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Alarm 'It would be a very brave Minister for Justice that would release Veronica's killer', says brother of slain journo

"I would hate to think that when we only saw one person convicted of the murder, that that person would walk. That would be very hard to stomach"

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Veronica Guerin

Veronica Guerin

Veronica Guerin

Veronica Guerin's brother Jimmy has slammed any plans to release the only person convicted of her murder as the 25th anniversary of the brave journalist's death approaches.

Jimmy spoke out as comparisons were made between her murder and that of fictional reporter Gail Vella in hit TV series Line of Duty, in which Vella's investigation into a historical crime and the police's handling of it is central to the plot.

"There is a strong comparison and it's quite sensitive," admits Jimmy, who confirmed he watches the BBC show but has only seen a couple of episodes of the new series.

"If a talented journalist has lost their life, that's absolutely awful and horrible. And certainly a female, if it's of the same gender and young, you can see the comparisons."

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Jimmy Guerin

Jimmy Guerin

Jimmy Guerin

Jimmy, who is now an independent councillor, points out that there have been killings of other journalists since Veronica's murder, which reopened wounds.

He singled out the murder of Sunday World journalist Martin O'Hagan by loyalist terrorists in Co Armagh in 2001 as "terrible", while the killing of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry two years ago was "an act of butchery".

The assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, the scourge of corrupt politicians in Malta, in 2017 was another "horrendous killing of a young woman."

"Then there was the murders of the journalists in Paris which led to 'Je suis Charlie'," Jimmy recalls, remembering the attack on the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo by Islamic terrorists in 2015.

"This was an act of terrorism, which was very upsetting for me and brought a lot of bad memories back."

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Veronica’s car on the Naas Road after she was shot behind the wheel.

Veronica’s car on the Naas Road after she was shot behind the wheel.

Veronica’s car on the Naas Road after she was shot behind the wheel.


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Jimmy is alarmed at any move to free Brian Meehan, the only person convicted of Veronica's murder.

The 52-year-old Dublin criminal was convicted in 1999 of Veronica's murder and two years ago was transferred to Wheatfield jail, having served most of his term in Portaoise prison.

It's believed moves may be afoot to transfer the Crumlin gangster to the more open prison of Shelton Abbey in Co Wicklow, leading to his possible release within three years.

Meehan has been serving a life sentence for the murder of the 36-year-old Sunday Independent journalist, who was shot dead in her car on the Naas Road on June 26, 1996.

It was the prosecution's case that Meehan drove the motorbike used in the murder of the young mother. The suspected shooter was Patrick 'Dutchy' Holland, who died in a British prison in 2009.

Meehan was a key member of the drugs gang controlled by John Gilligan - who was found not guilty of Veronica's murder.

"I would hate to think that when we only saw one person convicted of the murder, that that person would walk. That would be very hard to stomach," fumed Jimmy.

"In my view, especially on the 25th anniversary, I think it would be a very brave Minister for Justice that would sign the order to release him.

"We are only weeks away from Veronica's 25th anniversary, so naturally the whole events of that time will be in our thoughts in the coming weeks," Jimmy told the Sunday World.

"By the very nature of it, it's a significant anniversary."

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Brian Meehan

Brian Meehan

Brian Meehan

He is clear in his contempt for Gilligan, who was recently arrested in Spain after cops found drugs and guns at a property he was staying in on the Costa Blanca.

A Colt Python revolver found when he was arrested was the same firearm used to shoot Veronica, but forensic results showed it was not the same weapon.

The gun that was used in her murder has never been found.

"It was never going to be the gun, that was kind of silly," says Jimmy. "The regime over there won't take any account of his previous convictions.

"So the time he's facing over there will be very small."

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John Gilligan

John Gilligan

John Gilligan

In the early and mid-1990s Gilligan was one of the biggest drug traffickers in Ireland.

However, when his mob murdered Veronica in 1996 the gang imploded, with some members going on the run abroad and others being arrested in Ireland.

While Gilligan (70) was never convicted of the murder, he was put on trial for drug smuggling and one of the longest drug-related prison sentences in the history of the State was imposed on him.

Gilligan was freed eight years ago after 17 years behind bars in Ireland, mostly for drug crimes.

Jimmy believes criminals will think twice before targeting other journalists here.

"The bottom line is the reason they haven't been murdered is because women have paid too high a price," he stresses. "It's not that they have any moral values.

"It's when they saw the backlash, such as happened after Veronica's death, I would think that they wouldn't be taking those chances."

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Jimmy Guerin says Line of Duty has raised awareness of the dangers faced by reporters like Veronica

Jimmy Guerin says Line of Duty has raised awareness of the dangers faced by reporters like Veronica

Jimmy Guerin says Line of Duty has raised awareness of the dangers faced by reporters like Veronica

Jimmy admits that shows like Line of Duty highlight investigative exposés.

"They draw attention to these criminals, but while it was a most horrible event 25 years ago, has it really improved matters? No it hasn't," he insists.

"There's a new generation of them, still at it.

"You don't like to be reminded because of the very fact it's the 25th anniversary, but if it [Line of Duty] creates awareness amongst people and shows the risks that journalists take every day, then it serves some purpose," adds Jimmy.

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