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Gun victim tried to use his wife as a 'human shield'

THE gangster shot dead in a Dublin business park was executed by his own gang, gardai believe.

It has also emerged that Gintaras Zelvys (43) tried to use his wife as a "human shield".

Detectives are working on the theory that the Lithuanian criminal was murdered by members of his own gang over a bitter cash dispute.

Senior sources say that it is "a miracle" that his wife, Edita (left) – who worked alongside him – was not also killed in the "meticulous hit".

Zelvys grabbed her in a "bear hug" when the assassination team approached in a silver Audi car.

The gangster ran a Leinster-wide 'cash for clothes' business.

"His last actions on this earth could easily have led to that woman being murdered as well – she escaped unharmed but is very shook," the source said.

"When it came to the shooting, the gunmen knew exactly what they were doing, but their big mistake may be the fact that they did not burn out the getaway car which is now in the hands of gardai."

Gardai have launched a massive manhunt after Zelvys was blasted to death by a gunman in a business park in Rathcoole.

The father-of-one – who spent seven years in jail for running an extortion racket – had been inside his rented premises for just minutes when he was shot in the chest.

Violent

Sources say the well-known criminal was followed to the premises in the Greenogue Business Park, Rathcoole, by his former criminal associates.

The dispute is believed to centre upon the second hand clothes trade which was recently exposed as being used by criminals to generate cash.

"We are very much looking at this man's former criminal associates – who we believe he had a major falling out with over money," the source added.

The victim has "known form" for kidnapping, hijacking, extortion, burglary, and violent offences including rape.

The Herald has learned that Zelvys was inside his 'cash for clothes shop' from around 9.15am with the woman.

Just minutes later, a number of men are believed to have pulled up outside the premises in a silver Audi hatchback.

A gunman entered the store and blasted Zelvys a number of times before fleeing in the waiting vehicle.

"This was a fast, clean and highly professional job.

"The victim was shot just a few minutes after arriving so it's believed that he and the woman were followed," said a senior source.

Gardai received a 999 call and found the victim on the ground with gunshot wounds.

Zelvys was rushed to Tallaght Hospital but died soon after.

He was a well known gangster and was jailed in February 2007 for attempting to extort cash and a vehicle from a fellow Lithuanian.

Zelvys had been deported from these shores in January because of his links to serious organised crime.

He was kicked out of Ireland by the Garda National Immigration Bureau after he served a sentence for stealing a car.

The convicted rapist - who escaped his native Lithuania a year after being jailed for rape in 1998 - only slipped back into the country on Monday.

Detectives believe that father of one returned to Dublin through the North after he had been living in England.

Devastated

A friend of the family told the Herald that the news has "devastated" his wife.

"She cannot believe it and is talking to gardai. He ran lots of clothes shops in Kildare and Dublin," the friend said.

Zelvys lived in Co Kildare with his wife and young son and has a number of 'cash-for clothes shops' across Leinster.

Head of the Garda Press Office, Superintendent David Taylor, said officers are now trying to establish how many individuals were involved in the shooting.

He said the gunman is believed to have fled in the direction of the Aylmer Housing estate in Newcastle where the getaway car was found.

"This car, when it left this area, may have been in the Aylmer estate so we're particularly interested in this silver audi A3 which is a five-door hatchback, registration 05TN.

"Did anybody see this vehicle in the area prior to the event or after the event? Would they come forward, we believe they may have important information that may assist the investigation," Supt Taylor said.

A family liaison officer was today offering help to the victim's wife and his young child.

hnews@herald.ie


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