SUCCUMBING to the fear and dread of threats from the criminal underworld and “sick” of having to constantly look over his shoulder despite being under 24-armed garda protection, Steve Collins, father of murder victim Roy Collins, has left Limerick with his wife and family to begin a new life abroad – and the State has stepped by buying his pub. After speaking out against the sinister and threatening ways on the menacing criminal underworld that taunted his every move, Steve Collins and his family boarded an Aer Lingus flight at the weekend
after over a year of planning and left Limerick behind in search of a “normal life”.
Collins first spoke out in a very public way after his 34-year-old son, Roy, was shot dead by the McCarthy-Dundon gang in 2009 at the casino he ran next to the Steering Wheel pub. Roy died in Steve’s arms as the gunman fled.
Roy Collins was murdered four years after members of his family gave evidence that led to the conviction of Wayne Dundon for threatening to kill Steve’s adopted son, Ryan Lee.
Ryan Lee was shot twice by a masked gunman after he refused entry to Brannigan’s pub to Wayne Dundon’s underage sister.
The family had been under 24-hour armed garda protection ever since.
Wayne Dundon was convicted of making threats to kill Ryan Lee and sentenced to serve 10 years in Wheatfield Prison but the sentence was reduced to seven years by the Court of Criminal Appeal. He was released in March 2010.
James Dillon, of no fixed abode, was jailed for life for the murder of Roy Collins.
Always defiant and determined not to be silenced by the criminals Steve Collins ran a campaign where thousands took to the streets of Limerick seeking that his son’s killers be brought to justice. He also identified Wayne Dundon as being the man he believed to be behind ordering the shooting from his Wheatfield prison cell.
In 2009, a note was found in Dundon’s cell ordering hitmen to assassinate rival criminal gangland figure Johnny McNamara and Steve Collins for €75,000.
Senior officials have said that Collins’ decision had taken up some time and resources and was not something that happened overnight.
The family, and Steve at its head, said that they felt that this was their “only option” to live in a safe environment.
It is understood that jobs have been arranged abroad for the family, who will keep their identities and the purchases made by the State of both the Steering Wheel pub and Brannigans, that was destroyed in an arson attack in 2005, will assist the family set up that new “normal life”.
Extended members of the Collins family who remain in Limerick will continue to receive garda protection.
Mr Collins, who had vowed to never leave Limerick so he could be close to his son’s grave, flew out of Shannon Airport last Sunday afternoon with his wife Carmel and their grown-up children Steve Jnr and Leeann.