THE widow of a man shot dead in a dissident republican attack has said she hopes a letter of remorse from the gunman who pulled the trigger is genuine – but stressed she can never forgive him.
Dean Evans (27) was handed a mandatory life sentence on Tuesday for his role in the murder of Peter Butterly in a pub car park in Gormanston, Co Meath, in 2013.
He pleaded guilty to being a member of a gang that blocked in Mr Butterly’s car at the Huntsman Inn on March 6, 2013 – and also admitted being the gunman.
Just before his trial was due to open in January last year Evans, of Grange Park Rise, Raheny, went on the run with his girlfriend, Stacey Roche.
Two of his co-accused were found guilty of murder in the trial that Evans avoided.
They were Edward McGrath (35), of Landale Lawns, Springfield, Tallaght, and Sharif Kelly (47), of Pinewood Green Road, Balbriggan.
Evans spent 15 months in Spain with Roche, an ex-partner of slain RIRA boss Alan Ryan, before gardai tracked him down and brought him back to face trial in April.
Evans pleaded guilty and accepted his fate of a mandatory life sentence as a result.
Before sentence was passed on Tuesday, his legal team handed in a letter to the Special Criminal Court in which he expressed remorse for his actions.
His barrister, Hugh Hartnett, outlined its contents, saying Evans wished to submit “a real expression of remorse” and to apologise to his victim’s family for the pain and suffering he caused them.
“He wishes to express regret and remorse for the impact it has had on the deceased’s family and the suffering that has resulted from his actions,” Mr Hartnett said.
“He wishes to express his apologies to the family, and that decisions that he made at an earlier stage in his life are not decisions that would be made today or in the future.”
It is understood that in the letter, Evans said that his time on the run was for him a time of reflection in which he re-evaluated his position and realised the immense impact and infinite amount of suffering he had caused to Mr Butterly’s family.
He also apologised for the suffering he caused to his own family, and promised to follow the guidance given to him toward rehabilitation when the time comes for him to reintegrate into society.
Reacting to the letter, Mr Butterly’s widow, Eithne, said Evans was “to be pitied more than anything else”.
“He was duped into doing this by cowardly scumbags,” she told Independent.ie.
I do hope his words are true and there is genuine remorse there. I can’t forgive him but I hope his words of regret are genuine.”
Evans’ admissions of guilt, and acknowledgement that decisions he made in the past are ones he regrets, could make life behind bars difficult for him if they are seen as disassociating himself from past connections with people in republican circles.
However, Eithne said she hoped there were no consequences for him as a result of his expressions of remorse.
“I wish him no harm. This started with Peter’s death and it should end there,” she said.
“Enough is enough. There are no winners.”