THE garda hunt for a psychotic criminal who shot a drug dealer and then buried him alive for just a couple of thousand euro is ongoing.
This week, low-level criminal Clement Byrne (49) was jailed for eight years for the manslaughter of Stephen O'Meara (26), whose body was found in a shallow grave in the Wicklow Mountains more than three years ago.
Last July, Michael Dickenson (28) was given a life sentence for O'Meara's murder, for driving him to the woods where two men were waiting, one of whom was Byrne and the other the twisted gangster who gave O'Meara such a horrible death.
A senior source explained: "This investigation is still ongoing and will continue to be until the man we know who shot Stephen O'Meara is brought to justice.
"He has been arrested as part of the investigation but there was not enough evidence to charge him.
"It is fair to say that the two individuals who have been convicted in relation to this offence were in absolute terror of the suspect who has been trading on the name of the Continuity IRA."
When he was arrested for the murder, he spent all his time growling at gardai while in custody, sources say.
The Herald has learned that the crimelord is currently "lying low" and living in north Dublin – miles away from his crime empire in south Wicklow and north Wexford.
There has been an upsurge in tensions in these areas in recent months after another gang boss – also with dissident Republican connections – has been vying to take over the crime scene there.
The O'Meara murder suspect was previously jailed for IRA membership and is considered a "gun fanatic".
Other criminals are terrified of him because he is said to "love inflicting pain" and is "completely psychotic" according to sources.
Clement Byrne of Gorey, Co Wexford, was sentenced this week after he pleaded guilty to O'Meara's manslaughter.
O'Meara, who was from Rosehill in Wicklow town, was shot and buried alive in a shallow grave in the woods, but his body was not found until nearly five months later, on Christmas Eve.
Det Sgt Fergus O'Brien told the court that Byrne was the second person to be convicted over the killing, but the gunman was not before the courts.
It emerged that the former Continuity IRA man was employed by a Dublin gang to collect a drugs debt of €5,000 and was told it was going to be paid over that evening.
Clement Byrne told gardai that he punched O'Meara and knocked him to the ground, then a man jumped out of the woods and shot him.
He said another person paid a man €6,000 to give O'Meara "a kicking".
Last July, 27-year-old Michael Dickenson of Darragh Park, Wicklow town, was jailed for life for driving O'Meara to the remote Ballydonnell Woods, where he was shot by another man, who then helped him drag the body into the grave.
During Dickenson's trial, he recalled thinking at the scene: "I was afraid if I had said anything, I'd have been shot myself,' the accused told the court.
"I was afraid I'd be killed myself because I'd witnessed it," he added.
When asked about the demeanour afterwards of the person he said shot O'Meara, he answered: "It didn't bother him."