Thursday 23 February 2017

Gardai hope phone records will shed light on murders

Tom Brady and Edel Kennedy

GARDAI are examining mobile phone records for vital clues to the identity of the callous killers responsible for the brutal murder of two cousins in a petrol station forecourt.

The phone checks will determine whether the victims, Glen Murphy (19) and Mark Noonan (23), were lured to their bloody deaths shortly before midnight on Tuesday.

They died in a hail of bullets after stopping at the station beside a Tesco supermarket at the Clearwater shopping centre in Finglas, Co Dublin.

Two gunmen fired up to 15 shots from automatic pistols into their victims.

The gunmen and an accomplice, who was driving their dark-coloured BMW car, had been seen in the forecourt about five minutes before the victims arrived in Mr Noonan's grey Toyota Avensis.

This led gardai to believe that the two had been ambushed.

However, detectives admit the cousins did not behave as if they were meeting anybody when they arrived outside the shop in the forecourt.

An examination of the two men's phones should confirm what calls they either made or received in the hours before their murders.

But the absence of a motive for such a savage shooting -- the third double murder in Dublin this year -- has resulted in other options being examined by the 60-strong garda squad.

This includes the possibility, however remote, that the two were the tragic victims of mistaken identity.

"At this stage, all options are open, including the possibility that the gunmen might have expected another Avensis," one officer said.

"But the clinical nature of the shootings indicates that this was a very well-organised hit and it would be very surprising if they made such a basic error," he added.

The two victims had been with their girlfriends watching videos in one of the girls' houses earlier and then drove to the supermarket to buy snacks.

After leaving the supermarket, they went to the station forecourt and Mr Noonan jumped out of the car and walked over to the hatch of the shop to buy cigarettes.

Mr Murphy stepped out of the car while he was waiting.

The BMW then pulled alongside and the two gunmen opened fire. Mr Noonan was hit in the back of the head and in the back while Mr Murphy was struck in the stomach and head as he tried to scramble back into the Avensis to hide from the killers.

Gardai are also examining CCTV footage taken from cameras in the immediate vicinity and looking at close-ups of all vehicles entering and leaving the forecourt between 11.30pm and 11.45pm.

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Detectives are also carrying out inquiries among staff and customers in the garage and supermarket and following up leads that have emerged from their appeal for help.

Last night, one of Glen and Mark's aunts, Barbara Murphy, said the family were "simply devastated" and they were just waiting to get the two bodies back.

"Mark's girlfriend is in such shock that she collapsed a few times," she told the Irish Independent last night.

"We don't know yet when we'll get their bodies back but we just want to get them home."

She said tragedy visited their family just three months ago when her brother -- Glen and Mark's uncle -- passed away. Both bereaved mothers, Geraldine and Michelle, are now staying with another sister as they attempt to cope with their loss.

"We don't know why this happened but we want whoever did this to be caught," added Barbara.

Irish Independent

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