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'Philly' killed by a hitman 'from North'

A NOTORIOUS gangster whose body was found in a Wicklow forest a year ago today was murdered by a hitman from the North, gardai believe.

The development comes as the DPP is deciding whether to charge a close friend of Philip 'Philly' O'Toole, who disappeared from his home on January 7 last year, with the gun murder.

Gardai have recommended charges in the case, but sources have claimed there is insufficient evidence and that officers have instead focused on a known criminal who is believed to have led O'Toole to his death.

ABDUCTED

The suspect who gardai hope to charge in the murder has numerous previous convictions and has served jail for dealing cocaine and cannabis.

O'Toole was abducted and shot in the head. He was reported missing by his family in Arklow, Co Wicklow, after he failed to contact them.

The following day, gardai located his blue BMW 3-series coupe, parked at Dargle Avenue, close to roadworks, at Lower Dargle Road in Bray.

The bitter feud which led to his death kicked off after his former criminal associates turned on him when he started "sourcing his own drugs from a major Dublin gang".

They also branded him an informer and put up graffiti on walls on estates in Bray in 2011.

O'Toole is survived by his parents Brendan and Irene, sister Lorraine, his partner Jennifer, and his seven-month-old son Noah.

The gangster, who had multiple previous convictions, was a major crime figure in Bray and had strong connections with drugs gangs.

He survived an earlier gun attack in Enniskerry in August 2011 when he wrestled with a gunman before being shot in the stomach. He was also arrested by gardai investigating the shooting of the Finglas criminal Glen McGrath (43) outside the Cappagh House pub in Finglas in December 2010.

McGrath – a former associate of slain gangland boss Paul 'Farmer' Martin – survived but was left in a critical condition after being shot three times in the chest and stomach.

The shooting was linked to a prison row between gangsters from Finglas and Bray. O'Toole was one of eight arrested. All were released without charge.

SHOTGUN

His most serious criminal conviction occurred in March 2008 when he received a four year sentence after he pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a sawn-off shotgun in Santry, north Dublin, in April 2007.

O'Toole told gardai that he had been holding the gun for another person, but was on his way to dispose of it.

His barrister told Dublin Circuit Court that O'Toole was acting under the direction a person he was frightened off, and that his client was struggling with cocaine and alcohol abuse.

kfoy@herald.ie


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