Friday 19 January 2018

Convicted drug dealer shouted 'Ah don't' before being gunned down in front of children

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A convicted drug dealer shot at point-blank range in front of his horrified partner and two young children shouted "Ah don't" to a masked gunman seconds before his killing.

The partner of murder victim, Gerard 'Topper' Staunton (42), revealed he had just placed his seven year old daughter in the back seat of his new car when he was confronted by a masked gunman wielding a sawn-off shotgun outside their family home in Cork.

Mother of two, Karen Quilligan O'Flynn, said she screamed in horror as her partner was shot in front of their two children.

She put their two year old in the safety of the family home before running to her partner's aid.

She discovered him covered in blood and staggering as he tried to remain upright.

The seven-year-old child had managed to get back out of the back seat of the car and was staring at the tragedy unfolding on the family's front lawn at the Westlawn estate in Wilton, just off Cork's Sarsfield Road on January 20, 2010.

Mr Staunton, who had been shot twice, was gurgling his words and the last thing he said to his partner was "Jesus Christ".

He collapsed and, despite desperate efforts to save him, was pronounced dead before he could be transferred to hospital.

the revelations came as an inquest returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

Cork Coroner Philip Comyn was told by Supt Charlie Barry that while the Garda investigation is ongoing, no-one has been charged with the killing.

A 60-strong Garda investigation team conducted 500 inquiries, examined CCTV from 180 premises, took 600 statements and arrested seven people.

However, no-one has to date been charged with Mr Staunton's murder.

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, revealed that Mr Staunton died from severe haemorrhage and shock due to a shotgun wound to the chest.

The blast lacerated Mr Staunton’s heart, lungs and aorta.

The Cork Branch of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement issued a statement shortly after the murder claiming the Real IRA had executed Staunton as a convicted drug dealer.

Gardai followed a number of lines of inquiry and sought to clarify items of information received from the public.

Detectives particularly wanted to trace a young woman with blond hair accompanied by a young man and who were both seen in the Wilton area in the days before the killing.

The 18-year old van used as the getaway vehicle in the brutal gangland slaying was bought for less than €500 just hours before the shooting.

Staunton was a convicted drug dealer who was associated with one of Cork’s biggest drug gangs. He was scheduled to appear before Cork Circuit Criminal Court on drug charges the month after his killing.

Staunton was shot despite the fact his partner and her two children – aged just seven and two - were by his car just four meters away.

All three were deeply traumatised by having witnessed the shooting and the 42-year old’s desperate but doomed attempt to stagger back to the safety of his home.

The shooting was carried out by a lone gunman who was described as six feet tall, wearing dark clothing and a full balaclava.

He fled in the waiting 1992 Toyota LiteAce van which was fitted with distinctive bull bars.

Gardai have not ruled out the possibility that the gunman may have had an accomplice waiting in the van who then acted as the getaway driver.

The LiteAce was found burned out in Castlewhite, Waterfall, some 6.1km outside Cork city, a few hours after the shooting.

Detectives were sceptical of the Real IRA claim and examined another theory that Staunton was killed by a rival gang with strong links to a Limerick group.

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