THE family of a missing Dublin man say they "fear the worst" and suspect he has been targeted by a crime mob because he "knew too much" about a gangland murder.
William 'Willie' Maughan (34) and his Latvian girlfriend Anna Varslavane (21) - who have both disappeared - were last seen nine days ago in the Gormanston area of Co Meath.
William's family, who live in Tallaght, have grave fears for their safety and believe they have been taken by a criminal gang.
"My son knew something that he should not have known and that is why they have been taken away," his father Joseph told the Herald.
While stressing that his son is "not a criminal", he said he suspects his disappearance is linked to knowledge of a gangland murder.
William's mother Helen was fighting back tears as she spoke of the missing couple.
"I don't want to accept that anything bad has happened and I just want them back. Please, if anyone has any information, please come forward, we are all heartbroken," she said.
"Our son is not a criminal and his girlfriend is an innocent girl who has no family in this country. We want them back no matter what," Joseph said.
"We are fearing the worst but praying to God for the best."
It is understood that gardai are investigating a possible connection between the disappearances and an organised crime gang operating in the area.
The leader of the drug gang is a settled Traveller in his early 30s who is described as being extremely ruthless.
He is currently before the courts on separate charges.
Gardai say that William, who had a drug problem, was not involved in serious crime.
But security sources confirmed he had been associated with the Traveller and may have had knowledge of a major crime last year.
William and Anna had been living in a mobile home on land just off the M1 motorway at Gormanstown in recent months.
A plumber by trade, the missing man stopped working due to his drug habit but recently told his parents he was going to make a fresh start.
He and his girlfriend were moving back to the family home in West Dublin on the day they went missing.
He last spoke to his mother at around 2pm on Tuesday, April 14. Helen believes they were abducted as she was on her way to pick them up.
"William had arranged to come home that day and I was on my way to collect him. He said he was breaking his links to the people he was associated with and didn't want them to know that he was leaving," she said.
Helen said she received a call from Anna's phone as she was passing Dublin Airport on her way to Gormanston.
"One of my children answered and he could hear voices in the background, but no one spoke into the phone," she said.
"When I got to where I was to pick him up there was no sign of William or Anna. I was told they had left to go into Stamullan and someone else said they had gone to Spain.
"I got a really bad feeling that something terrible had happened - I knew these people were covering up something."
Gardai have searched several properties in the area and a quarry.
It is understood gardai have established that William and his girlfriend got a taxi at 1.15pm to the place he had arranged to meet his mother.
The phone he was using last pinged off a mast in Gormanston at 2.57pm - around one hour after he had last spoken to her.
Anyone with information is asked to contact gardai on 01 801 0600 or the Missing Persons Helpline, 1890 4425852.