Conor O’Brien murder inquiry: gun seized from man in Carlow pub being examined

Man arrested over gun now being questioned about fatal shooting of Wexford teenager

Conor O’Brien  had never come to the attention of gardaí and was not known to have fallen foul of any criminals. Photograph:  An Garda Siochana/PA Wire

Conor O’Brien had never come to the attention of gardaí and was not known to have fallen foul of any criminals. Photograph: An Garda Siochana/PA Wire

 

A gun seized from a man in a pub in Co Carlow is being examined to determine, as gardaí suspect, if it was the same firearm used in the murder of 19-year-old Conor O’Brien in Co Meath last week.

A middle-aged man who was arrested over the gun find at the pub on Tuesday night has now been arrested for questioning about the murder of Mr O’Brien, who had no involvement in crime and whose murder baffled gardaí.

The unusual circumstances resulting in the arrest of the suspect began on Tuesday night when gardaí were called to a disturbance in a pub in Carlow town just after 10pm. When gardaí arrived at the scene they found a Glock handgun and the middle-aged man was arrested for questioning relating to that firearm.

As he was being questioned, the gun underwent ballistics testing. On Wednesday evening, gardaí said the man arrested in Carlow had now been arrested in relation to the murder of Mr O’Brien.

Blacksmith apprenticeship

Gardaí said the suspect was being held at Carlow Garda station under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act over the gun find. And on Wednesday he was arrested on suspicion of “offences connected to the fatal shooting” of Mr O’Brien last Thursday night.

Originally from Gorey, Co Wexford, Mr O’Brien had been staying in lodgings on the grounds of a house owned by a family member on Trim Road, Enfield, Co Meath. He was about to start a blacksmith apprenticeship in Limerick, had no convictions and was not known to gardaí in any way.

When his remains were found at about 8.30am last Friday outside the house in Enfield it was quickly determined he had been shot once in the chest in an attack at about 8.30pm the night before, though his remains lay undiscovered overnight.

Gardaí now believe Mr O’Brien had an interaction with a well-known criminal from Dublin last Thursday. That interaction should have been brief and “straightforward” and was not criminal in nature, Garda sources said. There was no information to suggest Mr O’Brien knew of the man’s criminal background or that he had ever met him before.

Postmortem

When a postmortem confirmed Mr O’Brien had been shot by a third party a murder investigation was begun. Detectives soon discovered the contact between the dead man and the Dublin criminal on the day he was shot. They interviewed the criminal, who answered questions voluntarily and was not arrested.

That man’s car was also taken by gardaí for a technical examination, mainly to determine if there was any trace of gunshot residue in the vehicle. As the investigation continued, gardaí in Carlow were on Tuesday night called to the incident in the pub where a gun was found and a middle-aged suspect arrested. The same man was on Wednesday formally detained for questioning about the fatal shooting of Mr O’Brien.

Gardaí suspect the firearm found in the pub in Carlow town was the same weapon used in the fatal shooting of Mr O’Brien last week. However, the precise motive for that shooting remains unclear.