A notorious 55-year-old Tallaght criminal who yesterday pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm near the end of his trial at the Special Criminal Court is a convicted sex offender and the father of a notorious murderer.
Gardai believe that Edward McDonnell, who had been living in New Ross, Co Wexford, was enlisted last year by criminals involved in the Coolock feud.
Last month, Stephen Little (46), of Kilbarron Avenue, Kilmore, Dublin 5, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a Grand Power G9 semi-automatic pistol at Lein Park, Harmonstown, on the same occasion last September 14.
He is the father of slain drug dealer Sean Little, who was murdered last year as part of the same criminal dispute.
Sean Little (22) was lured to a laneway in Walshestown near Balbriggan in May 2019 before being shot dead in an unsolved gangland murder - one of five gun slayings last year as part of the deadly Coolock feud.
After his arrest, Stephen Little told detectives: "Had you given me another hour, I would have killed the b*****d that killed him.
"I have lost my marriage and my son."
Both Little and McDonnell will be sentenced later this month for the same firearms offence at the non-jury court after an investigation into their activities by the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB).
Both have been in custody since being charged with the firearms offences.
The Herald can reveal that Edward McDonnell is the father of Daniel McDonnell (25) a thug who is serving a life sentence for the gun murder of tragic teen Melanie McCarthy McNamara in Tallaght more than eight years ago.
Edward McDonnell is understood to have battled drug addiction problems and moved to Co Wexford because of threats against his life from other criminals.
Originally from Brookview Lawns in Tallaght, he was given an 18-month jail sentence in November 2004 for sexually assaulting a woman in the Rathfarnham area five years earlier, which led him to be placed on the sex offenders register.
Opening the prosecution case against McDonnell last week, prosecution counsel Sean Gillane SC told the court that it would be satisfied that a combination of the circumstances in the case would conclude an Audi was parked up at Lein Park for the purpose of its deployment in a criminal enterprise and the only use for the firearm was to endanger life.
Senior sources previously told the Herald that the target of the gunmen was a notorious criminal who was blamed by the gang for involvement in Sean Little's murder.
McDonnell's five-day trial heard evidence that a garda had found a loaded handgun under the passenger seat of an Audi.
The trial heard that several items, including two baseball hats, two balaclavas and some gloves, had fallen from McDonnell's lap on his arrest and that a red petrol can containing liquid as well as a long-handled lighter were found in the vehicle.
Yesterday, the accused's barrister, Michael Bowman SC, applied to the three judges at the Special Criminal Court to direct not guilty verdicts on both counts on the indictment, which also included having the weapon with intent to endanger life.
Mr Bowman said the court could not be drawn on the evidence that his client knew there was a firearm in the vehicle when he sat down in the Audi car which was parked up at Lein Park, on September 14.
"There is no evidence taking the prosecution case at its height that the charge of possession of a semi-automatic pistol with intent to endanger life exists at all," he said.
However, before the three-judge court delivered its ruling at 2pm, Mr Bowman told Mr Justice Hunt that there had been a development over lunchtime which he said was sufficient to all parties.
Mr Justice Hunt replied: "That sounds wise."
McDonnell was re-arraigned on one of the two counts and pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of the pistol.