Tuesday 16 July 2019

'He lived for his children' - Gardai investigating brothers over murder of father-of-three (39)

A Garda Technical Team at the scene of the fatal shooting in Darndale Inset: Victim John Lawless
A Garda Technical Team at the scene of the fatal shooting in Darndale Inset: Victim John Lawless
Gardai at the scene of the Fatal shooting in Marigold Crescent, Darndale
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

Two brothers are being investigated over the murder of a father-of-three in Dublin last week.

John Lawless (39), whose wife is expecting their fourth child, was shot outside his home in Darndale as he made his way to work on Friday morning.

Gardai at the scene of the Fatal shooting in Marigold Crescent, Darndale
Gardai at the scene of the Fatal shooting in Marigold Crescent, Darndale

The fire safety officer was not involved in crime, but gardai suspect he was targeted by local criminals.

It has emerged that two brothers from north Dublin are being investigated in relation to his death. The pair, aged in their teens and early 20s, were involved in a dispute with Mr Lawless in the lead-up to his death.

It is understood anti-social behaviour near his Dublin home led to a row.

A source said the brothers were connected to a local gang.

"They would be mid-level criminals, at least before this shooting, and there has been no sign of them in their locality since John Lawless was killed," the source said.

"Gardai are aware of an altercation between him and these criminals before his death, which could be a motive."

Gardai stressed that a number of different lines of inquiry were being followed and that the victim had no involvement in organised crime.

Speaking in the aftermath of the killing, Mr Lawless' wife Patricia said she hoped his killers "die screaming".

"My husband was a hard-working family man and they shot him in cold blood as he went to work," she told the Sunday World.

"No one knew my John, he didn't mix with people, my brothers were his best friends.

"All that man ever did was go to work and then come home and run around with me and his kids.

"He had nothing to do with gangland, he lived for his children. I hope they catch them, I hope they die screaming."

Mr Lawless lived in an end-of terrace house with his wife in Marigold Park, with the back garden facing into Marigold Crescent, where he was shot dead.

A number of spent shell casings from a handgun were recovered at the scene.

A second crime scene was also sealed off less than five minutes from where the shooting occurred, where gardai believe the getaway car was burned.

A silver-coloured 132D Ford Focus was found burnt out on Greenwood Avenue near the Malahide Road. Gardai said it was stolen from the Santry area on January 1.

Appealing for information last week, Supt Gerard Donnelly said gardai did not believe the killing was connected to serious organised crime.

"At this stage, we have no known motive for this shooting. Mr Lawless left his home on the way to work," he said.

"He is not a person who was known to us for involvement in serious criminal activity.

"We are satisfied at this stage of no organised crime link. All the indications are that it may be something in the local area.

"We will adjust our policing arrangements in accordance with the investigation as it progresses.

"We have a number of lines of inquiry which are pointing in a number of directions at the moment and we are exploring all avenues.

"No firearm has been recovered - we believe it is a handgun from the ammunition we picked up at the scene."

Following the murder, members of the Armed Support Unit patrolled the area as gardai carried out inquiries at the scene.

A forensic examination of the two crime scenes was carried out by the garda Technical Bureau, while officers attached to the Divisional Search Team searched both areas for any evidence.

The site of the murder was located beside the Church of Our Lady Immaculate and less than 200 metres from the local primary school.

Many young children making their way to the school from the surrounding area would have come across the aftermath of the killing.

Mr Lawless' death is the third gun murder being investigated by detectives based at Coolock Garda Station in the past 16 months.

In October 2017, Jamie Tighe was shot dead in the Moatview area after walking home in the early hours of the morning.

Gardai suspect his killing is linked to the Hutch/Kinahan feud, which has claimed up to 19 lives to date.

Last February, Ken Finn was shot dead in the Moatview area in a dispute linked to a local gangland feud.

Finn was suspected of a number of gun killings, including the murder of dissident republican Alan Ryan.


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