Wednesday 17 January 2018

Probes into spate of gang killings hit a brick wall

Daylight murder of Zambra being linked to a 'Mr Big' drug importer

Christopher 'Git' Zambra
Christopher 'Git' Zambra

JIM CUSACK

Eight gangland murders have taken place so far this year yet there has not been a single arrest as detectives try to crack the sinister code of silence that surrounds organised crime.

Sources say there is also no firm lead in the latest broad-daylight murder of Christopher 'Git' Zambra, a notorious gangster who was acquitted last year of murdering drug dealer John Carroll in February 2009.

Zambra, 39, had many enemies and while awaiting trial last year ordered the murder of an innocent young man who was having an affair with a woman he was romantically pursuing. A hitman called to the young man's home but left when he found he was not there.

A professional hit team killed Zambra as he visited family members in Cooley Road in Drimnagh last Sunday afternoon. They first boxed in his Audi car then shot him as he tried to escape.

Witnesses heard him plead for his life as he lay in the front garden of a house after being shot four times in the back by the two gunmen. They turned him face upwards and shot him twice more in the face. Zambra was linked to several murders including that of Sean McMahon, 36, who was shot dead as he was sleeping in his home in Donaghmore Avenue, Tallaght, in November 2007.

Gardai also believe that Zambra ordered the murder of Mr McMahon's friend and associate Brian Downes, 40, who was shot dead at the garage he ran in Walkinstown in October 2007. An innocent young man who worked for Downes, Edward Ward, 26, was also murdered at the scene merely because he had seen the gunmen. Downes and McMahon both ran car dealerships and were involved in laundering Zambra's earnings. Gardai believe they had lost a large amount of Zambra's drugs money in foreign property investments.

Zambra was also the main suspect in the murder of John Berney, 29, a father of four who was shot dead at his home in Castlelyon Drive, Newcastle in west Dublin in March 2008. .The same hitman associate of Zambra is suspected of carrying out the murders of McMahon, Berney, Downes and Edward Ward.

Christopher Zambra was a former Irish youth international soccer player from a respectable family background in south inner Dublin. He became involved in crime as a teenager and was given a three-year sentence for armed robbery at the age of 18. Gardai say he was "not your usual gouger" but an intelligent and ruthless gangster and drug trafficker.

He had close ties to a number of major drug traffickers in Dublin, most recently with the "Mr Big" figure from north Dublin who has been responsible for a series of murders – all unsolved – including that of the "dissident" republican figure Alan Ryan, shot dead outside his home in Donaghmede in September 2012.

The "Mr Big" figure is also believed responsible for last month's murder and disappearance of Eoin O'Connor, 32, and Anthony Keegan, 33, who have not been seen since they travelled to Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, 17 days ago.

Gardai are investigating a number of theories about Zambra's murder. The "Mr Big" character, a 33-year-old who moved out of Dublin prior to the murder of Alan Ryan and now operates in the Border area, is known to use hired assassins to murder associates like Keegan and O'Connor – who he suspects of siphoning his drugs profits or of talking to gardai.

Another theory being examined is that a major, ageing drugs baron who has been living abroad ordered Zambra's murder in revenge for the murder of "Champagne" John Carroll – for which Zambra was acquitted last year. Sources said last week that this theory is so far the most likely.

Zambra had Carroll murdered rather than pay him a substantial amount of money from drugs deals. When gardai inspected Carroll's body they found a list of debtors for drug dealers amounting to €243,000. Zambra's name was on the list.

Garda sources say there has been little progress in solving this year's other gangland murders, including Michael Devoy, 42, who was shot dead in Tallaght in January, James Talbot, 46, shot dead in Lucan in February, Dougie Moran, 46, shot dead in Clondalkin, and Declan Smyth, 31, shot dead in Donaghmede.

Sunday Independent

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