FORMER garda John Kerins, who was shot dead in his home, was on the periphery of a criminal gang linked to the disappearance of his near neighbour almost 18 months ago.
Dubliner Gerard Daly vanished from his home at Cornaveagh, Bailieborough, Co Cavan, in June last year and has not been seen since.
Gardai have carried out extensive inquiries here and overseas in an attempt to establish if he is still alive but have had no success.
Mr Daly moved to Cornaveagh from Tallaght in south Dublin where he was known to have associated with gangland figures and dissident republicans.
He set up base in the rural area, close to the home of Mr Kerins, and the two were known to each other.
Gardai said there was no evidence to suggest that Mr Kerins had been a central figure in the gang that had apparently clashed with Mr Daly before he disappeared.
But he was interviewed by detectives as part of the investigation.
It was not the first time that the colourful Mr Kerins, from Co Meath, had been subjected to garda inquiries.
In 2002, he was investigated by officers in connection with an incident in which a garda torch was allegedly thrown at a stolen car, which crashed at speed through a checkpoint.
Some of the occupants of the car alleged that a torch was thrown through the window of the vehicle and it struck 18-year-old David Herbert on the head.
An inquest heard that Mr Herbert said, "I think my head is busted." The youths abandoned the car shortly afterwards, and then stole another car to make their way back to Dublin.
Mr Herbert went home and his father noticed he had a bruise on the left side of his head. His parents were unable to awake him the next morning and he was pronounced dead in hospital.
Investigating gardai prepared a file on the incident for the DPP, who later ruled against criminal charges.
During the subsequent inquest, Gda Kerins said in evidence that he tried to shine his torch on the car's occupants. He suddenly became aware he was standing too close to his vehicle and spun around. "My torch left my right hand. I didn't know it," he added.
The torch was later found on the passenger seat of the car. The inquest recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.
Mr Kerins went on sick leave from the force in 2005. Five years later he was discharged on medical grounds.
He later became involved in a security firm and was at one stage under investigation by the national bureau of criminal investigation in connection with allegations of property disappearing from a building site.
But he was exonerated of any wrongdoing after garda inquiries.
Mr Kerins was currently before the courts in Cork on three charges.
He faced two charges of possession of stolen property, including plant and farm machinery, to a total value of €20,000. The case was recently referred from the district court to Cork Circuit Court for trial.
A separate charge of being in a vehicle without the owner's consent was listed for the Cork District Court later this month.