Life sentence for Sean Connolly for murder of drug dealer Eamon Kelly

Eamon Kelly Image copyright RTE
Image caption Police had consistently warned Eamon Kelly of the threats to his life

A man has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of veteran criminal Eamon Kelly in the Republic of Ireland two-and-a-half years ago.

Mr Kelly, a convicted armed robber and drug dealer, was shot dead near his home in Dublin in December 2012.

Dublin man Sean Connolly, 35, pleaded guilty to the murder earlier this week.

Two other charges against him of IRA membership and possession of a firearm were not proceeded with.

Mr Kelly's daughter Alison said that the brutal and senseless murder destroyed the family's lives and they still do not know why he was killed.

Police described the killing as a highly-professional murder.

Mr Kelly, 65, left a bookmakers to walk home on 4 December 2012, but his killer met him 70 metres from his front door.

Mr Kelly ran but he was shot four times in the back.

Connolly was arrested a short time later.

Petrol vapours were detected on his shoes from a partially-burned getaway car and firearms residue was found on his person.

Connolly, a Real IRA gunman who was ordered to carry out the murder, has already served terms of four and six years in prison for IRA membership and possession of guns and ammunition.

He admitted that he intended to kill Mr Kelly and was sentenced to life in prison.

Mr Kelly's family left the court in Dublin on Friday saying they were grateful to police for what they described as a "tireless investigation".

Mr Kelly was shot dead three months after the murder of Real IRA leader Alan Ryan, at a time when there were tensions between gangland criminals and dissident republicans.

He was aware his life was in danger and there had been a previous attempt to shoot him two years previously.

Police had consistently warned him of the threats to his life.

More on this story