Garda chief warns Donohoe killers of ‘knock on the door’

Inquiry on gun murder during robbery in Louth last year progressing well, says Callinan

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has said there were people in the community North and South of the Border who had key information on the killing of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe (above) and who need not fear stepping forward to help bring the killers to justice. Photograph: PA

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has said there were people in the community North and South of the Border who had key information on the killing of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe (above) and who need not fear stepping forward to help bring the killers to justice. Photograph: PA

Fri, Jan 24, 2014, 17:55

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has warned the men who killed Det Garda Adrian Donohoe exactly 12 months ago that they would be “getting a knock on their door” and needed to continue to “look over their shoulder”.

The investigation into the gun murder during a Credit Union robbery in north Louth last year was progressing well, and gardaí would continue until they brought the matter to a conclusion - whether it took “a week or a year”.

Speaking to the media at Dundalk Garda station this evening on the eve of the first anniversary of the killing, Mr Callinan said there were people in the community North and South of the Border who had key information and who need not fear stepping forward to help bring the killers to justice.

“What we are clearly saying is, ‘Come forward and help us, we will make sure no harm comes to you’,” he said.

“We have a proven track record in these kind of sensitive inquiries. We will leave no stone unturned in terms of protecting them. We will look after them and we will do that very forcibly.”

Anybody threatening people who had information would be “dealt with very severely”.

He urged those involved in the crime who were at the scene, or others who helped prepare the robbery, to come forward voluntarily while they still had a chance.

“Now is the time, before we come knocking on the door. I say to the people involved in this crime, ‘Keep looking over your shoulder’.”

He said people close to the suspects knew what they did on the night of the killing and in the aftermath of the murder. They had a choice to make about what kind of society they wanted to live in.

“These are the people who are shielding the murderers and to whom I am making a heartfelt plea to come forward and help us, so we can progress the investigation faster.”

He was reluctant to put a timeline on when arrests may occur or when suspects may be charged, and also declined to say what jurisdictions the suspects were currently in. However, the force was “keeping a close eye on the target”.

“We believe we know the identities of the people who carried out this crime,” he said.

Mr Callinan said his thoughts and those of his colleagues were with Det Garda Donohoe’s widow Caroline, herself a member of the force based in Dundalk station, as well as with her young son and daughter, and the extended families.

There have been no arrests to date, though a large volume of work has been completed by the investigation based in Dundalk under Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny, Chief Supt Pat McGee and Supt Gerry Curley.

Some 4,000 lines of inquiry have been explored, 2,100 statements taken, almost 400,000 hours of CCTV viewed, over 1,200 exhibits gathered and more than 30 searches carried out under warrants.

Suspects in the case have given pre-prepared statements to the PSNI denying involvement and have been monitored in the US by the authorities there and also followed over by Garda members, who invited them - to no avail - to give statements.

Another gang member who was not at the scene but is believed to have helped plan the robbery went to Australia, and has since returned. He has been spoken to, though not arrested.

The Dutch police have assisted in the enhancement of some CCTV images and the PSNI, Mr Callinan said, had been of “tremendous assistance”. Interpol and Europol had also aided in the inquiry.

Det Garda Donohoe, a 41-year-old father of two, was shot dead by a five-man gang on the night of Friday, January 25th, last year. He and his partner Det Garda Joe Ryan were about to provide an armed escort for cash from Lordship Credit Union, Bellurgan, north Louth, when they were ambushed in the car park.

The dead man was shot in the head as he stepped from his unmarked Garda vehicle to investigate why another car had driven across the exit of the credit union car park.

The gang then grabbed a bag containing just over €4,000 from a vehicle owned by a credit union staff member and sped across the Border a short distance away into south Armagh, where their stolen VW Passat was found burnt out the next day.

The suspects are in their 20s and are members of a gang of armed robbers based North of the Border area. Gardaí believe there were five men on the scene when the shooting occurred and that at least three of them are now living on the east coast of the US. Another suspect is currently living in Co Down.

The killer was armed with a shotgun that was fired once, while another gang member had a handgun. A third had a panel beater’s hammer that he used to smash the window of the car the money was taken from. The hammer was recovered from the scene and a DNA profile has been taken from it.