Gardai link assassinated crime boss to 17 murders
Eamon 'The Don' Dunne began gangland killing spree five years ago
Published 25/04/2010 | 05:00
Estimates vary but Eamon Dunne -- who was shot dead in Cabra, Dublin, on Friday night -- may have been involved in up to 17 gangland murders, gardai believe.
He is suspected of having orchestrated the murder of the Latvian mother-of-two Baiba Saulite at her home in Swords in November 2006. It is believed Dunne employed the services of an assassin belonging to a notorious criminal family in Limerick to commit the murder.
Dunne's involvement in the murder spree goes back to 2005 when he was believed to have shot dead Andrew "Chicore" Dillon, 29, in Berryfield Road in Finglas in August that year.
Dunne, 33, was emerging as a close associate and henchman of the then drugs and crime boss in Finglas, Martin "Marlo" Hyland. Dunne and others working for Hyland became increasingly concerned that Hyland intended to kill them as his behaviour became increasingly erratic through his use of cocaine.
Dunne and Michael "Roly" Cronin are believed to have assassinated Hyland, 39, at his home in Scribblestown Lane, Finglas, in December 2006. They also shot dead the innocent young plumber, Anthony Campbell, 19, who was repairing a radiator when they burst into the house.
That was the start of what would become a string of murders that continued in October 2007 with the fatal shooting of John Daly, 27, the Finglas criminal who had achieved national notoriety when he telephoned into RTE's Liveline on a mobile phone from his cell in Portlaoise Prison. As a result of that call a nationwide search of prisons uncovered more than 2,000 phones and led to a big interruption in communications between leading criminals and their associates on the outside.
Daly was shot dead the day after he was released from jail as a result of anger over this consequence. A rival of Dunne's, Trevor Walsh, 33, was also murdered two days after his release from prison in July 2008 at Kippure Park in Finglas. Yet another rival, Paul "Farmer" Martin, 30, was shot dead as he stood outside the Jolly Toper pub in August 2008. Dunne was the single biggest driving force responsible for making 2009 the bloodiest year for gangland crime in Ireland. At least nine of the 31 gang-related assassinations in 2009 were directly attributable to him.
Last year's blood-letting was sparked by the seizure of 1.7 tonnes of cocaine in a yacht which ran into difficulties off the west coast in November 2008. The shipment, with a potential "street" value of €500m had been bought direct from Colombians believed to be linked to the narco-terrorist group, Farc. A Dublin criminal, aged in his mid-60s, was a member of a group of senior criminals who organised and paid for the shipment was Dunne's boss.
In order to meet his payment commitments to the Colombians, he directed Dunne to begin a campaign of terrorising drug dealers who owed debts to the gang. Dunne "bought" debts from other big dealers and sent gunmen around the city calling in payments, using torture, beatings and threats of assassination. By the start of last year Dunne also appears to have fallen out with former associate Cronin.
He had Cronin and his friend John Maloney, 26, set up and shot dead as they sat in a car off Summerhill in the north inner city in January last year. Gardai believe that the assassin, fearing for his own life, fled to Spain. But he was tracked down and murdered on Dunne's orders. His remains have not been found. Also in January 2009, Dunne ordered the assassination of yet another associate, Graham McNally, 34, who was shot dead two days after returning to Dublin from hiding in Holland.
In March Michael Murray, 41, was shot dead in Kippure Park. The body of Paul Smith, 34, also from Finglas, was found dumped on waste ground near Balbriggan in June. Yet another victim was David Thomas, 43, shot dead at the Drake Inn in Finglas in October.
The killing continued into the start of this year with the murder of John Paul Joyce, 29, a member of the travelling community and a major distributor of heroin and cocaine based in the Coolock area. Joyce and his associates had had a running battle with Dunne's gang for several years.
At least three other murders are attributed to Dunne but the victims cannot be named because of legal proceedings.
Dunne's intentions in his murder spree appear to have been to wipe out all real or suspected opposition. Some of the victims were shot because they had been actively considering shooting Dunne in revenge for previous killings he had committed.
Others were killed because Dunne suspected they might be informants. One of the striking aspects of Dunne's bloody career is that the murders and his involvement in what is possibly the largest heroin and cocaine operation in the history of the State all took place while he was on bail on charges dating from 2002.
In June that year he was caught with a haul of cocaine and ecstasy when he was stopped by gardai in his car in Finglas. Later the same year he was again stopped in his car by gardai in Cabra and this time they found a badly beaten man tied up in the boot. Dunne was charged with abduction but again given bail and allowed to mount repeated legal challenges, keeping him out of prison on bail. Then in November 2007 he was yet again arrested, this time near the scene of an attempted armed robbery .
He was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery but again was released on bail.
His most recent court appearance was in January this year and was for failing to follow a garda's direction in October 2008, a relatively minor charge compared to the others. At the hearing Dunne complained of a garda and media conspiracy against him that would prevent him from receiving a fair hearing on offences. The judge rejected his argument, saying that if he felt he had been defamed he should take libel proceedings.
Dunne subsequently sent legal letters to a number of newspapers. He also unsuccessfully sought all information relating to him on the Garda's computerised information system, Pulse.
Dunne had claimed that reports, identifying him with the nickname "the Don" were putting his life in jeopardy.
Dunne was sitting with family and associates in the Fassaugh Pub in Fassaugh Avenue in Cabra when two gunmen walked in.
The assassins ordered everyone in the pub on to the ground and targeted Dunne who, according to local sources, "froze" in his chair. He was hit by up to eight bullets in the chest and head and died almost instantly.
The two gunmen walked out to a waiting car, where a driver and a back-up gunman were waiting. Gardai yesterday had only a vague description of the car, saying it was a silver or light-coloured family saloon similar to a Ford Mondeo or VW Passat.
They also asked anyone who was in the "packed" pub at the time of the murder to come forward.