| 11.5°C Dublin

Net tightens as new gang laws take aim at kingpin 'Dee Dee'

ONE of the Dublin criminal underworld's most fearsome and eccentric gangsters is becoming the focus of Ireland's new anti-gang law provisions.

From keeping a female Jaguar and another big cat in his garage to bribing a garda involved in the Veronica Guerin murder, Derek 'Dee Dee' O'Driscoll has proved himself an unpredictable and dangerous character.

Associates of O'Driscoll (36) are also firmly in the sights of gardai. The gang is suspected of running a major criminal organisation in south Dublin.

As well as animal cruelty and bribing a garda, O'Driscoll has convictions for assault, larceny, dangerous driving and criminal damage. He does not have any drugs convictions.

O'Driscoll rose to prominence in 1997 as a 23-year-old when he was convicted of animal cruelty for causing unnecessary suffering to the jaguar and an African serval -- a wild cat -- and keeping them in cruel conditions.

When the two large cats were discovered, there was no sign of food or water and there was a strong stench of urine. The serval was growling and snarling in an agitated way. The door of the cage was a shelf from a fridge propped up by a block.

He also found a 2 1/2 year old female jaguar in a wire mesh pen. The 12 foot by nine-foot pen contained the cat, a half eaten pig's head, wood shavings but no water.

Sentencing O'Driscoll to three months, Judge Gillian Hussey said: "If either of those animals had got out, I don't want to contemplate what might happen.

"As an animal lover I am sickened by the way they were locked up, which can only suggest a depraved mind."



Bribes

O'Driscoll was also one of the criminals who were found guilty of paying off Garda John O'Neill who was sent to prison in 1998 on 16 charges of accepting bribes.

On one occasion in 1996 when O'Driscoll bribed the former garda with £5,000, the criminal organised that the hand-over of the money be videotaped so he could use the footage to blackmail the corrupt garda.

The videotape plan was hatched along with another Dublin criminal, Tony Long.

Both of them were arrested in October 1996 within weeks of the meeting -- but despite gardai carrying out extensive searches the tape has never been recovered.

On the same day that Gda O'Neill was jailed, O'Driscoll, who comes from Croftwood Park, Ballyfermot, and his associate Tony Long were fined £45,000 or a year in prison on default in 1998 for his role in the bribery scandal.

O'Driscoll was officially unemployed at the time, and paying the fine would have alerted the Criminal Assets Bureau to his hidden proceeds from crime, so he fled to Portugal where he continued to run his gang.

While abroad, the fearsome O'Driscoll took over control of large parts of the city's criminal operations that had once been dominated by Georgie Mitchell, known as the Penguin, and the now incarcerated John Gilligan.

He slipped up while taking a risky trip back to Dublin to ring in the new millennium at the end of 1999.

In a covert operation, gardai acting on a tip-off from a rival raided a rented apartment on Camden Street where he hoped to spend the New Year with members of his family.

O'Driscoll was sent to Portlaoise prison, where he served one year for the bribery charge.

A total of 69 criminal suspects have been arrested since the introduction of tough new anti-gangland laws last year.

It is understood the DPP is considering a number of other garda files recommending further gangland charges.



Intimidation

The measures also created a new offence of controlling or directing a criminal organisation; increased the maximum penalty for participating in or being involved in organised crime; gave the court power to draw inferences from failure to answer questions or account for movements, actions, activities or associations; and increased the penalty for intimidation of a juror or witness from 10 years' imprisonment to 15 years.

Mr Ahern said these measures, together with the 2009 Surveillance Act, had been invaluable in helping gardai tackle organised crime.

hnews@herald.ie


Privacy