Man arrested over Dublin shooting had been warned of threat on his life

Convicted drug dealer who served 10-year sentence has long been involved in feuding

Gardaí outside the house in Whitechapel Grove, Dublin 15 on Tuesday. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Gardaí outside the house in Whitechapel Grove, Dublin 15 on Tuesday. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

 

The man being questioned about the shooting of two Garda members during a siege in a west Dublin housing estate on Tuesday night is a convicted drug dealer who has spent lengthy periods in prison.

The man, a Dubliner in his late 30s, was given a 10-year jail term just over a decade ago when he was convicted of possessing cocaine value at €70,000. At that time the man was heavily involved in drug dealing in west Dublin and had also become involved in a violent feud around the areas of Blanchardstown, Corduff and Clonsilla.

On the day he was caught with the drugs, when he was in his mid-20s, he as travelling in a vehicle that passed a Garda checkpoint on a road in west Dublin. The suspect had a kilogram of cocaine in his car and threw it from the vehicle before reaching the gardaí.

However, a member of the public spotted the drugs being thrown from the car and alerted gardaí to what had happened. The drugs were retrieved and the man was charged with drug dealing and spent almost a decade in prison after being convicted of that crime. He also has a conviction for possessing a hand grenade – as well as more than 20 other convictions – and survived an attempt on his life more than 15 years ago.

He launched a bid to challenge the cocaine-related conviction in the Court of Criminal Appeal but was not successful and served the sentence. Since his release about five years ago he has kept a lower profile in that he has not attracted a significant amount of media attention.

However, he has been involved in feuding for most of his adult life and gardaí believe a dispute he is currently involved in with significant gangland criminals on the Dublin drugs scene has escalated of late. The suspect, who is from the Whitechapel estate where Tuesday night’s siege took place, had been recently warned by gardaí that his rivals were conspiring to kill him.

He had been issued with a formal warning by An Garda Síochána that his life was at risk and was advised to take security precautions, including varying his routine. Gardaí believe the man had at least two firearms in his home, including a machine pistol and a handgun.

They believe these are effectively linked to his involvement in serious organised crime, though at least one of the guns was turned on Garda members on Tuesday evening, wounding two detectives.

Those guns have been sent for ballistics testing to determine which one was used to shoot the gardaí and also to establish if they have been used in any other gun attacks in recent years.

Negotiators

Gardaí went to his home on Whitechapel Grove, Dublin 15, on Tuesday evening to investigate reports of shots being fired there as well as reports that a middle-aged woman, believed to be the suspect’s mother, was also in the house. However, when gardaí arrived they were fired upon from inside the house, with one detective wounded in both the foot and hand and the other wounded in the foot.

Gardaí seal off the scene near the house in at Whitechapel Grove, Dublin 15, where a man shot two detectives on Tuesday night. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin
Gardaí seal off the scene near the house in at Whitechapel Grove, Dublin 15, where a man shot two detectives on Tuesday night. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

A large security cordon was thrown up around the scene and Garda negotiators opened talks with the suspect. He eventually threw the guns out of the house, after several hours of negotiations, and came out of his home stripped to the waist and with his arms raised.

The suspect and an older man who he was been closely associated with all his life were effectively members of a group of criminals based around the Blanchardstown and Corduff areas loosely referred to as The Westies.

That gang name was applied to a generation of young criminals, some of whom formed one gang but which also included their criminal rivals. Serious gangland feuding erupted between some of the criminals within the wider group and several men were shot dead.

Gangland culture

The suspect in custody on Wednesday morning on suspicion of shooting the two detectives on Tuesday night and his close associate were under risk of being murdered for many years in their 20s because of the gangland culture they were part of and the feuding that erupted within it.

Shane Coates and Stephen Sugg were key players in that west Dublin gang violence at the time and were effectively enemies of the man now being questioned about shooting the two detectives. Coates and Sugg were shot dead in Spain in 2004, at the ages of 21 and 27, and buried in concrete under a warehouse, their bodies not found for almost three years. They had fled Dublin for Spain as they were targets of the Garda and also because their lives were under threat from the feuding in west Dublin.

However, they are believed to have been abducted and murdered in Spain by a drug dealer based there rather than in connection with the feuding they were involved in back in west Dublin.

Sugg’s brother Bernard was shot in 2003, aged 23.

The rivals of Coates and the Suggs, brothers Andrew and Mark Glennon, aged 30 and 32, were shot dead in April 2005. The man being questioned at Blanchardstown Garda station on Wednesday was very closely associated with the Glennon brothers at the time of their murders.

The suspect has also had links to senior organised crime gang leaders in north Dublin, one of whom, Michael Kelly (30), was shot dead in Coolock in September 2011 by the Real IRA.