News Irish News

Sunday 18 March 2018

Teenage gang 'lured stab victim using girl's phone'


A TEENAGE gang is suspected of using a young girl's mobile phone to lure a 19-year-old youth to his death last weekend.

Gardai believe that the gang used the girl's mobile phone to send David Byrne a text message to get him to leave his flat.

The gang of boys were outside a local chip shop when Byrne emerged at 10pm last Saturday. They chased him into a car park where he was knifed six times in the back and side and left for dead. Mobile phone records show he received text messages encouraging him outside shortly before he died.

The prime suspect for the stabbing and three other boys suspected of involvement are all juveniles. Seven teenagers, including two 13-year-olds, were arrested but released without charge. Byrne had an outstanding debt to drug dealers, which one source put at €8,000.

The murder has led to renewed concerns over the effects of gangland culture on schoolchildren. The problem is believed to be particularly acute in the south city enclaves of Crumlin and Drimnagh where a murderous feud has raged for years between rival drugs gangs.

David Byrne was a street dealer who graduated from his local youth club to peddling hash around the area, according to gardai. Although he was just 19, he had been in trouble since he was in his early teens. He came to garda attention for drinking in public places, theft, burglary and selling drugs and at one point he was the subject of a barring order.

He might still be alive had his stash not been seized by gardai last year. He had bought €8,000 worth of cannabis from a gang of teenage dealers who, although under 18, were slightly further up the criminal pecking order than he. Before he had the chance to sell it, the cannabis was seized by gardai, according to sources. Without the drug to sell, Byrne had no way of paying his debt. He had certainly been hounded for the money over a long period of time and had survived a previous stabbing.

At 10pm last Saturday week, teenagers loitered outside a local chip shop on Benbulben Road in Drimnagh -- the scene of numerous altercations between local youths including the murders of two Polish men.

When Byrne emerged from his flat in nearby Davitt House, they chased him across a bridge over the Grand Canal and through St Michael's council estate to Inchicore.

The gang had caught up with him in the car park of Emmet Court apartment complex. CCTV footage shows a hooded youth stabbing him six times in the back and side.

Residents looked on horrified. One of them rang gardai, but Byrne had suffered a punctured lung and kidney and bled to death where he lay.

The teenagers may not even have been aware that they had killed Byrne, according to gardai. Closed circuit television caught them up running back to the chip shop on Benbulben Road, moments after they attack.

Other young teenagers who had congregated at the takeaway may have noticed their bloodied clothes.

Gardai arrested seven local teenagers, four on suspicion of murder and three on suspicion of withholding information. Two were 13 and they included two girls.

Byrne's stabbing occurred in a week when sociologist Niamh Hourigan warned that children as young as three were used by criminal gangs to spread fear and intimidation.

Gardai said David Byrne's death was not connected to the long-running murderous drugs feud between the two criminal gangs vying for dominance in Crumlin and Drimnagh.

But it was a by-product of the gangland culture that festers in some communities, drawing in local children as mules and gofers. A 16-year-old was caught with a pipe bomb in the area last summer. In 2008, two Polish mechanics were stabbed in the head with a screwdriver by a 17-year-old after accidentally brushing against a crew of "highly aroused and mouthy" teenagers outside the same chip shop where David Byrne's alleged killers lurked.

"They are used for bringing stuff from Billy to Jack. If they don't talk to police, and work their way up, they continue up the organisation," said one source.

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News