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Marked man 'Poncho' flees after pal shot

DUBLIN criminal Paul 'Poncho' McCarthy is on the run today, hiding out in a secret rural location after his pal was shot dead in a gangland hit.

Investigations are continuing into the savage murder of Shane Rossiter in Co Tipperary, with sources suggesting that the 30-year-old was targeted because of "a relatively small drugs debt".

'Poncho' McCarthy (27) -- a close relative of Declan O'Reilly who was shot dead last month -- has been warned by gardai about an imminent threat against his life over the past few days, leading him to flee the capital.

'Poncho' was in the house in Golden, Co Tipperary, when Rossiter was shot yesterday and detectives are still probing whether he was the intended target. The most likely theory is that Rossiter was murdered by his own former associates in a drugs dispute.

'Poncho' fled Golden in the aftermath of the shooting. A source explained: "McCarthy had been staying at the house in Golden to escape all the heat in Dublin where he is a marked man. It is sadly ironic that a person also staying in the house where he was based would be shot dead rather than him."

'Poncho' is a well-known criminal, originally from Inchicore. In 2009, he was given a lengthy jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to a spate of crimes including falsely imprisoning and robbing a man.

The Herald previously revealed that 'Poncho' has been hanging around a south inner city complex where he has been demanding to know who murdered Declan O'Reilly.

O'Reilly was targeted last month after a lone gunman jumped from a BMW and blasted him as he walked along the South Circular Road with his 11-year-old son.

Sources say that the death threats against 'Poncho' are directly linked to his close friendship with O'Reilly.