Gang figures suspects in haulier murder
GANGLAND figures are the prime suspects for the savage murder of Dundalk haulier Kieran Smyth, whose body was found in a cattle pen outside Ashbourne, Co Meath at the weekend.
But the motive for the brutal killing, in which Smyth was abducted and then shot twice in the head with a double barrelled sawn-off shotgun, has not yet been established.
Senior gardai said last night that criminals, rather than subversives, were emerging as "the likely suspects at this stage" but admitted they had yet to collect firm evidence to pinpoint the culprits.
Smyth had a wide range of associates among criminals operating in the border region and in Dublin, as well as drug and cigarette smugglers based in the Netherlands and was also connected to the former 'director of operations' of the Real IRA.
"He was a typical border 'wide boy' who would turn his hand to anything to make a few bob," one experienced Garda officer said last night.
Smyth was wanted by Dutch police in connection with a smuggling operation and the Dutch authorities were issuing a warrant for his arrest to the gardai.
He was also known to have been an associate of Dublin criminal mastermind John Cunningham, currently on trial in Amsterdam for allegedly trafficking multi-million pound shipments of drugs and guns from the Netherlands.
Smyth had also been on the Garda suspect list in the past in connection with an £8m shipment of cannabis and a con signment of 25 guns seized by gardai in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan in December 1998.
That shipment had been sent here from the Netherlands, allegedly organised by Cunningham from his Amsterdam base.