Litany of clues help gardai to close net on Melanie's killers
The killers of Melanie McCarthy McNamara left behind a trail of clues to their identity.
Last night garda forensic and ballistic experts were carrying out a top-priority examination of a litany of items to establish DNA and fingerprint evidence to help unmask the gunman and his accomplices.
The panic-stricken killers abandoned their stolen getaway car without setting it on fire and also left behind a shotgun, a pair of gloves, a scarf and two spent and two live cartridges.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said last night he was very pleased with the progress made so far in the inquiry.
Armed garda patrols were again on the streets in potential flashpoint areas as 16-year-old Melanie's boyfriend, Christopher Moran, left a poignant message at the murder scene.
Mr Moran is believed by gardai to have been the intended target of the shotgun attack in Tallaght. But, instead, Melanie took the full brunt of one shotgun blast in the head.
In a floral tribute, Mr Moran wrote: "Baby, I'm so sorry. I love you with all my heart."
Gardai fear the murder will spark off an escalation of the row between two groups that has resulted in a spate of serious incidents in Tallaght and west Dublin over the past three years.
Commissioner Callinan appealed for calm in the tension-filled neighbourhoods.
He urged people with knowledge of the killers or the murder to make contact with the gardai.
The killers appeared to have prepared carefully for their planned hit and had stolen a Hyundai Santa Fe SUV in Rathmines three days before the shooting and fitted it with registration plates that had been stolen near Wood Quay.
However, they panicked when they realised they had shot a young girl and sped quickly from the murder scene in the Brookview estate, along Fortunestown Lane and into City West where they abandoned the vehicle at Bianconi Avenue without setting it ablaze.
The gardai later found a shotgun dumped nearby and also recovered two spent cartridges and two live ones as well as a pair of gloves and a scarf.
Detectives are also examining CCTV footage taken from cameras along the route used by the killers.
The Irish Traveller Movement said they acknowledged that the nature of Melanie's death had caused understandable shock and distress to the family as well as the community of west Tallaght and the wider Traveller community in Ireland.
The movement also appealed for calm and asked people to offer full co-operation to the gardai in their pursuit of the killers "in what is the appropriate way for justice to be done".
Mr Callinan commended the approach adopted by the Traveller Movement and said he agreed with their views.
Asked about the danger of the row spilling over into other areas, he said there were some very experienced officers involved in the investigation to ensure they bring their inquiries to a successful conclusion as quickly as possible."
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said he had absolute confidence in the gardai to fully investigate what he called an absolutely appalling and unacceptable incident. Gun law on the streets would not be acceptable in any circumstances, whether this was in Tallaght or any part of the country, he warned.
"Unfortunately, we have small groups of people within our society who have no respect for human life and no consideration about the impact of what they are doing," he added.