Saturday 1 October 2016

Shrewd criminal who made millions - but never got his own hands dirty

Cathal McMahon

Published 25/03/2016 | 02:30

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 58-year-old former butcher has been described as a "shrewd criminal" who never got his own hands dirty.

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 Wednesday night's fatal shooting in Ratoath, Co Meath.

During the 1980s, 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," said a source.

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

The body of Noel Duggan is removed from the scene. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
The body of Noel Duggan is removed from the scene. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Forensics officers at the scene of Noel Duggan’s murder. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Noel 'Kingsize' Duggan

"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"He wouldn't have his tax so much as a day out of date."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 1990s.

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 group RGDATA complained to the government that members were losing huge amounts of revenue.

In 1996, 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 the CAB, which were auctioned off to pay a final settlement of €2m.

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

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

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

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

Irish Independent

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