Tuesday 25 June 2019

Gardai operate checkpoint close to home of gangland boss as prison release sparks fears of further feud violence

Garda checkpoint in Gormanstown, Co. Meath at entrance to compund owned by Cornelius Price, and inset- Cornelius Price.
Garda checkpoint in Gormanstown, Co. Meath at entrance to compund owned by Cornelius Price, and inset- Cornelius Price.

Patrick O'Connell and Ken Foy

FREED gang-boss Cornelius Price was met with the sight of armed gardai camped out in front of his fortified compound - hours after being released from Wheatfield Prison.

Price arrived home to his walled off property in Gormanstown, Meath at 2pm today, a short time before Gardai, operating under Operation Hybrid, mounted a high visibility check-point yards away.

Sources said the ‘in-your-face’ operation was a warning to Price his every move will now be monitored following his release from prison.

Operation Hybrid was set up to identify the movements of key gangland figures, their cars, movements and associates across the capital and its environs.

Cornelius Price
Cornelius Price

After the check-point was wound down, a car matching the description of the vehicle which had collected Price from prison earlier emerged and sped in the direction of Balbriggan.

It recently emerged that gardaí fear Price's release from prison will spark further violence in the Drogheda feud.

While in jail, the criminal was involved in a number of rows and feuds which led him to be transferred to different jails and isolation units.

He was suspected of ordering dozens of attacks against his enemies and perceived rivals, including an incident where he is alleged to have forced a Brazilian inmate to stab a rival in a botched attack.

He has completed a three-year sentence for reckless endangerment of a garda at Balbriggan garda station in 2014 following a trial at Dublin Circuit Court.

His associates are suspected of involvement in three gangland murders and while not a suspect himself for any of the three murders, Price's associates are the chief suspects for the murder of Benny Whitehouse, a 36-year-old man who was shot dead in September, 2014.

The gang suspected of killing Whitehouse are also chief suspects for the suspected murders of Tallaght man Willie Maughan (34) and his partner Anna Varslavane (21).

They were last seen near Price’s house in the Gormanston area on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 14, 2015.

Independent.ie previously revealed that the gang boss taunted and laughed at gardai as they carried out searches for the missing couple in the summer of 2015.

Price’s mob are also believed to have been behind a sickening incident in August 2016, when the grave of Willie Maughan’s brother at Bohernabreena Cemetery in Tallaght was dug up.

Price was in jail at the time.

Price spent almost a year in custody on remand after gardai went to the High Court in January 2016 to object to him being allowed out on bail in relation to the serious charges he was facing.

In 2016, Price was cleared of charges of attacking two close associates of slain Benny Whitehouse in an incident in which a Stanley blade was used at a house in Balbriggan.

In November 2015, he was cleared of reckless endangerment charges in relation to a terrifying feud-related incident at a Balbriggan school two years earlier.

But the gangster’s luck finally ran out when a jury convicted him in February 2017 of engaging in conduct that created a substantial risk of death or serious harm to Garda Gary Dillane.

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