contributing to the murder of Mr Gibson, contrary to Section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006.

Det Sgt Palmer told Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, that although Bell was neither a “hardened criminal” nor the “driving force behind the murder”, he was still an “essential cog” in the events surrounding the fatal shooting.

Mr O Lideadha told the court he had been asked to convey on his client’s behalf “his remorse and commitment to become a better person.”

Bell, counsel said, had blamed his involvement in Mr Gibson’s killing on his own stupidity and drug taking and had acknowledged “there were no words that could be said on his behalf that could make up for what he did”.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott adjourned the hearing to March 14.

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