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Sunday 17 December 2017

Ten gang suspects arrested within hours of shooting

Superintendent Mark Curran talks to the media at the scene on Station Road in Portmarnock, Co Dublin. Photo: PA
Superintendent Mark Curran talks to the media at the scene on Station Road in Portmarnock, Co Dublin. Photo: PA
Gardai at the scene on Station Road in Portmarnock, Co Dublin, were a man was shot yesterday. Photo: PA
Gardai at the scene on Station Road in Portmarnock, Co Dublin, were a man was shot yesterday. Photo: PA

Ten gangland suspects were rounded up today within hours of a criminal being shot in the head in an affluent Dublin suburb.

Sean Winters was shot a number of times and died outside the gated Links apartment complex in Portmarnock, where he lived.

Seven men and three women were arrested in the north of the capital when detectives acting on intelligence raided a home and stopped and searched a car.

Winters, aged in his late 30s, had ties to a north Dublin gang involved in drug dealing but one line of investigation following the shooting centred on a turf war over pub security.

Crime bosses and dissident republicans linked to the Real IRA are believed to be embroiled in a feud over extortion rackets and doormen's contracts.

In another incident blamed on the feud last July, innocent bouncer Wayne Barrett, 31, was shot in the head and left on life support while two customers were injured in an indiscriminate gun attack at the front door of the Players' Lounge in Fairview.

The Portmarnock murder, 20 feet from the patio doors of ground-floor apartments, was the 19th gun killing this year and left local residents and commuters in shock.

Parents tried to shield their young children from white-suited forensic officers and police tapes as they walked past the crime scene to a crèche at the Links complex.

A local man, who did not want to be named, heard the gun attack and said .

"I heard a couple of voices, fast movement, and then I heard a bang but I didn't know it was a shot," he said.

"Then I heard more fast movement of feet. I was in the back room and looked out and I saw a car driving away.

"I couldn't recognise the car or colour of it, but I saw the rear lights. Then the ambulance came very soon after that and the fire brigade came.

"It seemed to me that the car had been involved with something and was parked up on the path."

Residents also revealed the metal security gates had been rammed and broken in the last few months.

Detectives said a 1998 Offaly registered silver Volkswagen Passat seen outside the Links complex yesterday evening was found a short time after the gun attack on fire in Coolock.

One of the arrested men was aged in his 50s, the others in their 20s and 30s, while the three women were aged in their 20s, a Garda spokesman said.

No weapon was recovered.

Superintendent Mark Curran, who is heading the investigation, said house-to-house inquiries have been planned and appealed for anyone walking or travelling near the crime scene last night to come forward.

"Sunday night, near the Dart station. There's always a constant flow of traffic, maybe not so many pedestrians. I imagine it would have been quiet enough. But there are always cars going by," he said.

The killing was not being linked to the attempted murder of another known criminal on Saturday in Killester, north Dublin, Mr Curran said.

A 63-year-old man escaped death at his front door when his attacker's gun jammed as he tried to open fire.

The 10 people arrested were being held at a number of Garda stations across north Dublin under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act. They can be questioned for 72 hours.

Local Labour councillor Peter Coyle said people in the area were taken aback by the killing.

"Certainly it's a shock to the whole community that this whole drugs war and criminals have come to such a quiet place as Portmarnock," he said.

"It's also a gated community so the fact that he was attacked on the road, as there would have been security in the apartments themselves, is quite significant. The attack happened on the road because normally vehicles can't get in to these apartments without a security pass."

Mr Coyle said there are around 600 apartments in the vicinity of the Dart station, with many people renting and not known to their neighbours.

He added: "There has been the odd case of rumours about some drug people living here but obviously when you have apartments with 600-odd apartments then you obviously find everyone and anyone living here."

Opposition justice spokesman Alan Shatter, of Fine Gael, claimed crime statistics showed there was little chance of a conviction for the latest killing, despite the arrests.

He said: "Lawlessness cannot be allowed to prevail and the ganglords cannot be left to mete out their own version of street justice as they see fit.

"The Minister (for Justice Dermot Ahern) is not living up to his most basic responsibility of making sure that people feel safe on the streets of the nation's capital.

"Innocent bystanders have been murdered before and, if the killing is allowed to continue at this rate, it won't be long before such a tragedy happens again."

Press Association

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