Gardaí are trying to determine if a man shot dead in a shopping centre car park in Dublin was lured to his death by somebody he trusted.
Fitness instructor John Gibson, a father of two from Lucan, Co Dublin, died of multiple gunshot wounds on Monday night after being ambushed in a car park on Fortunestown Lane, Tallaght.
Gardaí believe he may have gone there to meet somebody, but that information on his whereabouts was passed on to his killers, facilitating his murder.
Detectives are hopeful the piecing together of his final conversations with loved ones, and his mobile phone use in the hours before he was killed, may shed light on whether he was set up.
The murder, at 9.20pm on Monday, is being linked to the shooting dead of his associate Darragh Nugent in Clondalkin, on Monday of last week.
And gardaí believe the violence that has claimed the lives of both men has its origins in two other murders within days of each other in west Dublin four years ago.
Gibson was in his silver Audi car in the car park outside Eddie Rocket's restaurant at the side of Citywest Shopping Centre at 9.20pm on Monday when at least two men in a Volkswagen Caddy van pulled up.
One of the men got out of the van and fired shots into Gibson’s car. He realised what was happening and made an effort to get out of the Audi.
However, he was wounded several times, including to the head, and fell to the ground. The gunman got back in the VW van and was driven by an accomplice from the scene.
The van used in the attack was later found burned out around 1km away at Verschoyle Green.
Supt Peter Duff said the Garda did not know why the deceased had gone to the shopping centre car park where he was shot. He also declined to confirm any links between Gibson's murder and other killings.
“Irrespective of any other fact, I think we’ve got to keep cognisant of the fact that a 28-year-old man died here last night. And two young children are left without a father.”
He added significant resources were being made available to investigate the latest two shootings. The inquiry involved local gardaí being aided by the force’s specialist units.
“We will put every effort into the investigation of this crime,” he said of Gibson’s murder.
This fresh round of bloodletting comes as the Garda remains stretched in Dublin in its efforts to quell the Kinahan-Hutch feud.
Senior sources said both Nugent and Gibson were gunned down in what appeared to be well-planned attacks by experienced killers.
Nugent (36) was shot dead outside his home in west Dublin last Monday night by people who initially tried to kick in his front door.
At least two of Nugent’s young children and his partner were in the house on Wheatfield Avenue in Neilstown when he was shot and killed in the front garden.
Nugent was known to gardaí and was involved in the drugs trade and gun crime. He had been caught with a firearm in recent months and was awaiting trial on bail on that charge.
Nugent’s killing, and now that of Gibson, have been linked by Garda sources to two other gun murders in the same area in August 2013.
Dean Johnson (21), Greenfort Lawns, Clondalkin, was shot dead on Harelawn Green. Five days later Jason Carroll (39) was shot as he tried to run to the safety of his nearby home on Cherrywood Drive.
Johnson was killed in a case of mistaken identity by a gunman who intended to shoot dead a drug dealer from the area.
As a result of the botched effort on his life, that drug dealer is suspected of killing Carroll, who was a member of a rival faction, five days later.
However, since those two murders the drug dealer at the centre of the dispute has been jailed. And gardaí believe the rival faction who tried to murder him back in 2014 are now attacking his associates.
Both John Gibson and Darragh Nugent were friends of the man now in prison.
The faction suspected of killing Gibson and Nugent are based around the Clondalkin area and are heavily involved in the drugs trade and gun crime.
They have been targeted not only by local gardaí in west Dublin but also by the specialist Garda units, including the Criminal Assets Bureau.
Monday night’s victim, John Gibson, was a fitness instructor and had been in court on minor drugs charges just three months ago.
That court appearance related to an incident in Swords, north Co Dublin, last December when a small quantity of ecstasy was found in his possession.
The 28-year-old was found carrying the drugs, valued at about €30, at a road traffic checkpoint.
Judge David McHugh fined him €100.
While many people caught with such a small amount of drugs would escape without a criminal conviction, Judge David McHugh said he was shocked by Gibson’s attitude towards the drugs.
The judge said because Gibson was in employment and was a fitness instructor he had little sympathy for him.
Through a lawyer, Gibson said the drugs belonged to a friend but he was keeping them for his own use. Gibson had said he “didn’t have any issue” with the drugs, though he knew he should not be taking them.
Judge McHugh described the ecstasy as “death pills” and because of Gibson’s relaxed attitude in that regard he said he could not be allowed to leave court without a criminal conviction.
“It’s quite shocking. There is not a chance of me leaving him without a conviction,” said Judge McHugh. “I consider his profession to be an aggravating factor. He should be ashamed of himself.”