Dunne's gang face charges under new laws
By Tom Brady
Thursday May 13 2010
GARDA files on at least eight gangs have been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) under the tough legislation introduced by the Government last year.
The DPP will decide whether the suspects are to be charged under the anti-gangland laws, which carry jail sentences up to life imprisonment.
Several files focus on gangs led by major criminals in Dublin including the group that surrounded Eamonn Dunne, the notorious thug shot dead in a city pub last month.
The file on Dunne was one of the first three submitted to the DPP before Christmas and, despite the gang leader's death, it is still being processed.
It contains extensive details of the activities of Dunne's gang, including drug trafficking, armed robbery, illegal debt collections, extortion, threats and intimidation.
Officers have also submitted files on a number of other Dublin-based gangs as well as criminals in several other cities including Limerick.
It is expected that several prosecutions will be brought in the non-jury Special Criminal Court, particularly where threats or intimidation have been made by gang members against witnesses in the past, and these are likely to include any charges pressed against Dunne's associates.
Other cases will be dealt with through the "regular" criminal courts.
The files stem from a massive review by gardai of criminal files, which began last summer while the new legislation was being piloted through the Oireachtas.
A list of about 80 top criminals was drawn up and their names were discussed by senior officers at a crime summit in the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary.
Trial judges will be able to take into account the opinions of a senior garda officer when making a decision on the guilt of the accused and the officer will have the flexibility to refer to crimes in which the accused is suspected of being involved as well as those that resulted in their convictions.
Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said earlier this year that he could assure the public that his force had not been "sitting on their hands" since the Criminal Justice Act 2009 had been enacted and were working diligently to put the cases together.
A gang boss can be jailed for life if convicted of a charge of directing the activities of a criminal outfit, while a maximum sentence of 15 years' imprisonment can be imposed for those found guilty of participating in or facilitating the activities of a criminal gang with the aim of helping it to commit offences.
- Tom Brady