Garda delight as leader of feuding murder gang is jailed for 17 years
DETECTIVES were last night delighted at the jailing for 17 years of convicted gang boss Brian Rattigan for running his drugs gang by mobile phone from his cell in Portlaoise prison.
He is the first person in the country to be convicted of charges connected with directing the supply of drugs while in jail.
Rattigan (32), from Walkins-town, Dublin, had his sentence backdated to May 2008, when he was caught with a mobile and notebooks in his cell. The new sentence will run concurrently with the life term he is already serving for murder.
Judge Paul Butler, sitting with two others at the Special Criminal Court, said an aggravating factor in the case had been the fact that Rattigan had supplied drugs while in prison, something he described as "a very serious matter".
In mitigation, he accepted that while Rattigan had pleaded not guilty, he had fought the case on legal matters.
"The honesty of the witnesses was not in any serious matter impaired during the course of the trial," he added. He also accepted that Rattigan's actions had had a huge effect on himself, his friends and
family and had led to a fatality, adding that this was being taken into consideration.
Gardai in south Dublin who led the operation against Rattigan were delighted with the latest conviction.
A team of detectives out of Crumlin led by Det Supt Brian Sutton and his predecessor Denis Donegan spearheaded the operation against the gang boss.
The operation represents a notable success by the police against the gangs
Rattigan had been involved in a long running feud with former associate 'Fat' Freddie Thompson – a rivalry which claimed multiple lives in tit-for-tat atrocities.
Thompson now lives in Spain and Holland.
Rattigan's barrister, Brendan Grehan, told the court he had turned his life around in prison, doing courses on catering and a number of others on alternatives to violence. He said he had made the changes because of his 10-year-old daughter, Abbie.
Describing her as the "single most important factor in his life", Mr Grehan added: "They are quite close, and he has developed a strong relationship with her."
Mr Grehan added that in some respects Rattigan had reaped what he had sown, through losing several people close to him and not being able to enjoy a proper relationship with his daughter.
He presented certificates to show how Rattigan had completed a course in catering. He had also received A grades in addiction studies.
Rattigan had pleaded not guilty to the possession of heroin and two counts of possession of the drug for sale or supply in Hughes Road South, Walkinstown, Dublin, on May 21, 2008.
Judge Butler said that while it could be interpreted that he was trying to change his life, it remained only a possibility. On that basis, the court did not opt to suspend any of the 17-year term.
Rattigan showed no emotion as the verdict was read out. Afterwards, he thanked his legal team and spoke briefly with family members before being led away.
The court heard that during the raid on the house in Hughes Road South, gardai found five kilos of heroin valued at just under €1m and a Nokia phone in a shed, while a search of a bedroom yielded €36,000 in cash.
The following day they raided Rattigan's cell where they found a mobile phone, SIM cards and a notebook containing details of drug deliveries.
They discovered a series of text messages linked to Rattigan's SIM card to "Lips" and "Nat", both referring to his former partner, Natasha McEnroe. Other texts were sent to "Parro" and "Dicko".
Asked in court if he had any comment for the media, Rattigan replied: "You never do anything for me anyway, and if I say something you'd only twist it."
Speaking outside court, Det Supt Denis Donegan (retired) said the media had described Rattigan as a "dealer in death and destruction".
"Indeed, that's what he is," he said, adding: "I have advice for people who are thinking of taking up this kind of practice: that we're watching them, and we will stand in their way."
Rattigan stabbed criminal Declan Gavin to death in Crumlin in August 2001.