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Drug Dealer Gets Life in Irish Reporter's Death

November 28, 1998| From Associated Press

DUBLIN, Ireland — A drug dealer was convicted Friday of murdering a well-known Irish crime reporter to silence her exposes on the country's underworld.

Paul Ward, 34, remained stone-faced as a special court of three judges that normally hears terrorist cases sentenced him to life in prison for the slaying of Veronica Guerin.

Guerin had already been shot in the leg and beaten several times by thugs in previous attacks when she slowed to a stop at an intersection in a Dublin suburb in June 1996.

This time, two men on a motorcycle ambushed her in her idling car and shot the 36-year-old journalist with a pistol. It was the first time a journalist had been murdered in the Irish Republic. The attack spurred authorities to launch a largely successful crackdown on criminal networks in Dublin.

The judges found Friday that Ward had disposed of the motorcycle and the pistol used by his two accomplices. Their ruling criticized the police handling of the case but accepted the uncorroborated testimony of Ward's state-protected accomplice, Charles Bowden.

Justice Robert Barr called Bowden "a self-serving, deeply avaricious liar" who nonetheless had offered a devastatingly detailed account of his and Ward's roles in Guerin's assassination.

Bowden, 34, is already serving a six-year sentence for drug trafficking and arms possession, and is in solitary confinement for his own protection. He received immunity from further prosecution in exchange for his evidence.

Ward acknowledged that he and Bowden belonged to Dublin's biggest drug-dealing gang, but he denied any involvement in the killing of Guerin. His lawyers said Friday that they intend to appeal.

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