A `dangerous and obnoxious' career criminal

 

Seamus Hogan, who was shot dead as he left a drinking club in Crumlin, south Dublin, on Saturday night, was described by gardai who knew him as a `dangerous and obnoxious' career criminal.

In recent years Hogan had also become loathed in the Dublin underworld where he was - correctly - suspected of being a Garda informant. Two attempts were made on his life two years ago after gardai intercepted a drugs shipment due for him and his associates in 1999.

Hogan agreed to become a highly placed informant in order to escape imprisonment. He had spent six years in Portlaoise prison after he was arrested, having tried to shoot gardai who arrested him in 1988.

He had a difficult time there, where he was also suspected of being an informant. Former associates who were also in Portlaoise ganged up and assaulted him. They tried unsuccessfully to cut his ears into a point in order, they believed, to give him the appearance of a "rat", one of the criminal world's terms for an informant.

Martin Cahill's gang became incapable of organising and carrying out significant robberies after his death in 1994. They missed his organisational skills and leadership. Most of the group moved into drug-dealing.

There were suspicions two years ago that Hogan or other former associates of Cahill might have returned to armed robbery. After years in which gardai had effectively stopped large armed robberies, largely through the use of the highly trained and well armed Emergency Response Unit a number of serious robberies occurred in 1999.

Cahill's gang, which was at times barely under control and constantly bickering under his stewardship, have been at each others' throats since he was murdered by the gang which eventually murdered journalist Veronica Guerin.

There have been several attempts on the lives of former Cahill gang members. In most cases, the attacks are a result of inter-criminal activity. However, the Provisional IRA has also been active in Dublin and has shot dead a number of criminal figures and carried out attempts on others.

Hogan's career as a robber lasted from the late 1970s until 1988 when he was finally apprehended during a confrontation with gardai in Clondalkin. During the 1980s Cahill's gang moved into drug-trafficking and attracted the attention of anti-drugs activists associated with the group known as the Concerned Parents Against Drugs. Cahill, Hogan and their associates set up a front group referred to as Concerned Criminals Action Committee and attacked the houses of some of the anti-drugs protesters.

Hogan acted as group spokesman and was interviewed by a number of journalists. The group also smashed up houses belonging to figures involved with anti-drugs activities after they had marched on his house. Later on there were conciliation meetings in Tallaght between Hogan and his associates and representatives of Sinn Fein. It was agreed if there was any further violence between the two groups there would be inquiries. However, breaches of the accord took place almost immediately.

Hogan was arrested in March 1984 and questioned about the shooting and injuring of an antidrugs activist, Joe Flynn, at St Theresa's Gardens in south Dublin. The following morning an IRA gang kidnapped one of Hogan's associates, Tommy Gaffney.

Gaffney disappeared for a week. Then the IRA gang attempted to kidnap another Cahill gang member, Martin Foley, on March 22nd, 1984. The gang was intercepted a few hours later by gardai in Phoenix Park and opened fire on them. Four IRA members were captured and later sentenced for kidnapping and possession of guns. Foley and Gaffney were freed.

Foley remained a target of the Provisional IRA which tried again to murder him at Easter last year. Two IRA members were arrested when gardai encountered two men acting suspiciously near Foley's home in Walkinstown.

As gardai approached the two on their motorcycle, the rider revved the engine and drove off causing his passenger to fall off.

A loaded handgun was found at the scene and when gardai searched an apartment belonging to one of the men, they found details of Foley's movements and about the movements and addresses of associates, including Hogan. Although the two IRA men, one of whom worked for Sinn Fein during elections in the North, were arrested and documents found, neither was charged.

Hogan was described by gardai as an intemperate character who was involved in a succession of disputes among former associates in Dublin's gangland. And he was obnoxious; while being questioned in a Dublin Garda station he once defecated in the interview room and smeared his clothes and face.

He was suspected of being responsible for an attempt to murder a former associate in Ca hill's gang in January 1999. The intended victim was shot three times but survived.

In 1999 Hogan escaped two attempts on his life. On August 31st he was only slightly injured when he was hit in the back with a shotgun blast as he walked home from a pub with his wife, Lily, in Crumlin close to where he was shot dead on Saturday evening.

A month earlier he was shot at with a handgun from a car as he walked along the street in Crumlin. He was not injured in that attack. These attacks probably stemmed from the drugs seizure when he became suspected of being an informant.

A few of Cahill's associates have succeeded in becoming significant criminals in their own right, although most have declined in recent years, unable to contend with the array of new Garda powers including the criminal assets seizure legislation.

One of Cahill's and Hogan's associates has become the biggest heroin trafficker in Dublin. He was responsible for importing the contaminated heroin which caused several deaths among intravenous drug-users last summer.

The same contaminated heroin, which originated in Liverpool, has reappeared, with several serious illnesses reported in Dublin in recent weeks.