Saturday 27 December 2014

This vicious gangland feud is far from over

Published 14/10/2012 | 05:00

After two murders in daylight and the drive-by shooting of a teenager, the level of violence rises

The Crumlin-Drimnagh feud, which gardai had hoped had died down two years ago, is again in full swing after last week's attack, which left an innocent 16-year-old seriously injured in an attack intended for a close associate of exiled gang leader, "Fat" Freddie Thompson.

The drive-by shooting on Wednesday night was, gardai now believe, a retaliatory attack for the murders last month of Gerard Eglington, 27, shot dead in front of two children in Portarlington, Co Laois, on September 23 and Declan O'Reilly, 32, again in front of his young son in south Dublin the following day, and are now regarded by gardai as marking the resumption of the feuding.

Those two murders bring the total killed in the feud to 18 since it started in 2000, when members of one gang fell out following the garda's seizure of a shipment of cocaine in Dublin city centre.

It had been hoped the feud had ended two years ago after the murder of the then leader of Thompson's rival gang, Anthony Cannon, 26, who was gunned down by a hired assassin in Ballyfermot in July 2009. After that murder, Thompson's rivals appeared to have more or less admitted defeat. Older criminals in Dublin also decreed that the feuding should end and both sides came together at Christmas that year and appeared to settle their differences during a party in a lap-dancing club.

However, incidents occurred and two of Thompson's close associates, a man and woman, were injured in a pub brawl last year in an attack by Gerard Eglington. There were also a number of outstanding grievances but there was no indication until recently that these would lead to a renewal of murderous violence.

The two murders last month appear to have been sparked by the re-emergence of a new generation of young gangsters, mostly still in their teens, in Thompson's rivals' gang. They are vying with Thompson's associates over the importation and distribution of heroin, synthetic opiate tablets bought over the Internet and smuggled cigarettes, gardai say. The cocaine market, the massive profits from which drove the original feuding, has collapsed but the gangs are still said to be raking in substantial profits from their new enterprises. Some are driving new luxury cars again, something that had not been seen since the introduction of the criminal assets seizure laws.

Wednesday night's attack was aimed at a close associate of Freddie Thompson who has been a target of the rival gang for several years and who regularly wears a bullet-proof jacket. He was a short distance away when a gunman fired two blasts into a house on Lismore Road hitting 16-year-old Stephen Hynes who just happened to be at the house. The intended target arrived later while Hynes was lying on the ground "pumping blood" according to onlookers. He was seriously injured but is recovering.

It has also been learned that only minutes earlier gardai had a confrontation with three other young men who appeared to have a sniper rifle on top of a garage roof a short distance from Lismore Road. A youth appeared to point the weapon at gardai and the situation came close to becoming "critical", according to sources with armed officers prepared to open fire. Three arrests were made and the weapon, which turned out to be a replica sniper rifle, seized. A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

There have been no arrests yet in the investigation into the murder of Declan O'Reilly who was shot dead as he walked along the South Circular Road in broad daylight with his nine-year-old son. Gardai believe his murder was ordered by the man believed currently to be running Freddie Thompson's gang since Thompson was extradited to Spain last year. This man, aged in his early 30s, was a close friend since childhood of Derek Glennon, 23, who O'Reilly stabbed to death in Mountjoy Prison in 2007. O'Reilly was acquitted of murdering Glennon last year after a jury accepted his plea that he stabbed Glennon in self-defence.

There are also no signs of a breakthrough in the investigation into the murder of Gerard Eglington whose murder, gardai now believe, was ordered by the same man who ordered O'Reilly's murder, though for other reasons.

There is considerable disquiet among gardai in the high crime divisions over the lack of overtime for murder investigations. "Very little" overtime was allowed in either murder investigation, according to sources last week, with detectives being ordered to take their four-day rest period rather than continue on the cases. This, the sources say, is breaking the continuity of the investigations. Previously detectives would have worked through their rostered days off for at least the first week of murder investigations but this is no longer the case.

Sunday Independent

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