After comfortable start, 'Dutchy' devoted rest of his life to crime


ANALYSIS:Patrick Dutchy Holland was a career criminal suspected of Ireland’s most notorious murder

IT WILL come as no surprise to many senior Garda detectives that the gangland criminal and suspected murderer Patrick Eugene Holland has died in a prison cell.

After a promising start to life which included success on the football field and a period in the US marines, Holland was drawn into a life of crime.

He was in and out of prison for most of his adult life and, from the age of 58, spent all but a few months locked up in Ireland and Britain. He died in his sleep in the early hours of yesterday morning at HMP Parkhurst, Isle of Wight.

Holland, also known by the nickname “Dutchy”, grew up in comfortable circumstances in Inchicore, Dublin. He went to the US and spent time in the marines before returning to Ireland in the early 1960s.

His first conviction, for handling stolen goods, was not recorded until he was aged 25. He was working at the time as the manager of a sausage company.

He married in his mid 30s and in the mid 1970s was suspected of carrying out a number of armed bank raids.

He was eventually jailed in 1981 for six years for armed robbery. On release, he enjoyed a near four-year period as a free man. He would never stay out of jail for as long again.

In 1989 he was jailed for 10 years for his role in a plot to supply gelignite and other bomb- making equipment to the IRA.

While in jail, he met members of what would become the John Gilligan drugs gang. On his release in 1994 he began working for them. Separately, he was also suspected of being a gun for hire.

He was one of a number of suspects for the murder of Patrick Shanahan who was shot in Crumlin, Dublin, in October 1994.

He was also once suspected of the murder of publican Tom Nevin in Jack White’s Inn, Co Wicklow, in March 1996 and of the murder of Jimmy Redden, who was shot dead in a pub off Parnell Street, Dublin, in April 1996. However, despite Garda suspicions, no firm evidence emerged linking him to the three killings.

Holland was not widely known to the Irish public until 1997 when he was named by a Garda witness in court as the man suspected of shooting Veronica Guerin dead the previous year.

He fled Ireland after the June 1996 murder and went to London and Amsterdam. In April 1997 he returned to Ireland and was immediately arrested.

He was charged with possession of cannabis on a date between October 1st, 1995, and October 6th. He appeared before the Special Criminal Court on those charges.

A Garda witness told the court she had arrested Holland as he got off the ferry at Dún Laoghaire because she had formed the view he had shot Veronica Guerin. Holland had listening devices in his shoes when arrested. Gardaí believed he thought the shoes could help him monitor progress in the Guerin murder probe.

Holland always denied the murder and was eventually convicted on the drugs charge.

He was jailed for 20 years but this was reduced to 12 years on appeal. With remission, he served nine years and was released from Portlaoise Prison in April 2006.

He was invited to appear on the Late Late Show but the editorial board of RTÉ vetoed the interview.

Holland had bought a small house near Brittas, Co Wicklow, which was seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

After being released from jail in April 2006, he began mixing with the major Finglas drugs gang headed by Martin “Marlo” Hyland. When gardaí raided one of Hyland’s houses they found Holland there.

In May 2007, a year after being released from jail, Holland was arrested in London by police investigating a plot to kidnap a businessman for a £10 million ransom.

His trial was told the kidnap plot was ordered by a European businessman, Patrick Van Court, because he believed businessman Nasir Zahid had double-crossed him over a £10 million VAT fraud.

A woman who was to be used as “sex bait”, Khan Coombs (24), planned to apply for a secretarial job with Zahid in London. She planned to seduce him and bring him to a location in London where her male accomplices, including Holland, would kidnap him.

The plan ran into difficulties when Coombs was told Zahid’s company had no vacancies. The gang were under police surveillance and were arrested before they had time to come up with an alternative kidnap plan.