Monday 17 December 2018

Fears thug who dismembered body with chainsaw may flee country after €120k drugs bust

Keith Ennis and Philip County
Keith Ennis and Philip County

Ken Foy

There are fears a Dublin gangland “enforcer” may attempt to flee the country after being freed following his arrest in connection with a €120,000 drugs bust.

Philip County (30), who was convicted of dismembering the body of another criminal with a chainsaw and dumping it in a lake in the Netherlands, was released from garda custody over the weekend along with two close female associates.

County and the two women had been arrested as part of a joint garda and customs operation on Friday involving the seizure of 6kg of herbal cannabis that had originated in Spain.

A quantity of cocaine was also recovered in the targeted operation in Edgeworthstown, Co Longford.

County, who is originally from Lucan, is expected to appear before a court sitting in the coming weeks after his release from custody on Saturday.

However, sources have told the Herald that there are “legitimate fears” that the thug, who has links to the deadly Kinahan cartel, may now flee the country.

“This individual has links to a number of serious crime groupings abroad. While he has been based in Co Longford for the past number of weeks, there are legitimate fears he may now flee,” a senior source said last night.

Gardai suspect that County had organised the delivery of drugs from Spain, only for them to be intercepted in the postal system last week.

In May, County and two other men were sentenced to two years in prison for hiding the body of Keith Ennis in 2009. The offence is a felony under Dutch law.

During the Ennis murder trial in Holland earlier this year, convicted drug dealer County did not show up for the case because his family were under threat and had received a bullet in the post, according to his lawyer.

However, this was rubbished by Dutch prosecutors, who described him as “an enforcer” for an Irish organised crime gang.

It was reported at the time that County was in Brazil, but sources say he has been back in Ireland for a number of months.

Dutch judges said in their verdict that the outcome of the investigation into Ennis’s violent death was “highly unsatisfactory, especially for Ennis’s next of kin, who do not know who murdered him”.

Ennis (29) was stabbed to death in February 2009 in an apartment in Rotterdam, the second biggest city in the Netherlands.

He had suffered multiple stab wounds to his head and face and several knife slashes to his back, penetrating vital organs.

Afterwards, his body was cut up with a chainsaw.

The head was severed and hidden in a suitcase, which was dumped in a canal.

The remains were found on February 24, 2009, in Het IJ, a lake in the heart of Amsterdam.

It took weeks before Dutch police identified the victim via Interpol and gardai.

Dubliners Kenneth Brunell, of Palmerstown, and Barry McArdle, of Drimnagh, were extradited from Ireland in 2014 to stand trial.

Brunell and McArdle have denied any wrongdoing. They insist that they had never even met Ennis.

Because murder could not be proven, the men were sentenced only because of their “gruesome and shameless treatment” of Ennis’s body.

Brunell (29) had served his time awaiting trial and McArdle (30) was freed while awaiting an appeal.

While on bail, County posted pictures on his Facebook

account posing with luxury cars in Bangkok and Abu Dhabi.

He had also spent much of his time in Australia.

The thug, who is originally from Foxdene Gardens in Lucan, became friendly with Ennis in the months before the murder.

At the time of his extradition to the Netherlands in April 2011, County was serving a prison term in Mountjoy after being caught in possession of ecstasy tablets, in a raid in which bulletproof vests were seized.

He did not oppose the extradition order, which was granted at the High Court almost eight months after Dutch authorities requested it.

 The feared criminal was being held in solitary confinement in a Dutch prison for several months while awaiting trial.

In his evidence, County said that Ennis was murdered in an apartment in Rotterdam, where the victim had gone to socialise with County, McArdle and Brunell.

County told police he stepped out to get liquor and, when he came back, he found Ennis had been stabbed to death.

According to County, a heated discussion while they played PlayStation had turned violent.

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