Drug baron suspect in gangland slaying
A major drug trafficker is a prime suspect for yesterday's clinical murder of gangland "hard man" and maverick, John Daly.
But senior garda officers leading the hunt for his killers last night admitted there was no shortage of theories to be investigated.
Daly's reputation as a troublemaker and a nasty thug with a violent streak meant he had a long list of enemies.
His notorious phone call to RTE's 'Liveline' programme from a mobile phone while in his cell at Portlaoise jail last May ensured that the list would lengthen, as other gangland figures lost their phones during the subsequent crackdown by the prison authorities.
Since his release, Daly (27) had been mainly lying low around his home at Cloonlara Drive in the north Dublin suburb of Finglas.
But it was known that he was anxious to establish himself as a serious player on the crime scene and step into the vacuum created by the murder last December of gangland boss, Martin "Marlo" Hyland. Despite his notoriety, Daly was not a major criminal and detectives suspect that his efforts to carve out a drug trafficking "patch" in his own area brought him into conflict with a 31-year-old Finglas gangster, a former lieutenant of Hyland's.
After his release last August from Cork prison, where he had been moved following the searches for phones in Portlaoise, gardai became aware of several threats on his life.
Officers passed on this information to Daly and offered advice about personal security measures but he ignored the advice and was not co-operative.
On Sunday night, Daly and a group of friends had been socialising in Dublin city centre.
On their way home the group called into a number of houses in the Finglas area in search of a party. At some stage the taxi, which had collected Daly and five friends, who included three women, was tailed by a dark-coloured Toyota Land Cruiser.
When the taxi stopped near Daly's home at Cloonlara Drive at 1.45am, a man jumped out of the Land Cruiser and walked over to establish that Daly was sitting in the front passenger seat.
He fired at least five shots into Daly and ran off.
As he was dying, Daly slumped sideways across the taxi driver, who was unable to unbuckle his seatbelt to get out of the vehicle.
The driver's uncle yesterday described how his nephew was unsure whether he had been shot also because of the amount of blood on the seat.
Meanwhile, the killer and at least one accomplice sped off in the Land Cruiser, which they abandoned and set on fire at the junction of Scribblestown Road and Scribblestown Avenue.
Last night, gardai were trying to trace the origins of the badly burnt jeep, which had been fitted with false registration plates.
Detectives were also attempting to establish whether the killer had followed Daly and his group from the city centre or learned of his whereabouts as a result of the later house calls around Finglas.
One senior officer last night described Daly as a maverick, who was unpredictable, violent, with no firm allegiances and regarded in some circles as a potential psychopath.
"He would not have been part of any criminal understanding and was on his own. He moved around so much and was so erratic that none of the big crime figures associated with him for very long," he added.
While in Portlaoise jail, Daly associated with gang bosses such as John Gilligan and members of the Limerick-based Keane gang.
He was initially jailed for his part in a petrol station hold-up on the Finglas Road in 1999. He was released early but the rest of the sentence was reactivated after Daly committed a public order offence.
Four years ago, he was charged with possession of a shotgun with intent to endanger life and assault causing serious harm to Liam McAllister, a nephew of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.