Irish gangland figure John Traynor dies in the UK

Traynor was a suspect in the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996

John Traynor (73) was closely linked with organised crime boss John Gilligan

John Traynor (73) was closely linked with organised crime boss John Gilligan


Infamous Irish gangland figure John Traynor, best known as a source for journalist Veronica Guerin and as a suspect in her murder, has died.

Traynor (73), who was closely linked with organised crime boss John Gilligan, died on Sunday in a hospice in the UK where he has been living for the past several years.

He had previously been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

In the 1990s, the Dublin man was second in command to Gilligan who was then at the height of his criminal career.

Before that, Traynor acted as an advisor to notorious crime boss Martin Cahill, also known as the General, who was behind many of the most well-known robberies in the State.

In 1982, Traynor supplied information to the Cahill gang on the O’Connor’s jewellery manufacturing facility in Harold’s Cross, in south Dublin, leading to the robbery of more than £2 million in jewels.

The scale of the theft was staggering at the time, and helped make the gang one of the Garda’s top priorities.

Four years later he also assisted the Cahill gang in the theft of the highly valuable Beit art collection from Russborough House in Co Wicklow. Traynor is believed to have stored the paintings in a business premises he owned in Arbour Hill in Dublin. the premises was later seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Drug importation

Cahill was murdered by the IRA in 1994 and Traynor started working closely with Gilligan, who then had one of the largest drug importation operations in the State.

Traynor was also associated with the INLA and was involved in prostitution and fraud during his criminal career.

In 1992, Traynor received a seven-year term for involvement in a stolen bearer bonds scam in the UK. He later absconded while on temporary release.

He became a source for Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin, who dubbed the criminal “the Coach” in her articles.

Traynor was frequently in contact with the journalist before her murder in 1996. At the time of Ms Guerin’s death, he was attempting to obtain a High Court injunction to stop her reporting his role in the drug trade.

Traynor, a father of four, has long been suspected of playing a role in the murder of the journalist. Gardaí believe he tipped off the Gilligan gang about where Ms Guerin would be on the day she was shot.

He fled the country immediately after the murder, only returning occasionally. He was last in Ireland three years ago for his father’s funeral.

After moving around Europe for several years following the murder, he was arrested in Amsterdam and sent back to the UK to serve the remainder of the 1992 sentence. He was released in 2012, having suffered several heart attacks in prison, and settled in a seaside town in Kent with his partner.