News Irish News

Sunday 8 December 2019

Major drug trafficker shot dead in garden while trying to flee gunmen

Shot: Christopher Zambra
Shot: Christopher Zambra
Firemen working to extinguish the fire engulfing the hitmen’s car, which they set alight before fleeing.
The burnt-out getaway car used by the killers and which was abandoned in nearby Ben Madigan Road. Picture: Doug O'Connor
Members of the gardai at the scene of a fatal shooting of Christopher Zambra on the Cooley Road, Drimnagh, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Tom Brady and Conor Feehan

A MAJOR drug trafficker died in a suburban garden as he tried to flee his attackers in what is being described as a well-executed gangland hit.

At least eight shots were fired at Christopher 'Git' Zambra as he vainly ran for cover after his car was hemmed in.

One of the getaway cars was later found burnt out, along with a handgun used in the savage attack.

Zambra (39), from Galtymore Road in Drimnagh, in Dublin's south inner city, was a full-time drug dealer on the southside of the capital.

He was also a suspect for the murder of John 'Champagne' Carroll and faced trial twice for the trial but was not convicted.

Gardai said last night that Zambra was on his way to visit his sister, Sharon, when his beige-coloured Audi A4 car was hemmed in at Cooley Road, in Drimnagh, by two other vehicles – a silver Nissan Qashqai and a silver saloon.

At least three men were involved in the attack at around 3pm.

Six shots were fired initially from the handgun into the Audi and Zambra, who was on his own in the car, climbed into the front passenger seat and stumbled out of the vehicle. Shots hit the windscreen, and more blasted out the driver's window.

He ran along the pavement and into the garden of a house three doors away.

Zambra then collapsed in the garden and the gunman fired two or three further shots into his face.

The hitmen then made their escape and abandoned the Qashqai a short distance from the murder scene, at Benmadigan Road in Drimnagh, where they set it ablaze with the handgun inside the vehicle.

The car was burnt out in a hurry, and the driver's door was left open as the gunman was most likely picked up in another car and driven away.

Gardai believe the Qashqai had been stolen recently. Zambra was pronounced dead at the scene and his body was later removed to the city morgue where a post-mortem examination will be carried out today.

The area was sealed off by local gardai as they erected a blue forensic tent in the front garden of a house at the junction of Cooley Road and Kilworth Road, as they awaited the arrival of officers from the technical bureau to carry out a detailed forensic examination. Spent cartridges also littered the ground in front of the car.

"Seven shots, then two shots, then five shots. Fourteen shots in total. That is what I heard," said one local man.

A number of people could be seen arriving at a house close to where he was gunned down. Their cries of grief could be heard along the quiet road as they were comforted inside.

Gardai said they were pursuing a number of possible motives for the shooting, which they said was professionally planned and executed.

Zambra was known to be close to two organised crime gang leaders, who are suspected of organising the murder of Real IRA boss in Dublin Alan Ryan, who was shot dead on the northside of the city in September 2012.

One of the gang bosses is now living in Co Cavan while the other has been lying low since the Ryan murder but has continued his involvement in organising drugs shipments into the country.

Zambra was also connected to associates of the two gangs involved in a deadly Crumlin-Drimnagh feud but did not get directly involved in the row, which claimed more than a dozen lives.

He was said to have been a very active criminal, who had made a number of enemies in the past few years. because of his gangland as well as personal activities.

Gardai said that quite a few avenues of inquiry would be explored in the coming days to establish a firm motive for the attack.

Last night the investigation team met at Sundrive Road garda station to review the progress made so far in their inquiries.

Zambra was cleared of ordering the February 2009 murder of John 'Champagne' Carroll in Grumpy Jacks in the Coombe, Dublin.

There was uproar in the Central Criminal Court as Zambra, of Galtymore Road, Drimnagh, was acquitted by a majority verdict last summer following a two-month trial.

It was the second time that Mr Zambra had faced trial for murder after a jury failed to reach a verdict on the charge against him in 2011.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News