Murdered man’s fight with INLA figure examined as motive

Andy Connors gunned down watching Rose of Tralee with wife and children

A family dog pictured yesterday morning at the scene of the fatal shooting on Tuesday night in Saggart, Co Dublin. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins.

A family dog pictured yesterday morning at the scene of the fatal shooting on Tuesday night in Saggart, Co Dublin. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins.

Thu, Aug 21, 2014, 01:03

A man who died after being shot at his west Dublin home in front of his wife and children had been involved in a fight with a prominent dissident republican earlier this year, gardaí believe.

Andy Connors, regarded by gardaí as a prolific criminal, had also clashed with a Dublin businessman with strong links to organised crime, and had been subjected to extortion demands by the Real IRA.

However, a fight earlier this year with a member of the INLA is regarded as the likely motive for his murder on Tuesday night at his home in Saggart, while watching the Rose of Tralee on television.

Gardaí said Mr Connors had been under threat from the time he inflicted injuries on the INLA figure, though other possible motives for his murder were also being explored.

The 45-year-old father-of-six attended a wedding in Monasterevin, Co Kildare, on Tuesday, but was spending the night at his home at Old Pound, Boherboy, Saggart, south Dublin, when he was gunned down.

A masked gunman entered the property through an unlocked door at about 11pm.

Six shots fired

At least six shots were fired, and Mr Connors was wounded several times in the upper body.

His wife, four of the couple’s children and a niece were present and witnessed the murder. The children range in ages from eight to 15 years.

As the killer escaped, the emergency services were alerted.

Gardaí were at the scene in minutes, and the Garda helicopter was also scrambled to the area in the hope of identifying any getaway car speeding from the scene.

A garda gave Mr Connors CPR before paramedics arrived. However, although he was still alive on the ambulance journey to Tallaght hospital, Mr Connors was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

A murder investigation has begun and is being conducted by gardaí in Clondalkin station.

Mr Connors, a member of the Traveller community, had about 30 convictions, including for trespass, assault, possession of an article with intent to cause injury, larceny, malicious damage, possession of drugs and driving without insurance.

Reckless endangerment

In August 2006 he was jailed for three years for reckless endangerment after he fired a shotgun at a burial at a graveyard in Co Wicklow to mark the death of a young relative.

While Mr Connors fired the shotgun into the air, another man he was with fired it twice into the crowd of mourners. A headstone was hit, but nobody was injured.

He was previously forced to offer for sale a more substantial family home in Tallaght when the Criminal Assets Bureau served him with a demand for €160,000 in unpaid tax on income he could not explain, which the bureau believed represented the proceeds of crime.

That house was described by some sources as palatial, with a pool and sauna, though Mr Connors is believed to have lived mainly in a caravan on the substantial grounds of the property. He also traded in land, horses and caravans.

He had been a target of the Garda’s anti-burglary Operation Fiacla in recent years.

Break-ins

Mr Connors was suspected of involvement in a gang that engaged in house break-ins and also more organised burglaries.

These involved gangs stealing high-powered cars and travelling around the country carrying out targeted burglaries at homes and businesses, looking for cash or high value items for resale – crimes the dead man specialised in planning.

Attempted robbery

In December 2012 he was jailed for 10 months by a court in Cork for his lead role in an attempted robbery at a large property, to which they had travelled specifically to carry out the crime.

When younger members of the gang called to the door of the target house and got no reply, they tried to break in, only to be confronted by the owner, who was working in his shed at the time.

Gardaí caught them as they tried to escape in a BMW driven by Mr Connors, who was jailed for the longest period of the group.