A 25-year-old man who has spent a quarter of his life in custody was jailed on Wednesday for two-and-a-half years for his role in a “cold-blooded assassination” of a “big friendly giant”.
Lorcan Merriman (25), of Lealand Close, Clondalkin, Dublin, pleaded guilty last year at the Central Criminal Court to disposing of the gun used to murder Thomas Farnan (37) on April 25th, 2016.
Mr Farnan suffered nine gunshot wounds when he was shot six times in front of his partner, Elaine Heffernan, as he opened his door at Kilcronan Close, Clondalkin, Dublin, at 11pm, while on the phone to his mother.
Merriman – who is currently serving five years for possession of a firearm – had been on trial for Mr Farnan's murder but the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) dropped the charge after the accused offered to plead guilty to preventing the apprehension of the murderer by disposing of the murder weapon, which has not been found.
Sentencing Merriman to four years’ imprisonment with the final 18 months suspended, Mr Justice David Keane said the killing had been a “cold-blooded assassination” and Merriman’s involvement in it arose out of “serious criminality” rather than the accused’s personal circumstances.
The fact that the gunman has yet to be caught meant that Merriman has successfully impeded the killer’s apprehension and prosecution for six years, Mr Justice Keane added.
The judge also noted that Merriman has never shown any “remorse or contrition” for his crime.
But Mr Justice Keane also acknowledged that the accused – who had been a promising soccer player in his youth before drifting into drug use and criminality around the time his parents separated – was now trying to turn his life around.
Merriman’s efforts towards rehabilitation were reflected in the fact that he was now regarded as an enhanced prisoner with special duties, the judge noted.
But the judge also said the offence the accused was guilty of was punishable according to the gravity of the crime the other person had committed.
In this case, as the other offence had been murder, the maximum penalty available to the court was 10 years’ imprisonment, the judge said.
As he considered Merriman’s offending to be in the “middle of the upper range”, Mr Justice Keane said an appropriate headline sentence would be eight years.
He said he would discount this term by a total of four years to not only reflect the fact that the accused was already serving a custodial sentence, but to also give him credit for his guilty plea which, the judge said, had freed garda and court personnel from attending what could have otherwise been a lengthy trial.
He said he would suspend the final 18 months to incentivise Merriman towards further rehabilitation and the sentence would begin when Merriman’s current five-year jail term, which was imposed in 2018, ends.
Mr Justice Keane also expressed the court’s condolences to the family of Mr Farnan.