Man shot dead was killed by Limerick gang over drug debt
A YOUNG father was shot dead and dumped in a shallow grave by members of the country's most dangerous criminal gang over a small outstanding drugs debt.
Gardai were last night searching for two young members of the McCarthy-Dundon gang in Limerick following the murder of drug addict Lee Slattery (24), who was from Monabraher Road, Ballynanty in Limerick city.
He suffered at least three gunshot wounds before his body was thrown into a grave and buried on the outskirts of Moyross.
As part of intensive follow-up investigations, gardai last night recovered a firearm near where the victim's remains were found in the Delmege House estate. The handgun will be forensically examined to see if it was used in Slattery's murder.
The victim was a father of one young child and had a small number of previous convictions, including theft in 2008 and possession of drugs in 2006.
He was a regular drug user but it is also believed that he was engaged in small-time dealing. However, he was not regarded by gardai as a significant figure in the city's criminal fraternity.
Gardai believe those responsible for the murder are criminals who are based in the Moyross area of the city and connected to the McCarthy-Dundon criminal gang.
One theory being investigated is that Slattery fell into a drugs debt with members of the outfit and was unable to repay the amount outstanding.
A source said the murder could also be interpreted "as a message from senior criminals to those in debt to pay up what they owe immediately . . . or else".
Faced with round-the-clock surveillance from gardai, Limerick's gangs are finding it increasingly tough to conduct their illegal trade.
One of those who gardai suspect has information on the murder is a 17-year-old criminal from the northside of the city.
Despite his youth, he is regarded as a ruthless individual with an extremely violent streak, who is more than capable of carrying out such a crime.
The teen has twice been arrested this year in connection with attempts to murder a notorious criminal connected to the Collopy criminal gang.
The other individual whom officers are seeking in connection with the Slattery murder investigation is a young man from the Moyross area of the city.
Lee Slattery was reported to gardai as missing by his father over the weekend. He was last seen in the Ballynanty area last Thursday night.
His family conducted their own searches throughout the Moyross vicinity in recent days and a relation made the discovery of the shallow grave on Monday afternoon.
Supt John Gilligan described the murder as a "desperate crime" and said the investigation was in its early stages.
Officers in Limerick are appealing for further public information regarding two particular occasions.
Slattery was seen up to midnight last Thursday in the Ballynanty area and anyone who noticed suspicious activity here or in the area where his body was recovered between last Thursday night and Friday morning is asked to contact gardai immediately.
"There are people out there with some information and we are anxious that those people come forward in confidence," Supt Gilligan said.
Gardai can be contacted on 061 456980 or the garda confidential line at 1800 666 111.