Tuesday 24 April 2018

Hotel murder gang planned 'spectacular attack' at fight

Armed ring of steel patrols the streets of Dublin

Gardaí backed by armed members of the Emergency Response Unit stop motorists at a checkpoint in Cork Street, Dublin, as part of the investigation. Photo: Arthur Carron
Gardaí backed by armed members of the Emergency Response Unit stop motorists at a checkpoint in Cork Street, Dublin, as part of the investigation. Photo: Arthur Carron

Paul Williams

The gang responsible for a terrorist-style assault on a Dublin hotel had originally planned to stage a "spectacular" attack during a boxing tournament which was due to be held at the National Stadium on Saturday night, according to intelligence sources.

It has also emerged the ­intended targets of last ­Friday's attack - members of the Christy Kinahan international crime syndicate - have placed a murder contract on the head of veteran crime boss Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch.

Last night security sources said they have "no doubt" the objective of the audacious gun attack, which was carried out with military precision, was to kill Kinahan's son Daniel and "wipe out" several gang members, in revenge for the murder of Hutch's nephew Gary in Spain last year.

Detectives are said to be close to confirming the identities of a number of the killers.

Drug trafficker David Byrne, 34, was shot dead when six men - three disguised as a garda Swat team armed with AK-47s, one as a woman and another wearing a cap both carrying handguns, and a getaway driver - stormed a pre-fight weigh-in at the hotel which was attended by 100 spectators including children.

Read more: Gunman in drag had to ask hotel porter for directions to weigh-in

The murder victim and his brother Liam were key players in the Kinahan drug distribution business in Ireland, along with their notorious cousin 'Fat' Freddie Thompson.

Injured Aaron Bulger is said to be in fear of losing his leg after a bullet smashed through his femur while Sean McGovern was understood to be in a serious condition in the Mater Hospital after he was shot in the stomach.

It is understood the decision to deliberately target The Monk and a number of other individuals was discussed at a meeting of gang members, including Daniel Kinahan, which took place in Crumlin at the weekend.

Last night armed gardaí and plain clothes detectives were patrolling the streets surrounding the south Dublin home of 'Fat' Freddie Thompson - a cousin of David Byrne.

Officers in balaclavas brandishing Heckler & Koch MP7 sub-machines were also assisting at checkpoints in Crumlin last night, with armed units stopping traffic heading towards the city.

"What has happened is ­unprecedented in terms of gangland violence and it is a huge escalation of hostilities between these two dangerous outfits which is nothing less than an all-out war," a source told the Irish Independent.

Read more: Minister for Justice: ‘I would have feared for gardai lives if they had come from Whitehall’

"The plan was to wipe out as many of the main players as possible in one spectacular attack, especially Daniel Kinahan, Christy's son, but they were fortunate enough to get out in time.

"There is already information circulating in the underworld that a contract has been placed on Gerry Hutch's head to get back at the killers and that is being taken seriously," the source added.

In the hours following the shooting gardaí learned the hit team had earlier reconnoitred the National Stadium, the chosen venue for the Clash of the Clans contest.

Daniel Kinahan - who also controls his father's huge ­criminal operation - was due to attend the much-hyped event and was present at the weigh-in.

The main attraction on the night was a bout between ­Portuguese boxer Antonio Joao Bento and Jamie Kavanagh, whose father Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh and uncle Paul were murdered by hitmen in Dublin and Spain.

Read more: Paul Williams: More bloodshed expected as all-out war is declared

The killers decided the National Stadium would be too crowded on the night to carry out an attack and was also likely to attract a large garda presence.

Instead, the hit team went to the pre-match weigh-in which had been well flagged in advance by members of the Kinahan gang, including in tweets posted by Daniel Kinahan.

Security sources said they had no prior intelligence of the attack and that a major security operation had been planned for the competition in the National Stadium, which was cancelled after the shooting outrage.

Gardaí have confirmed their main suspects for the Regency Hotel gun attack are associates of Gary Hutch, who was executed by the Kinahan cartel in Spain last September.

Hutch had been a member of the gang but had fallen under suspicion that he was a police informant.

According to reliable intelligence sources, representatives of both the Kinahan and Hutch sides met to discuss how the matter were going to be dealt with.

It was agreed that Gary Hutch would be left unharmed on the condition that he stayed away from the Kinahan operation and members of the gang.

However, in an apparent ­double-cross, Hutch was shot dead in an apartment complex in the Costa del Sol last September.

An intelligence source told the Irish Independent: "They (Kinahan gang) realised that they had bitten off more than they could chew and began to sue for peace.

"They came to Dublin on three occasions since then in the hope of preventing an ­escalation with a face-to-face meeting but each time Gary Hutch's associates refused to meet. As far as they were concerned, Kinahan had reneged on the deal and there was nothing more to talk about.

"You could say the writing was on the wall after that," the source added.

The first indication of an escalation in violence was an ­attempt to shoot Liam Roe, who is also a cousin of the Byrnes and Freddie Thompson, outside the Red Cow Inn in south Dublin.

The Kinahan side and their allies recruited the same hitman suspected of the attempted murder of former crime boss John Gilligan.

For months' underworld and garda sources were warning of a major escalation in the feud.

Read more: Where were the gardaí? asks Guerin brother

Several members of both gangs dropped out of sight, including one of Gary Hutch's closest friends who is the prime suspect for a number of high-profile gangland murders including that of Eamon 'The Don' Dunne six years ago.

Gardai believe that the hit squad were well trained and knew exactly what they were doing.

One branch of the massive investigation now taking place is to trace the origins for the AK-47s which are the same as those shipped into Ireland by the Provisional IRA in the 1970s.

Irish Independent

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