Suspect in Lithuanian hit survived RIRA beating
A HITMAN who survived a brutal attack by Real IRA boss Alan Ryan is the prime suspect for the murder last month of Lithuanian gangster Gintaras Zelvys.
The 41-year-old convicted rapist was gunned down in front of his wife at his "cash-for-clothes" business premises in Rathcoole on May 1.
Zelvys, who had been jailed for seven years for extorting money with menaces from fellow eastern Europeans in Monaghan, was shot several times in the chest by a masked man armed with a sawn-off shotgun.
At first it was thought that Zelvys, described as a "terrifying brute", had been targeted by members of his own gang in a row over money.
And it was claimed that an eastern European former special forces soldier had carried out the killing.
However, it has emerged that the suspected gunman is a former member of the notorious Westies gang from Blanchards-town, west Dublin.
Aged in his mid-30s, he has more than 30 convictions for robbery, burglary and possession of weapons.
The suspect, who is also involved in stealing high-powered cars to order, was questioned in 1998 by gardai investigating the theft of the car used in the Omagh bombing.
Sources have revealed he was aligned to the dissident criminal gang headed by Alan Ryan, who was murdered in Dublin last September. However, a feud broke out, and the hitman was later lured into a trap in a park in north Dublin by Alan Ryan who attacked him, leaving him with serious injuries.
Last month, the former Westie was one of three men arrested and questioned by gardai investigating Zelvys's murder.
One of the others arrested is believed to have taken part in the killing while the third, a taxi driver, drove them from the scene.
Gardai have appealed for information on the whereabouts of a silver Audi A4 that was used by the killers.
Zelvys was a senior member of a major organised crime gang operating between Lithuania, Ireland and the UK. He had convictions for sexual assault, robbery and jail-breaking in his home country.
He also ran a smuggling operation in Portlaoise prison while serving time for extortion. After his release he was deported but returned after spending time in the UK.