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Nicola Tallant is an award-winning investigative journalist.
Emotionally powerful and provocative, this true story really packs a punch. At 18, Joey O’Callaghan was signed up to the Witness Protection Programme after he gave evidence in court that put away two violent drug bosses. Joey had been part of a drugs gang since he was 10, for his own safety after giving evidence he was given a new identity and relocated to England. Award winning journalist Nicola Tallant writes his tale, with his voice. A journalist for 20 years, she has: “broken countless crime exclusives, delved into the darkest corners of the underworld and come face to face with some of the most notorious gangland criminals”. She is called on for her expertise about organised crime to contribute to television and radio, and is an author of books about crime, cults, and murder. In other words, she really does know her stuff. She turns this true story over to Joey and allows us to see the grooming, the broken childhood, and the crimes as they take place with his eyes. We also see Joey’s life after he was given a new identity, and how that affected him. The before and after the court case are equally shocking, the writing is clear and open, and unfolds into what is a truly gobsmacking story. The Witness recognises what has gone wrong in society, yet it is the personal connection that really highlights the significance of this tale.
'A superb book... Joey's story is extraordinary and its authenticity and relevance to the times we're living in is stunning' Eamon Dunphy 'Gritty, terrifying and the most incredible true gangland story you will ever read. The Witness is hard to put down but will be harder to forget.' Donal MacIntyre Joey O'Callaghan was just 18 years old when he became a ghost - the youngest ever person to be signed up to the Witness Protection Programme. Groomed into a drug gang from the age of 10, a cold-blooded assassination sickened him to his core, and he broke the golden bond of gangland silence. His evidence won murder convictions against two of the most violent drug bosses in Ireland. Relocated to England with a new identity, Joey had to face the world alone, and soon realised it was he who had received the life sentence. 15 years on, the ripple effects of the gunshots that rang out that night continue to leave a devastating legacy for everyone. None more so than Joey 'The Lips'. This is his story.
In Flesh and Blood, Sunday World Investigations Editor, Nicola Tallant looks at the rising phenomenon of murder-suicide in Ireland, at events which, while shocking in the extreme, happen in tight-knit communities, behind the closed doors of apparently loving homes. She takes us inside these houses of horror and pieces together what happened in seventeen prominent cases, including the horrific murder of four-year-old Deirdre Crowley, whose abductor father shot her dead so that her mother would never see her again; the case of Caitlin Innes, murdered after her Communion Day; the tragic McElhill children, torched to death by their own father; and the case of mother Sharon Grace who, in a state of extreme desperation, drove off a pier with her children in the car. It examines what warning signs, if any, were there before loving fathers and mothers turned killer in their own homes, and looks at the roles of the HSE, the Gardai and families and friends in the build up to these tragic events. Is it too easy to whitewash these crimes as those of the mentally ill? Or can jealousy tip the scales in an otherwise balanced mind? Are there common factors that link these cases? And what steps can be taken to ensure that warning signs are heeded in the future before tragedy strikes again?