Sunday 19 February 2017

From modest Cabra home to country's top cigarette smuggler - the life and crimes of Noel 'Kingsize' Duggan

Published 24/03/2016 | 12:20

A garda at the scene of the shooting in The Mill, Ratoath, Co Meath. Inset: Noel ‘Kingsize’ Duggan, who was shot dead
A garda at the scene of the shooting in The Mill, Ratoath, Co Meath. Inset: Noel ‘Kingsize’ Duggan, who was shot dead
Noel Duggan Picture Sunday World
A hearse arrives to remove the body of Noel 'Kingsize' Duggan from the murder scene in Ratoath

Noel ‘Kingsize’ Duggan rose from a modest council home to run one of the country’s most sophisticated cigarette smuggling operations.

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The 56-year-old former butcher has been described as a “shrewd criminal” who never got his own hands dirty.

“Duggan was a planner more than anything else,” a senior source explained. “He wouldn’t have been violent but he wouldn’t have thought twice about getting somebody else to dish out a beating.”

Duggan grew up on Carnlough Road in Cabra, North Dublin and he became a close friend of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch at an early age. The pair remained friendly all their lives and it was this friendship that gardaí suspect led to last night’s fatal shooting in Ratoath, Co Meath.

During the 80s Duggan was involved in low-level crime including burglaries and handling stolen goods.

However, even in his younger days, he generally opted for a hands off approach to crime.

“In the mid 1980s carjacking and joyriding were big back then in Cabra. But Duggan was too cute to get involved in anything like this.”

Read More: Archbishop of Dublin condemns gangland-style murder of Noel 'Kingsize' Duggan

He had several convictions for receiving stolen goods, forgery and burglary but did not come to the attention of gardaí for several years.

“Kingsize knew the gardaí were watching him so he was always very careful. He would know the name of a garda if they stopped him.

“Officers wouldn’t catch him with anything. He wouldn’t have his tax so much as a day out of date.”

For several years, he operated a thriving cash and carry business on Queen Street near Smithfield in Dublin's north inner-city, which he used as a cover for his smuggling operation.

He made a fortune from Ireland's illegal cigarette trade and was regarded by gardaí as the biggest single wholesaler of illicit tobacco in the 90s.

Gardaí believe he sourced his tobacco in Africa and used a sophisticated smuggling network to land it in Dublin.

His racket in smuggled cigarettes was so big that the retailers representative group RGDATA complained to the government that their members were losing huge amounts of revenue as a result.

Read More: Locals' shock after 'Kingsize' is shot dead outside his home

In 1996, a Garda operation - Operation Nicotine - was launched to target Duggan's multi-million pound business.

He was targeted by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and served with a tax assessment of €4m.

He was eventually forced to hand over the keys of several inner-city properties to CAB, which were auctioned off to pay a final settlement of €2m.

In 2003, the CAB confiscated a five-storey apartment and retail block Eagle House in the heart of Dublin's Smithfield which was owned by him and another.

After this he attempted to rebrand himself as an honest businessman.

However, gardaí believe he remained heavily involved in the illegal cigarette trade and worked with ex-Provos based in the border area.

A source explained that Duggan arranged jobs for these ex-Provos including sourcing cars and arranging cigarette deals.

He has no convictions in the state since 2001 and possibly even earlier.

In 2013 he became embroiled in a dispute with former gang boss John Gilligan after the latter’s release from prison.

In an interview with the Sunday World Duggan claimed Gilligan was attempting to extort cash from him.

He said: “Nobody puts the squeeze on me. Let me tell you that the man who rang me won’t ring me again.”

Duggan had three adult children, two boys and one girl, and sources said he recently became a grandfather.

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