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STARK WARNING Joey 'The Lips' O'Callaghan warns of Brian Kenny threat as killer allowed out for shopping spree

'There are two Brian Kennys...one that will promise you the sun, moon & stars... the other that will abuse & murder you'


Joey speaks to Nicola Tallant.

Joey speaks to Nicola Tallant.

Joey speaks to Nicola Tallant.

Gangland killer Brian Kenny enjoyed a day out earlier this month at a shopping centre near Loughan House open prison and will begin overnight stays with his families in the coming months.

Witness Joseph O'Callaghan - whose evidence jailed Kenny and his co-accused Thomas Hinchon for life for the murder of Jonathan O'Reilly - says he was told Kenny was escorted by three officers for his shopping spree, but was not handcuffed.

"I have been told by the prison authorities that in the coming weeks and months he will be going on training days and will be allowed have overnight stays and different types of temporary release," Joey tells this week's Crime World podcast.

"These are privileges I don't have. I am not brought shopping by three minders so I can get home safely. The prison restrictions in place because of Covid have only just been lifted and Kenny is first in. It is extraordinary how well he is treated in jail and how he constantly gets preferential treatment."

Joey (36) - whose story has been told in the bestselling book The Witness by Sunday World Investigation Editor Nicola Tallant and whose podcast The Witness In His Own Words has hit the number one spot in Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Spain - says he is devastated that Kenny is enjoying days out of the jail in Blacklion, Co Cavan.

"I hate even talking about the fact that he has got out. It's as if everything is happening to me all over again. I just don't understand how the system works and I wonder is it just that he is able to manipulate people.

"There are two Brian Kennys. There is the one that will sit in front of you and promise you the sun, moon and stars and there is the other that will abuse and murder you. I think the parole boards are only seeing the first.

"It is devastating for me and my family and I'm sure for the victim's family too. There are so many people it affects, there are so many people on edge constantly not knowing what was happening. Two people committed the murder of Jonathan O'Reilly and it seems that they are equally to blame.

"Yet one is in an open prison on his way out and the other is still locked up, serving his time. That doesn't make sense."

O'Reilly was murdered outside Cloverhill prison on April 17, 2004. Kenny returned with Hinchon to his compound at Mitchelstown Cottage in Kilshane and handed Joey the gun and clothing to burn and hide.

But the then teenager, who had been groomed into Kenny's drug world years earlier, went to the gardai and led them to the evidence. At 18 he was the youngest person to ever sign on the Witness Protection Programme and a year later he faced down the killers in a courtroom.


Brian Kenny on a visit to Tallaght Hospital in 2018

Brian Kenny on a visit to Tallaght Hospital in 2018

Brian Kenny on a visit to Tallaght Hospital in 2018

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Joey's story of survival against all the odds has hit a huge chord with the public and his podcast has topped 1.2 million streams since it was first released last May.

Joey, nicknamed 'The Lips' by Kenny, had grown up in Ballymun but met the drug dealer when his family moved to Blanchardstown and he took a job on his milk float. The round turned out to be cover for Kenny to deliver heroin and cocaine throughout West Dublin and for five years Joey was forced to work for him while he was physically and sexually abused and terrorised by constant threats to him and his family.

In an interview with Crime World Joey says he regularly met other young teens like him working for serious drug lords.

Many were paid in cash and cars and given apartments to live in despite being under the age of 16.

Kenny's ambition became his undoing when he joined forces with Clondalkin criminal Hinchon, who was fighting a turf battle with other gangs.

Joey says he has been overwhelmed by the support he has received since he decided to tell his story, which he hopes will serve as a warning to young kids not to get mixed up in gangs.


Thomas Hinchon (top right) outside Cloverhill prison

Thomas Hinchon (top right) outside Cloverhill prison

Thomas Hinchon (top right) outside Cloverhill prison


"It's no life. Your life is not worth a Gucci jacket. You will end up in a hole or in a cell and that is a fact.

"Life is precious and we don't know how many birthdays we have left.

"We don't need a birthday to celebrate life and I think we should celebrate every day because it is fragile and we should tell people that we love them because we don't know what time we have left.

"I would say to parents to keep their kids away from drugs and gangs and to do anything to keep them away because it will only end badly.

"I've been there - I've been to hell and back. I'm not looking for sympathy but I can't change what happened. If I could stop someone else, even one child, going through what I went through then I think my job is done. Parents should check with their kids and ask them are they OK. And then they should ask again. Always double check because it's a dark world and once you get in it is very hard to get back out.

"But I am proof that there is a way back. I will always have to worry about Kenny and Hinchon and their associates and I have to live my life a particular way and be careful about everything I do but I'm lucky I'm here at all."

Joey says he was simply known as a 'rat' before he penned his book but since he has told his story he has been bombarded with messages of support and love. I don't think I've been called a rat for over a year which is an achievement," he jokes.

"Every message means a huge amount to me."

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