'Kingsize' shooting: Gardai appeal for information on 'lone man running from murder scene'
Noel Duggan - a close friend of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch - was gunned down last night
Gardai are appealing for information on a lone man dressed in dark clothing who was seen running from the scene of a fatal shooting last night.
Noel Duggan (56), was shot several times as he sat in a car outside his home at the Old Mill in Ratoath, Co Meath, around 8pm last night.
A veteran gangster who was the closest friend of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, he was gunned down last night in a further dramatic escalation of the blood feud between two of Ireland's most powerful crime gangs.
Supt Jim Cannon from Ashbourne garda station today said a lone man dressed in dark clothing was seen running across the green from the scene of the murder immediately after the shooting.
“We are particularly interested in a man who was seen in dark clothing running from the scene onto the Fairyhouse Road. We’re also interested in a BMW car which was seen driving onto the Fairyhouse Road and in the direction of Fairyhouse,” he told reporters.
- Read more: From modest Cabra home to country's top cigarette smuggler - the life and crimes of Noel 'Kingsize' Duggan
“A short time later two cars were found burned out by Gardai in nearby Cairn Court, one of these cars was a BMW car and very shortly after that somebody was seen getting into a dark coloured saloon car and heading in the direction back into Ratoath village,” he added.
A car that was later found burned out at Dublin Airport was also recovered by Gardai but there were no immediate indications that it is connected with last night’s shooting.
Supt Cannon said initial indications were that Duggan had just arrived home in his Mercedes car when he was targeted.
He said there was no intelligence that Duggan’s life was at risk or that he was a target for a murder.
He said it was too early to speculate if the murder was gangland related, and Supt Cannon said he would not speculate on Duggan's associations with other known criminals but said his death was being investigated as a murder.
He told Independent.ie that it has to be investigated if Duggan was followed or if somebody had lay waiting for him when he arrived home last night.
Gardai are now appealing for any witnesses to come forward.
Both scenes were preserved for Technical Examination which was carried out this morning by the Garda Technical Bureau. A Senior investigation Officer (SIO) and a Family Liaison Officer have been appointed. An incident room has been set up at Ashbourne Garda station.
A conference was held last night at Ashbourne Garda Station and again this morning involving local and national units.
This morning the residents of The Old Mill housing estate woke to the scene of a blue forensic tent covering Duggan’s car in the driveway of his home, and garda tape sealing off the immediate scene.
Black plastic covered a section of the road immediately outside the house, thought to be protecting the spent bullet casings until they can be forensically examined.
Members of the garda armed support unit were also present at the scene.
Locals said they were shocked at the shooting.
“You’d see him around, going up and down to the shops, and he seemed like an ordinary sort of fella,” said one man out walking his dog this morning.
“I don’t think he was a threat to anyone, so maybe he was killed because of who he knows more than for anything he might have done himself.
“It’s very sad for his family,” he added.
Paramedics and gardaí rushed to the scene of the shooting but were unable to save the grandfather's life.
The murder of Hutch's closest friend and business associate is directly linked to the ongoing feud between the Hutch and Kinahan gangs which has now claimed four lives.
Last night, sources said Duggan was an easy target who had been singled out because of his lifelong friendship with Gerry Hutch, whose life is also under threat.
The murdered man was a career criminal who at one time was Ireland's biggest cigarette smuggler, earning him the nickname 'Mr Kingsize'.
The veteran gangster had only returned to Ireland in recent days after spending time in England. He had been in fear of his life believing that he would be targeted by the Kinahan gang. Last night, relatives of the dead man began arriving at the scene of the shooting.
Visibly distressed, family members could be seen relaying the tragic news over the phone.
Several units of the Garda Emergency Response Unit were at the scene and cornered off the road and the entire green area outside the scene.
The car where the dead man lay was covered but the driver's door remained open.
Garda sources said they viewed this latest slaying as a major escalation of the gang war that was sparked by the murder of Gerry Hutch's nephew Gary Hutch in Spain last year.
- Read more: Timeline: The Kinahan-Hutch feud
That resulted in the audacious gun attack at a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel in Dublin last month, in which five hit men stormed the building and killed Kinahan mob member David Byrne.
Then, three days later, the Kinahans retaliated by murdering Gerry Hutch's older brother Eddie at his home in Dublin - the taxi driver was considered an innocent victim of the feud.
Meanwhile, local residents gathered in the estate in Ratoath and expressed their shock at last night's killing.
A local representative in the Ratoath Municipal District, said: "The whole community is very shocked by this murder. We are shocked that inner city gangland violence appears to have spread to this suburban area of Co Meath.
"It's appalling that a life has been taken in this way in Ratoath. This is an extremely quiet village with a well-settled community which has the second-highest proportion in Ireland of professional people living here.
"It's terrible. The shooting took place in an estate which has a large amount of children," he added.
Superintendent Cannon is appealing for anyone who may have been in the The Old Mill estate or Cairn Court areas and who may have any information on any of the points above to contact Gardai in Ashbourne on 01 8010600, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.