Murder victim was a 'double agent' suspect
Published 29/04/2007 | 00:11
JIM CUSACK NOEL Campion, the latest victim of gangland violence in Limerick, was killed because he was suspected of playing a dangerous game of double agent between the two warring factions in the city. He was also suspected of being a Garda informant, according to local sources.
Campion, 35, a long-time member of the McCarthy-Dundon faction, was suspected of betraying the gang after falling under the influence of a leading member of the Keane faction while serving time in Portlaoise Prison for armed robbery.
He was complicit in last September's murder of McCarthy-Dundon gang member "Fat Frankie" Ryan on orders from the Keane gang figure in Portlaoise.
There was widespread celebration of Campion's murder in the Southill area of the city last night and on Friday night as he was widely despised for his acts of random violence and intimidation. The areas where the street parties were taking place were being heavily patrolled by gardai for fear of outbreaks of shooting.
As a young man Campion, and other members of his gang, specialised in stealing cars in Limerick and driving into the countryside to attack and rob farmers living in isolated areas. Several of the robberies involved shocking acts of violence on elderly farmers.
His brother William is serving life imprisonment for the murder of 68-year-old farmer, Paud Skehan, who had been tortured and was found hanging upside down, from the banisters in his farmhouse in Co Clare. He later died from his injuries.
Noel Campion's killers are believed to be two well-known members of the McCarthy-Dundon faction, both with extensive criminal records. Campion was betrayed by associates who informed the assassins that he would be on his way to a garage in the town from his home in Pineview Gardens, Moyross on Thursday morning. Campion was the pillion passenger on a motorcycle when the gunmen approached at Thomondgate in broad daylight. He was hit by three bullets as he tried to run away from the approaching gunmen.
It is thought possible that Campion may have been blamed for the seizure of a shipment of weapons being brought into the country by the McCarthy-Dundons, including two rocket launchers, assault rifles and handguns. The weapons were to be used by the McCarthy-Dundons to finish off their feud with the rival Keanes, both sides vying to control the drugs trade in Munster.
The McCarthy-Dundons are also suspected of enlisting the help of the dissident republican faction, the Continuity IRA, which has been supplying them with under-car bombs. It is suspected that in return for their expertise, the CIRA were to be paid off with the rocket launchers to be used to attack the PSNI.
Shortly after Campion's murder, gardai arrested one of his associates who was carrying a handgun and averted what could have been a retaliatory killing. A 16-year-old youth was injured on Friday morning when a man shot at him in the Moyross area.
It is unclear what, if any, revenge killings will take place as Campion was, finally, estranged from both factions.
Local people described Campion as a gun-for-hire who enjoyed inflicting violence on people. He was described by one man as a "notorious bastard" and added that very few people would be sad to see his departure.
Only last week Campion harangued Minister for Defence and local TD, Willie O'Dea as he canvassed in the Moyross area. Campion was apparently annoyed that he was facing a bill of ?4,500 for the return of ponies he kept near his home.