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Wednesday 24 January 2018

'What's the craic?' I said - and then I saw the shotgun...

Survivor hid in graveyard as pal was blown away

Barry Duggan

"THE biggest crime we ever had here is fellas staggering out of the pub at closing time."

Those were the words of a resident of Golden in Tipperary last Wednesday morning as she stood behind the garda tape observing the scene where the country's latest gun murder had just occurred.

The silence in the quiet village had been completely shattered after a gunman opened fire on 30-year-old Shane Rossiter -- a criminal from Clonmel -- in the nearest house to the local church at 6.30am. Unknown to the gardai, Rossiter had recently moved to Golden along with a Dublin criminal, Paul 'Poncho' McCarthy, 28, days before he was shot dead.

Four years ago, Rossiter had earned 18 criminal convictions for offences such as assault, burglary and sale and supply of drugs, and left for Australia. However, following criminal activity there, he was deported a month ago -- and tensions among local Clonmel criminals immediately intensified upon his return.

Rossiter left for Dublin and met McCarthy in the capital.

McCarthy, from Crumlin, has been warned that there is an active threat to his life because he is the half-brother of Declan O'Reilly -- the man shot dead in front of his 11-year-old son last month.

Rossiter and McCarthy left Dublin last week and sought sanctuary in a small end-of-terrace house at Chapel Lane in Golden.

McCarthy told reporter Ken Foy of the Evening Herald how the 14th fatal shooting in the country occurred.

"We had been up all night -- Shane, Shane's sister Sharon, my cousin and me. Shane was looking for some grass -- some green. Shane rang someone to organise it that morning and then a car pulled up outside. It was a set-up. I went out and said to them 'What's the craic' and then I saw the shotgun -- so I just legged it," McCarthy said.

"They saw Shane and they shot him in the back.

"I just jumped over the wall and ran into the graveyard, they fired at me as well. The car had blacked-out windows -- I was not the intended target but they could have killed me as well.

"I am in bits over this, of course I am. I went to Tipperary because of the threats on me in Dublin but I have to leave there now as well.

"Shane's family are in a terrible way. When the gardai came, I was taken to Tipperary garda station. I was kept there for hours," he added.

Liam O'Sullivan runs the Spar shop in Golden and lives adjacent to where the murder took place. "I was getting up when I heard a couple of shots about 6.30am. First of all I thought it might be a fella dropping pallets off a truck. They usually drop stuff off at the back area in the morning but there wouldn't be anybody coming this morning.

"I got up and I looked out through the blinds in the window but I didn't see anything. At about 6.45am, I saw a fella coming across from the field through my back window but I didn't think anything of it, like. He was acting quite normal. He was on foot and had a sort of a grey hoodie. He was going back to the house where they found him [Rossiter]," Mr O'Sullivan said.

Last Thursday afternoon, McCarthy and two other occupants attempted to return to the house but gardai were still investigating the scene. They were questioned by detectives.

Gardai are focusing their enquiries on Clonmel criminals. It is believed Rossiter may have owed a debt to a gang involved in drugs and other serious crimes in Tipperary.

Sunday Independent

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