Kelly murder inquiry continues
Gardaí investigating the shooting dead of veteran gangland figure Eamon Kelly are hopeful forensic tests on the getaway vehicle used by the killers will link a chief suspect to the crime.
A man arrested in the minutes after Kelly’s murder outside his home in Killester, north Dublin, yesterday afternoon was still being questioned today.
While he was arrested on foot on the same street the getaway vehicle was abandoned, Garda sources said he was a distance away from the car when detained and his proximity to the vehicle will not be enough to charge him directly in relation to the murder.
However, he is being questioned about illegal possession of a firearm and membership of an illegal organisation, with a criminal charge on the latter now seen as most likely before his period of detention expires tomorrow.
The man is in his early 30s and is a member of the Real IRA. He has served prison sentences following a number of serious convictions related to his association with the dissident organisation.
The gun used to kill Kelly has still not been recovered and gardaí are now working on the theory that the man under arrest was the getaway driver and not the person who pulled the trigger.
They believe the gunman had escaped the scene on Stiles Court in Clontarf just before a patrol car arrived and uniformed gardaí arrested the suspect who is now in custody.
Detectives have not ruled out the possibility that the gunman took the murder weapon with him after getting out of the getaway car. They also believe the gun may have been discarded in the general location of the killing on Furry Park Road or as the killer and his driver sped down Howth Road before turning in the residential area at Stiles Court.
The getaway car had been set on fire at that location and the suspect under arrest was walking off as gardaí arrived.
However, the vehicle was only partially burned and gardaí are hopeful it will yield forensic evidence that will link the man in custody to the crime and also offer other clues that may lead to the arrest of his accomplice.
The car had not been reported stolen and gardaí now believe it was a so-called “company car”, which had failed the NCT and had traded hands for cash on the black market. Any previous legitimate owners are now being traced in an effort to establish its ownership history to as recently as possible.
Garda search teams today combed the murder scene and the area where the getaway vehicle was found in the hope of finding the murder weapon.
Door to door inquiries were also conducted, with gardaí looking for any witnesses who may have seen the getaway car – a black Lexus 96 D 27994.
They believe the killers were waiting outside Kelly’s home on Furry Park Road before he arrived at the property on foot just after 4pm and was gunned down. Gardaí want to speak to anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area between 2pm and 4.30pm.
The investigating team has also appealed for anyone who was in the Stiles Court area around the time the getaway car was abandoned, and efforts made to set it on fire, to come forward. The cul de sac is to the rear of Clontarf Cricket and Rugby Club.
Kelly, a 65-year-old father-of-nine, was heavily involved in organised crime. From Summerhill in Dublin’s north inner city, he had lived for more than 30 years on the middle-class street where he was killed, just off the Howth Road and next to Clontarf.
A convicted cocaine dealer, gardaí believe Kelly had spent the last decade mentoring many of the criminal gangs leading the drugs trade in Dublin. Some of those gangs have become involved in feuding with the Real IRA in the city in recent years, after the dissidents tried to extort money from them.
The feud has resulted in a number of pipe bomb and shootings attacks, with a number of men having lost their lives linked to that violence.
On September 3rd last, Real IRA figure Alan Ryan was shot dead on the street in Clongriffin in north Dublin and a man he was with was seriously wounded but survived. That killing significantly escalated the feud.
Gardaí believe Ryan was shot dead in a conspiracy between a number of crime gangs as part of their efforts to resist the extortion demands of the Real IRA, with Ryan having led that extortion campaign.
Intelligence suggests the Real IRA believe Eamon Kelly had assisted the gangs in organising the Ryan murder, with Kelly believed to have been gunned down as a result of his involvement.
He had survived an attempt on his life outside his house two years ago when the gunman ran off after pointing his weapon at Kelly’s head only for it to jam. The Real IRA were the chief suspects for that incident.
Having started his working life as a labourer on building sites and for the ESB, Kelly was a one-time member of the Workers Party and was on the fringes of the Official IRA.
He became involved in Kellys Carpetdrome, which was wound up in the early 1980s owing millions of pounds and he also had a share in a property company at that time.
He stabbed a man in 1984 outside the Workers Party Club in Dublin’s north inner city and sentenced to 10 years, though he secured a retrial at which he was acquitted on some of the charges.
In 1992 he was caught collecting cocaine valued at £500,000 from a Cuban woman in a Dublin hotel after it had been smuggled from Colombia via Miami. He was jailed for 14 years but from the time he was freed just over a decade ago he had taken on the role of senior mentor to younger gang leaders including Eamon Dunne, the head of a major Finglas gang before he was shot dead two years ago.
The investigation into Kelly’s murder is based at Clontarf Garda station but is being aided by a range of specialist units including the anti terrorist Special Detective Unit.