Shotgun slaying sparks fears of inter-city turf war
GARDAI fear a notorious Limerick gang were involved in the latest gangland slaying, amid mounting fears of a bloody new turf war.
Ger Stanton (42) was brutally gunned down in front of his partner and her two children, who are both aged under five, in Cork on Wednesday night.
The children were sitting in a car parked outside Stanton's rented home at Westlawn in the Wilton suburb when they witnessed Stanton being caught full in the chest with a blast from a double-barrel shotgun close to his car.
Gardai last night described the murder as "callous, cold-blooded and calculated". Detectives said they were shocked that the gunman chose to carry out the execution-style killing fewer than 12ft away from the youngsters.
They fear the killing may be linked to a turf war between two Cork crime gangs -- one of which has connections to the notorious gang at the centre of Limerick's murderous feud.
Stanton -- who was well known to gardai and associated with one of Cork's biggest drug gangs -- was due to appear before the Circuit Criminal Court next month in relation to alleged drugs offences.
Gardai are now on alert in case of retaliatory attacks. A team of 40 gardai are investigating what is Cork's first gangland gun murder in three years -- just the fifth drug-related gang killing in 15 years.
Togher gardai appealed for witnesses to either the shooting or to the movements of a red 1992 Toyota LiteAce van fitted with bull bars, which was used as the getaway vehicle.
They admitted that they were puzzled by the choice of an 18-year-old van for the getaway.
"It is strange -- a bit bizarre. It is certainly not the kind of high-powered vehicle you might expect in this kind of case," Supt Charlie Barry said.
"But this was a particularly brutal and callous shooting and it took place in front of his partner and her two young children. This was a well-planned attack. We are now interested in a number of areas where the public might be of assistance to our inquiries."
Gardai are asking any member of the public who may have seen anything suspicious around Westlawn over the past week to contact them.
"Because this was obviously a very well-planned attack, that van may well have been in Waterfall and Westlawn a number of days before the shooting," Supt Barry added.
Gardai believe the gunman, who may have had an accomplice driving the getaway van, waited in Westlawn in the LiteAce, which was parked with a clear view of the front door of Stanton's home.
A sawn-off shotgun was used in the murder. The victim caught the full blast of two cartridges at close range. The gunman is described as 6ft tall, with dark clothing and wearing a balaclava. Stanton apparently tried to stagger back to the shelter of his terraced house but collapsed from his injuries on his driveway before he could reach his front door.
The gunman immediately fled the scene in the waiting van, which was later found burning in Waterfall, 12km outside Cork city. Stanton was rushed to Cork University Hospital (CUH) but he died shortly after arrival. A full post-mortem examination was carried out yesterday at CUH by the State Pathologist's Office. It confirmed the victim died from injuries consistent with a shotgun blast.
An incident room has now been established at Togher garda station, at 021 4947129.