Monday 24 July 2017

'A suspect in at least four murders and rape of a boy' - notorious criminal Mark Desmond shot dead in Dublin

*Gangland criminal 'Guinea Pig' shot in head four times in Dublin gangland attack
*Close links to notorious Sligo drugs gang
*Suspected of murder of Patrick Murray and Darren Casey who were dumped in Grand Canal

Mark Desmond (left), a car burned out near the scene of the shooting and, bottom right, gardai cover a body at the scene. Photos: Dave Conachy, Arthur Carron
Mark Desmond (left), a car burned out near the scene of the shooting and, bottom right, gardai cover a body at the scene. Photos: Dave Conachy, Arthur Carron
Shot dead: Mark Desmond Picture: Courtpix

Robin Schiller and Cathal McMahon

Notorious criminal Mark 'The Guinea Pig' Desmond was shot dead in west Dublin last night.

Desmond (41), originally from the Lally Road in Ballyfermot, was shot up to four times in the head during the gangland gun attack.

Body is taken from the scene of shooting in Lucan. Photo: Dave Conachy
Body is taken from the scene of shooting in Lucan. Photo: Dave Conachy
A car that was set alight close to the scene of the shooting. Photo: Dave Conachy
Gardai cover the body at the scene at the entrance to Grifeen Valley Park, Lucan. Photo Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Gardai at the scene at the entrance to Grifeen Valley Park, Lucan , where the body of a man in his 30s with a gun shot wound to the head was found at around 8pm this evening... Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Gardai at the scene at the entrance to Grifeen Valley Park, Lucan , where the body of a man in his 30s with a gun shot wound to the head was found at around 8pm this evening... Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Gardai at the scene at the entrance to Grifeen Valley Park, Lucan , where the body of a man in his 30s with a gun shot wound to the head was found at around 8pm this evening... Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Gardaí in Lucan are investigating the discovery of the man's body at Griffeen Valley Park, Lucan. Picture: Arthur Carron
Gardaí in Lucan are investigating the discovery of the man's body at Griffeen Valley Park, Lucan. Picture: Arthur Carron
Gardaí in Lucan are investigating the discovery of the man's body at Griffeen Valley Park, Lucan. Picture: Arthur Carron
Gardaí in Lucan are investigating the discovery of the man's body at Griffeen Valley Park, Lucan. Picture: Arthur Carron

The attack occurred at Griffeen Valley Park, Lucan, around 8pm. A burnt-out car was found nearby but it is not yet known whether the two incidents are connected.

Gardaí are probing whether Desmond was in the area to meet a local drug dealer before he was shot.

A forensic officer removes a gun from close to the scene of a fatal shooting in Griffeen Valley Park, Dublin. Picture via Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A forensic officer removes a gun from close to the scene of a fatal shooting in Griffeen Valley Park, Dublin. Picture via Brian Lawless/PA Wire

It is understood a gunman approached Desmond on the Griffin Glen Park Road, before chasing him into an adjacent park and shooting him.

Sources said that gardaí were investigating if two criminal brothers who are based in the locality were behind the vicious murder.

Desmond is a key player in Dublin's underworld and suspected of murdering two young men and dumping their bodies in the Grand Canal in 2000.

He was the only man to have been charged in the notorious 2000 'canal murders' investigation.

Patrick Murray and Darren Carey were shot in drug-related killings and their bodies dumped in the Grand Canal at Karneystown, Co Kildare, between December 19, 1999, and January 10, 2000.

A burnt out Mazda car was found near the scene and a handgun - possibly the murder weapon - was recovered from the vehicle.

Read More: Gun victim Mark Desmond was major gangland player linked to at least four murders

In 2002, the murder charges were dropped by the Director for Public Prosecutions when a key prosecution witness, Rachel Stephens, retracted her statement implicating Desmond in the murders.

He was sentenced to eight years on a charge of unlawful possession of firearms with intent to endanger life in relation to the murders.

But the Court of Criminal Appeal later overturned Desmond's conviction and sentence.

In 2002, he was questioned about rape allegations concerning a 15-year-old boy while in custody in June 2000.

Desmond was previously linked to the July 2009 execution of drug dealer Anthony Cannon - one of Brian Rattigan's key enforcers.

Desmond was also suspected of playing a key role in the murder of James Kenny McDonagh.

McDonagh went missing in October 2010 and his remains were found in the Dublin mountains 14 months later.

Associates of McDonagh have claimed Desmond ordered the hit in revenge for an earlier incident.

Desmond has been based in Co Sligo for the past number of months and was acting as a 'heavy' for a local drugs gang.

A source said: "This man had a long list of enemies. There is no obvious suspect at this stage."

All entrances to Griffeen Park remained sealed off on Friday night as detectives carried out door to door inquiries.

Garda forensic officers also attended the scene shortly after 9.30pm to carry out a preliminary technical examination of the scene.

Locals in the Lucan estate expressed shock at the shooting in what they described as a very quiet area.

Eryk W, who asked that we do not use his full name, explained that he was at home sitting in his living room at the time watching television.

"At first time I heard bangs but it sounds like someone knocking the door quite loud.

"Then second time same sound but more like an explosion. I  looked out the window and saw a lot of dark smoke.

"I went out from the house and then I saw something is burning followed by another little explosion. I started running to the bushes and saw a car with open driver door burning. And then I started recording the car on fire."

One man, who lives beside the park where Desmond was shot dead said: "I heard the helicopter overhead but didn't think too much of it, until around half an hour later when more Garda cars started arriving on the road."

Another local man said: "People always think this couldn't happen in there area, that their exclusive. They're not, it can happen anywhere. I walk in that park all the time, even at night with my kids. Unfortunately it'll always be known as the park where the man was killed".

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has condemned the "brutal attack" which she said was another reminder of the "callous disregard for human life displayed by people intent on murder and mayhem".

"Every effort will be made to bring the perpetrators of this dreadful shooting to justice," Ms Fitzgerald said.

The body of Mark Desmond was removed from a post-mortem on Saturday afternoon.

Irish Independent

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