Saturday 16 December 2017

Murdered man may have been tailed before gunman struck

Tom Brady and Luke Byrne

GARDAI believe the savage murder of a young man as he sat in the back of a friend's car was carefully planned and executed.

Detectives have not yet established a motive for the shooting but are following a couple of lines of inquiry.

Dean Johnston (20) was killed when a man walked up to the car, looked in to identify him and then fired five shots from a handgun into a rear passenger window. Gardai believe that a 9mm semi-automatic pistol was used in the murder.

Mr Johnston was shot in the head and shoulder and was pronounced dead at Tallaght Hospital on Wednesday night.

The shooting took place outside the home of the victim's best friend at Moorefield Avenue in Neilstown, west Dublin, at 8.30pm.

His friend's girlfriend was in the driver's seat of the red 96D VW Golf car and the two were waiting for the friend to come out when the gunman ran alongside the car.

The three of them had been together for much of the day and detectives have been trying to establish their movements earlier on Wednesday as they may have been tailed by the killer that evening.

Mr Johnston lived a few doors away from the shooting.

Last night, officers were checking out two possible motives for the attack.

Mr Johnston was under investigation for his alleged involvement in an incident in a nightclub at the weekend and gardai are checking out whether this may have been linked to the shooting.

Gunman

They are also looking for any connection to Mr Johnston's arrest in July 2008 when he was caught in possession of a bag of ecstasy tablets with a street value of €30,000.

The bag had been handed to Mr Johnston, who was then aged 17, just minutes before he was arrested.

He subsequently pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply and was given the Probation Act in 2009.

The attacker has been described as of stocky build. He was wearing a grey hooded top and grey bottoms and was in his early 20s, gardai said.

Following the attack, the gunman left on foot in the direction of the Neilstown road.

Mr Johnston was not regarded as a major criminal in the area, although the shooting bore the hallmarks of a gangland-style hit.

It was the first gangland murder this year. A young man was shot dead in Inchicore last month but this turned out to be the result of a number of youths "messing" with a gun.

Locals described their anger at the killing yesterday. "It's getting worse around here," one man told the Irish Independent.

A woman who answered the door to the Johnston house said the dead man's parents were not ready to speak about the tragedy yet.

A garda spokesman called on residents from the Moorefield estate to come forward with any information they have.

"The appeal is to the residents of the Moorefield estate and to the broader community at Ronanstown to come forward with any information they may hold in relation to this terrible act.

"A man in his early 20s was cut down and it's a terrible loss to his family."

He asked anybody with information to contact Ronanstown garda station at 01 6667700 or phone the confidential line on 1800 666 111.

Irish Independent

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