Thursday 19 July 2018

First picture of innocent dad murdered in case of mistaken identity shooting

Gardai at the scene, inset, Keith Murtagh (32)
Forensic officers remove a wheelie bin on Sherriff Street in which it is believed a weapon was thrown. A man was shot outside Noctor’s pub on the junction of Sheriff Street and Oriel Street near Connolly Station in Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers
Gardaí at the scene on Sheriff Street. Photo:

Ken Foy, Laura Larkin and Ryan Nugent

This is the innocent dad-of-three who was shot dead in a botched revenge hit by the Kinahan gang yesterday.

Father-of-three Martin O’Rourke (24) was shot twice in the face on Sheriff Street in broad daylight.

He was shot dead by a reckless hitman who unleashed a hail of gunfire in broad daylight as he tried to assassinate a close associate of the Hutch mob.

This morning he was described as a “harmless lovable young fellow” by Father Peter McVerry.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, the homeless campaigner said he knew Martin O’Rourke "very well".

“Martin had a drug problem, which he was trying to address. He was trying to become drug free.  A couple of years ago, he became drug-free. I brought him to a drug treatment centre in an effort to get drug free in Athlone but unfortunately he relapsed back into drug use.”

Father McVerry described the shooting as a “total tragedy for him, his family and his friends”.

The fourth feud-related murder this year is believed to have been orchestrated by the Kinahan gang, and claimed the life of a 24-year-old bystander.

Gardaí believe that north inner city criminal Keith Murtagh (32) was meant to be the actual target of yesterday's savage fatal shooting but Martin O' Rourke was shot at least twice in the face instead.

Read More: Killers back on our streets in broad daylight with no fear of gardaí

Mr O' Rourke had been living in sheltered accommodation for homeless people in the Halston Street area of the capital's northside.

He had a history with drugs, but had no involvement in the bitter gang war that has now claimed five lives.

Read More: ‘He was a harmless lovable young fellow’ - Father Peter McVerry remembers victim of latest gangland murder

It also comes just days after it emerged garda overtime - sanctioned in the wake of the gangland attack at the Regency Hotel last February - has been stopped, despite feud tensions running high.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald is now under mounting pressure to release another round of emergency funding to combat gang violence.

The latest incident unfolded close to Noctor's pub, in Sheriff Street in Dublin's north inner city, at around 12.25pm.

Read More: The victims of the deadly Hutch-Kinahan feud

It is understood that Mr O'Rourke was in the Sheriff Street area to buy drugs.

The gunman ran towards Keith Murtagh - but in the confusion he shot up to six times, causing Mr O'Rourke fatal injuries. The killer then left the scene on a bicycle and dumped the small black handgun in a bin on Sheriff Street Lower.

Gardaí located the weapon within minutes of the murder.

They have identified a chief suspect and it is believed he has worked as a 'gun for hire' for the Kinahan cartel.

He has previously been arrested by gardaí investigating the slaying of Michael 'Mad Mickey' Devoy (41) in 2014.

Sources say the hitman is just one of a network of young thugs who are prepared to kill for money for the Kinahans.

It is understood that a friend of the intended victim contacted gardaí asking for an escort out of the area, and he was in hiding last night.

Murtagh is extremely well-known to gardaí because of his involvement in crime and he is very close to jailed killer Derek 'Del Boy' Hutch. Both Murtagh and Hutch were involved in a botched cash-in-transit robbery in Lucan in May, 2009, in which Murtagh was shot by gardaí and seriously wounded, while fellow criminal Gareth Molloy (27) was shot dead.

In July, 2010, Murtagh, of Mariner's Port, Sheriff Street Lower, Dublin, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possession of a weapon with intent to endanger life at Foxboro Road, Lucan, on May 15, 2009, and was jailed for eight years.

Yesterday's killing in broad daylight happened less than 50 metres away from Sheriff Youth Centre, where children were about to arrive.

Superintendent Kevin Gralton said: "An innocent bystander getting shot, if that is the case, of course it's a low."

Chairperson of the Dublin City joint policing committee, Daithi de Roiste, called for more resources and a long-term plan.

"We seem to have a government by press release and until we start pumping resources in, this lawlessness is going to exist on the streets of our city. "We have criminal gangs operating above the law and nobody can seem to get it under control." Chairperson of the Policing Authority Josephine Feehily said this week that gardaí had been "very successful" recently in the fight against gang crime.

However, Mr de Roiste questioned her statements. "If anybody thinks they are doing such a good job why are there people being shot every other week? It's an absolute disgrace that this is allowed to happen in our city."

A spokesman for the Department of Justice did not respond when asked if extra funding would be made available.

"The Government moved decisively to strengthen the resources available to gardaí to deal with the serious armed crime through a special ring-fenced additional allocation of €5m, as well as steps to establish a dedicated Armed Support Unit in Dublin," he said.

Irish Independent

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