A 35-year-old Dublin man has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of veteran criminal Eamon Kelly in Killester, Dublin two-and-a-half years ago.

Sean Connolly of Bernard Curtis House pleaded guilty earlier this week at the Special Criminal Court.

Kelly, a convicted armed robber and drug dealer, was shot dead at his home on Furry Park Road, Killester on 4 December 2012.

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

Kelly’s daughter Alison said in a victim impact statement that the brutal and senseless murder destroyed the family’s lives and they still do not know why a much loved father and grandfather was killed.

Investigating gardaí described the killing as a highly professional murder. 

Kelly was known to go to a bookmakers in Killester in the mornings and afternoons.

The 65-year-old left Ladbrokes at 4pm on 4 December 2012 to walk home, but his killer met him as he came out of Dun Luce Lane - just 70 metres from his front door.

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

Officers from the Special Detective Unit arrested Connolly a short time later.

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

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

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

Kelly's family left the Special Criminal Court this afternoon grateful to gardaí for what they described as a "tireless investigation".

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 before.

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

Connolly pleaded guilty to the murder but Mr Justice Paul Butler said the court was in no position to acknowledge that plea and had to sentence him to life in prison.