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mob lure State witness Joseph O'Callaghan hopes his story will be a warning to parents of the dangers of grooming by gangs

Courageous Joseph was the youngest ever Irish person to enter Witness Protection Programme.

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Joey 'The Lips' O' Callaghan speaking to Nicola Tallant

Joey 'The Lips' O' Callaghan speaking to Nicola Tallant

Joey O'Callaghan's latest podcast acts as a warning about criminal grooming

Joey O'Callaghan's latest podcast acts as a warning about criminal grooming

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Joey 'The Lips' O' Callaghan speaking to Nicola Tallant

The youngest Irish person ever to enter the Witness Protection Programme hopes his harrowing description of being lured into the world of a violent killer as a child in a new podcast will serve as a warning to parents of the dangers of grooming.

In 2005, Joseph O’Callaghan’s testimony helped convict two drug dealing gangsters for murder – he was just 19.

But after decades of silence since his courtroom appearance, his raw retelling of a childhood destroyed in his Dublin accent in the podcast, The Witness: In His Own Words, has gripped the nation after climbing to No. 1 in the podcast charts ahead of celebrity podcasts from Vogue Williams and Tommy Tiernan.

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Joey O'Callaghan's latest podcast acts as a warning about criminal grooming

Joey O'Callaghan's latest podcast acts as a warning about criminal grooming

Joey O'Callaghan's latest podcast acts as a warning about criminal grooming

His story was the subject of the best-seller, The Witness, by Nicola Tallant, but in the powerful podcast series, he speaks courageously over ten episodes of the trauma he has endured since first talking his way on to a job on the local milk float as a 12-year-old child which turned out to be a front for a sordid underworld of drug dealing run by volatile gangster Brian Kenny.

Mr. O’Callaghan, who is still living in fear of his life, hopes his story will help save other children from predatory criminals.

“I’m thrilled my voice is finally being heard and that people are sitting up and listening about what happened to me because it could happen to any kid”, he said this week.

“I hope it will highlight grooming as a real issue for children being drawn into drug gangs and that it might open parents’ eyes to how predatory these drug dealers are when it comes to recruiting.”

The podcast from the team behind The Stand tells in heart-breaking detail how a young child's joy at getting his first part-time job a milk float turned to terror as he found himself trapped and voiceless in a sinister world he couldn't escape.

Despite his continuing fears, the Dubliner has persisted in speaking out as the men he helped to put behind bars agitate for their release.

Years in therapy have helped him to deal with his past but he has also found there counting of his story a cathartic experience after so many years in the shadows.

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Convicted murderer Brian Kenny

Convicted murderer Brian Kenny

Convicted murderer Brian Kenny

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While Joseph Callaghan has a new identity, he is no longer on the Witness Protection Programme but he does have liaison officers and ongoing protection as he has received two GIM forms that there is a credible threat to his life in the last year

Brian Kenny received a life sentence which is expected to be nearing its conclusion, but it is understood he was declined a parole hearing in recent weeks in the wake of a letter sent to the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee by Joseph O’Callaghan expressing his very fear for his life if the murderer is released.

In the letter he stated: “My name is Joseph O’Callaghan and I was the chief witness in Brian Kenny’s murder trial. I was just 19 when I gave evidence against him, and I did that after years of psychological, physical, and sexually abused by him.

“He was convicted of murdering Jonathan O’Reilly, who was shot dead in 2004, and of threatening to kill me – a threat which remains very much active to this day and which has been hammered home to me in the past year by two official Garda warnings that my life is in danger.”

He said the last threat to life warning he received from gardai was in February2021.

“I understand this is a direct result of the possible release of Brian Kenny from prison. The previous GIM was served to me last April (2020) after a previous parole hearing where I wrote a letter pleading that he be kept in jail. While no GIM form names or details where a threat is coming from I remain a protected person because of the risk to my life posed by Brian Kenny.

“He has killed before and I am in no doubt that he will try to kill me as soon ashe is set free.”

The Witness: In His Own Words is available from Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Acast

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