Drug boss guilty in Guerin killing

ONE OF the five "managers" of a Dublin-based international drugs gang was yesterday jailed for life for the murder of the Irish crime journalist Veronica Guerin in June 1996.

Paul "Hippo" Ward, 34, who earned more than pounds 150,000 a year for collecting multi-million pound revenues from lower dealers, had denied the charge but was found guilty of being an accessory to the murder. His lawyers are to appeal.

The prosecution had earlier appeared on the point of collapse when Mr Justice Barr revealed that all three judges in the Special Criminal Court strongly doubted garda evidence that Ward had, after more than 14 hours of maintaining silence during interrogation, made "a remarkable volte- face" by suddenly admitted his role.

In the stunned aftermath of Ms Guerin's killing, the public laid wreaths in her honour outside the Dail, an eloquent protest at government inaction against a deteriorating crime situation. Ministers were embarrassed into response: an emergency Dail session passed new laws to seize assets from a rising generation of drugs millionaires.

The presumed invulnerability of the latter had been evident not just in conspicuous consumption but in their weapons arsenals, their incipient power wielded as a law unto itself. From 1994-1996, there had been 14 unsolved Dublin murders widely believed to be drugs-related contract killings.

Mother of a young son, formerly assistant to a party leader, a Dublin Fianna Fail treasurer and personally known to many senior politicians, Ms Guerin's special status had all too belatedly influenced events.

The eight-week trial was remarkable in three ways. Held in a no-jury court, the entire proceedings hinged on Charles Bowden, a former gang member turned state's witness, the subject of Ireland's first-ever witness- protection programme and now serving six years for drugs and arms offences.

It emerged that Bowden had been given "unconditional and irrevocable" immunity from prosecution over Ms Guerin's murder. Defence lawyers were refused access to 40 informants' statements. With further proceedings pending, the court ruled that nationally known criminals cited in testimony cannot be named.

Ward is the only man so far to be tried for the murder. The prosecution maintained that he helped plan it, that he disposed of the gun and motorcycle used in the attack, but did not take part in the shooting itself.

Ms Guerin died from bleeding and shock after being shot in the chest, back, and arm as her car pulled up at traffic lights in west Dublin. An hour later, Bowden said, one of the killers reported: "It was a good job."

In court, Ward, revealed how around a Caribbean swimming pool during a wedding trip to St Lucia in March 1996, gang members ridiculed their leader amid laughter after Ms Guerin brought assault charges against him. Bowden confirmed that the same man had been "pissed off" by the reporter's inquiries.

Garda James Hanley told the court that after his arrest, Paul Ward said he had only been asked to "look after the motorbike and gun used in the shooting". He said that asked to make a full statement, Ward had replied "Are you mad?... Charge me with taking the gun and the bike for them, but I won't take the murder rap." Ward's defence rubbished the statements as "contested verbals".

Yesterday, the judges agreed, concluding that Ward's alleged admissions, "if they took place... were induced by grievous psychological pressure". They suggested gardai had "terrified" Ward's elderly mother and kept his girlfriend, Vanessa Meehan, in unexplained custody. The judges also referred to allegedly "missing" garda documents and cited evidence of a possible assault by a garda on Ward because of his silence.

Ward, a heroin addict, had admitted earning pounds 300,000 from drugs between 1994 and 1996.

The prosecution rested on the credibility of Bowden, a former Irish army marksman, whom defence counsel Patrick MacEntee challenged forcefully. Bowden, 34, recalled being with Ward at a meeting of gang members which initiated Ms Guerin's killing, during a weekly gathering to divide cannabis profits. He revealed his share sometimes reached pounds 6,000 a week. When arrested he had pounds 85,000 in cash stored with a friend.

Bowden revealed that the gang had numerous imported weapons hidden in a Dublin Jewish cemetery. He had loaded the Magnum revolver used in the murder. Other evidence included records showing many mobile telephone calls between Ward's and the alleged assassin's numbers on the day of the murder.

Judge Barr said that Bowden, one of five "managers" within the gang, would lie regardless of the interest of others "if it was in his interests to do so".

Despite all this, the court ruled that Bowden's specific account of the killing was credible. Two alleged leaders of the drugs gang are facing court proceedings in Ireland and Britain.

Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP HCM/PAYROLL CONSULTANT

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP HCM/PAYROLL...

MS Dynamics NAV Developer

£45000 - £52000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Excellent oppor...

SAP GRC/SECURITY CONSULTANT

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP GRC/SECURIT...

Senior Marine / Shipping Solicitor - South Coast

Highly Competitive Package: Austen Lloyd: SOUTH COAST - MARINE / SHIPPING Th...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game