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Pub gun ambush mastermind may never be caught

THE veteran gangster behind a Dublin pub shooting which led to three innocent men being shot is highly unlikely to be charged with the crime, senior sources have conceded.

The shadowy and much feared crime figure, from the Ballyfermot area, is based in Spain's 'Costa Del Crime', where he owns a luxury villa.

He has been a major target for the Criminal Assets Bureau and other specialised garda agencies for years and has made millions of euro from smuggling illegal cigarettes into Ireland.

Feared -- and respected -- in the criminal world, the mob boss has close links to notorious criminal Mark 'Guinea Pig' Desmond but is also known as a family man.

The millionaire first came to serious garda attention in the mid-1990s when he was arrested about the murder of a drug dealer in Ballyfermot.

This week a 34-year-old criminal, who was arrested over the shooting at the Players Lounge pub in Fairview, was released without charge.

The suspect -- who is a close associate of gangland serial killer Eric 'Lucky' Wilson -- was questioned for over 48 hours at Clontarf Garda Station, but there was not enough evidence to charge him.

Sources say that the 34-year-old, who has survived a number of attempts on his life, was ordered to murder a senior Dublin Real IRA member in the pub on the night of July 26 last year.

However the gangster -- an inexperienced gunman -- botched the hit and shot at three innocent men outside the bar who all miraculously escaped with their lives.

It is understood that the 34-year-old was enlisted for the shooting because his pal 'Lucky' Wilson was "not available" as he was remanded in a Spanish jail in relation to the pub murder of an English criminal -- a crime he has since been convicted of.

The man who ordered the hit is a gangland criminal aged in his 60s with serious IRA credentials. Last summer, he entered into a bitter feud with the Real IRA which resulted in two murders as well as The Players Lounge shootings. One of those murder victims was the veteran Ballyfermot crime lord's close pal, Colm 'Collie' Owens (34), who was gunned down at the Corn Store animal feed warehouse at Grove Industrial Estate, Dubber Lane, Finglas, when a masked man entered the building carrying a handgun at 12.10pm.


The gunman asked a staff member where Owens was and eventually found the gangster in a back room and fired between five and eight shots at the victim's head and upper body.

In the aftermath of this killing, the Ballyfermot crime lord vowed revenge and ordered the murder of another man with links to the Real IRA

With tensions threatening to spiral out of control, gardai received intelligence that both sides were planning to carry out bomb attacks on each other. But then an uneasy truce was brokered, which holds to this day.

Sources believe that as part of this truce, the crime lord "offered up" the 34-year-old who botched the Players Lounge hit and agreed to let the Real IRA kill him if they desired.

A Real IRA hit-squad is suspected of shooting the 34-year-old in April, but he survived the hit.