Suspect quizzed by gardai over cold-blooded gangland murder
Published 22/02/2010 | 05:00
A SUSPECT arrested by gardai yesterday in connection with the weekend gangland murder faces up to seven days of questioning about the cold-blooded incident in which 10 bullets were pumped into the victim.
The suspect, who is in his late 20s, is believed by investigating officers to have been with Aidan Byrne minutes before he was shot dead while sitting in a parked car on Saturday night.
Byrne (33), a father of one from St Mary's Mansions in Dublin's north inner city, had been warned several times by gardai in the past year that his life was in danger.
"He knew there was a price on his head," one officer said last night.
This was the sixth gangland murder since the start of the year -- five in Dublin and one in Cork.
Byrne, who was originally from Oriel Street, was well known to gardai and was regarded as being involved in robbery and drug trafficking.
He received a five-year prison sentence in the Central Criminal Court in 1999 for raping two prostitutes in a brothel in Dublin.
Late last year he was arrested and charged in connection with a robbery of electrical goods in the capital. He was taken into custody but released from Cloverhill Prison earlier this year.
Gardai are working on the theory that Byrne was murdered as part of the infamous north inner-city feud, which had already claimed three other lives since 2006.
But he was also under threat as a result of being caught with a firearm outside the home of one of the country's most notorious crime gang bosses in Finglas on the west side of Dublin early last year.
Gardai arrested Byrne and another man for questioning about that incident and had been awaiting directions from the DPP on whether criminal charges should be brought against them.
Officers are satisfied that Byrne was lured to his death on Saturday night.
He was collected by an associate in a 2008-registered dark grey Toyota Corolla and driven to the North Circular Road area around 8.30pm.
The driver parked the car in a cul-de-sac at Drumalee Avenue and then got out of the vehicle and walked into a nearby house.
The gunman was lying in wait nearby. As soon as he realised that Byrne was in the car, he ran up to the Corolla and fired 10 shots with a semi-automatic pistol, hitting his victim in the chest, stomach and upper body.
The gunman then ran off down a laneway, which leads onto Drumalee Park, or possibly made his getaway through another route leading on to Aughrim Street. He was described as between 5ft 9in and 6ft tall, of thin build and wearing a grey tracksuit top and bottoms, or grey jeans.
Byrne has been linked to one of the feuding factions in the warfare, which erupted after well-known criminal Christy Griffin was arrested and charged with the rape of his partner's daughter.
Griffin was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
By then, the bloody feud had already claimed two lives. Gerard 'Batt' Byrne, from Ferryman's Crossing in Dublin's Docklands, was shot once in the head and five times in the chest outside a Mace shop in the financial services district on December 13, 2006.
A fortnight later, Stephen Ledden (28) was shot dead as he slept on a couch at his mother's home in Oriel Street in apparent retaliation for Gerard Byrne's shooting.
As the Emergency Response Unit was drafted into the area, gardai circulated a list of more than 30 potential assassination targets.
The third feud victim, Anthony Russell, was gunned down in the Ardlea Inn in Artane when he was shot several times in the chest.
The latest murder prompted calls from opposition politicians for stronger action from the Government on gun crime.
Labour TD Joe Costello said the shooting made it clear that the criminal gangs had no regard for human life.