A notorious criminal gang leader in the Republic of Ireland told onlookers that his Glock pistol wasn't loaded seconds before he put the gun to his head, pulled the trigger and killed himself.
Philip Collopy (29) fatally shot himself in front of a number of teenagers, including a youth who was on temporary release from a juvenile detention centre, an inquest was told yesterday.
The hearing at Limerick Coroner's Court was also told that moments before Collopy pointed the gun at his head, the well-known criminal said: "There is nothing in it, watch."
Seconds later a bullet passed through his head and lodged itself in the ceiling of the home of Mary Kelly-O'Donoghue at St Munchin's Street, St Mary's Park, Limerick, on March 21, 2009.
Officers arrived to the scene at around 2.15am. Gda Vincent Donnellan told Dr Anthony Casey that the main pool of blood was in the middle of the sitting-room floor along with an empty shell.
The bullet left an entry wound to the right side of Collopy's head and an exit wound to the left side before passing through the ceiling and lodging in the floorboards of an upstairs bedroom. A fragment of bone was also found in the ceiling. One teenage girl who was in the house said Collopy came out of the bathroom wearing a holster with the handgun.
She said when the gun went off, he fell to the floor and a male picked up the gun and ran out the backdoor. A 15-year-old youth was also in the room when Collopy shot himself. The teen said a gun and a clip fell from Collopy's hand. He said he got such a fright, he ran out of the house. Ms Kelly-O'Donoghue said some of her children were upstairs in bed when Collopy killed himself. She said the dead man had a two-litre bottle of cider with him on the night.
Ms Kelly-O'Donoghue said a number of people were in her home including one man known as "Gangster, who had just come out of jail".
"I remember Philip going to the toilet. He came back and he had a gun in his hand," she said.
"I said be careful with that. He said: 'There is nothing in it.' He put up to his head. There was a lot of blood. There was pure panic in the house."
Sgt Arthur Ryan was on patrol in the area at the time and said someone ran out the house shouting: "Get an ambulance, he is shot in the head."
As his fellow officers secured the home, Sgt Ryan said he could see a person bleeding heavily. The inquest was told that a witness had told Sgt Ryan that a man with a balaclava entered the back of the house and shot Collopy in the back of the head. The statement was retracted four hours later. A Glock pistol and a magazine were later recovered.
When asked by Collopy's father, Jack Collopy, why the bullet embedded itself in the ceiling, assistant state pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster replied that his head must have been tilted.
The jury returned a verdict in accordance with medical evidence.
Source Irish Independent