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Monday 17 December 2018

Criminals head home from Britain to join spiralling gang feud

Hunt: Garda activity at an area on Cement Road, Drogheda, included searches using a digger. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
Hunt: Garda activity at an area on Cement Road, Drogheda, included searches using a digger. Picture: Kyran O'Brien

Ken Foy

A number of Irish criminals based in the UK have returned to Ireland in recent days as a gangland feud in Drogheda continues to escalate.

The returning criminals are thought to have close links to Owen Maguire (34), who was shots six times at a halting site in July, and have returned to “reinforce” a gang associated with him.

Mr Maguire has remained in hospital since the attack four months ago. However, his associates are locked in a continuing feud with another gang thought to be behind the attack on Mr Maguire.

On Sunday night, a 22-year-old man with links to the Maguire faction was kidnapped, stripped and stabbed.

It is now feared tensions will continue to mount following the return of the individuals from the UK.

The feud has spiralled out of control in recent days, leading to the cancellation of all annual Garda leave in the Louth division with “an all hands on deck” approach to the crisis now being taken.

In the latest incident, a petrol bomb was thrown at a vacant house on the Rathmullen Road in the town at 8pm on Monday.

It is thought this attack was carried out by associates of the Maguire criminal gang.

There has been a huge increase in armed patrols in Drogheda, and the armed Regional Support Unit (RSU) is currently being deployed in the area on a 24-hour basis.

It can also be revealed that associates of Owen Maguire are understood to have offered €60,000 for the murder of their main rival in the bitter dispute, a 23-year-old drug dealer from the Moneymore estate. It was a car owned by this young criminal’s girlfriend which was targeted on Sunday afternoon, when a viable explosive device was placed in the exhaust pipe of the vehicle, leading to a major security alert.

Meanwhile, four of five men arrested late on Sunday in relation to the brutal kidnap and savage assault of a 22-year-old have been released without charge from Drogheda and Dundalk garda stations last night. A file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

They include a teenager, three men aged in their 20s and a man in his 40s. A father and son are among the five being quizzed for false imprisonment and assault.

They blamed the victim, who is originally from Dundalk and has “loose links” to the Maguire faction, for causing an explosion in the troubled Moneymore estate at around 9pm on Sunday when a Renault Megane filled with gas cylinders was set alight. He was abducted shortly after by a group of men who have links to the anti-Maguire faction and brought to a nearby house where he was brutally tortured.

Armed gardaí saved the young man’s life when they stormed the house to find him stripped naked in a bath.

He was bleeding heavily after being stabbed more than half-a-dozen times in the face, neck and torso, and gardaí believe he was about to be murdered before they intervened. It’s understood a gun was placed in the victim’s mouth during the ordeal. The gun was not recovered. The victim remained in a stable condition in hospital last night.

Searches at the halting site where Owen Maguire was shot in July ended yesterday with a mechanical digger being used to try to find “stolen property, drugs and cash”. However, nothing of significance was recovered.

The explosion in gang violence on Sunday happened as the tit-for-tat feud escalated in recent days with six separate attacks taking place between Thursday night and Friday.

Those incidents included four petrol bomb attacks and an assault on a teenager with a hatchet in the town.

There have been dozens of incidents of criminal damage causing hundreds of thousands of euro of damage as well as a number of special Garda interventions that prevented murder since the feud kicked off more than four months ago.

Irish Independent

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