Wednesday 19 June 2019

Fears of further deadly feud violence as gangland boss released

Cornelius Price
Cornelius Price
'Price (37) is expected by gardaí to become an active participant and prime target in the deadly Drogheda feud.' Stock photo: PA Archive/PA Images

Ken Foy

Gardaí fear the release of a major gangland figure will spark further violence in the deadly Drogheda feud.

Cornelius Price leaves prison this weekend after being officially warned by gardaí there is an active threat to his life from a number of criminal elements.

A special security plan involving prison bosses and senior gardaí has been put in place ahead of his expected release this morning.

Price (37) is expected by gardaí to become an active participant and prime target in the deadly Drogheda feud.

Independent.ie can reveal that at least half a dozen of his close associates have arrived back from England for his release.

Sources say Price plans to leave the country for a holiday in Italy with his wife and children in the coming days.

If this happens, it will be a short-term relief for gardaí who suspect he will become a major player in the spiralling Drogheda feud.

While in jail, the criminal was involved in a number of rows and feuds which led him to be transferred to different jails and isolation units.

He was suspected of ordering dozens of attacks against his enemies and perceived rivals, including an incident where he is alleged to have forced a Brazilian inmate to stab a rival in a botched attack.

Gardaí say they are "extremely concerned" ahead of Price's release.

He has completed a three-year sentence for reckless endangerment of a garda at Balbriggan garda station in 2014 following a trial at Dublin Circuit Court.

His associates are suspected of involvement in three gangland murders and while not a suspect himself for any of the three murders, Price's associates are the chief suspects for the murder of Benny Whitehouse, a 36-year-old man who was shot dead in September, 2014.

While he is not a suspect himself in any of the three killings, his associates are the chief suspects for the murder of Benny Whitehouse, a 36-yearold man who was shot dead in September 2014.

The gang suspected of killing Whitehouse are also chief suspects for the suspected murders of Tallaght man Willie Maughan (34) and his partner Anna Varslavane (21).

They were last seen near Price’s house in the Gormanston area on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 14, 2015.

Independent.ie previously revealed that the gang boss taunted and laughed at gardai as they carried out searches for the missing couple in the summer of 2015.

Price’s mob are also believed to have been behind a sickening incident in August 2016, when the grave of Willie Maughan’s brother at Bohernabreena Cemetery in Tallaght was dug up.

Price was in jail at the time.

The sinister incident occurred just a day after Michael’s father Joe appealed for information to help find the remains of his son Willie.

It is believed that he and his partner were shot dead and their bodies burnt in a bonfire.

Price’s compound in Gormanston has been the subject of major garda surveillance operations and has also been raided on a number of occasions.

His gang were also investigated for a pipe bomb attack at the home of Willie Maughan’s sister Martina in Rathfarnham in October 2015.

Price spent almost a year in custody on remand after gardai went to the High Court in January 2016 to object to him being allowed out on bail in relation to the serious charges he was facing.

In 2016, Price was cleared of charges of attacking two close associates of slain Benny Whitehouse in an incident in which a Stanley blade was used at a house in Balbriggan.

In November 2015, he was cleared of reckless endangerment charges in relation to a terrifying feud-related incident at a Balbriggan school two years earlier.

But the gangster’s luck finally ran out when a jury convicted him in February 2017 of engaging in conduct that created a substantial risk of death or serious harm to Garda Gary Dillane.

The Criminal Assets Bureau has done a detailed profile on his mob and handed them a €170,000 cash bill.

Just days before CAB produced their bill, the paranoid criminal had built a 12ft wall around his home compound which is said to be now in “pristine condition” ready for his release this weekend.

Price, who is closely linked to gangsters in the capital as well as counties Meath and Louth, is also understood to have a relationship with a mob based in Co Sligo, which detectives have been investigating.

Irish Independent

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