Noel Duggan murder: Residents of Ratoath estate in shock

Body of removed from scene of Co Meath shooting as gardaí appeal for witnesses

Gardaí appeal for witnesses who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously in the vicinity of the fatal shooting of Noel ‘Kingsize’ Duggan in Ratoath, Co Meath on the evening of March 24th.

 

Ratoath, Co Meath residents were shocked at the news of the fatal shooting of Noel ‘Kingsize’ Duggan in a quiet cul-de-sac on Wednesday evening.

Duggan (55), nicknamed ‘Kingsize’ for his prolific cigarette smuggling, was ambushed as he sat in his Mercedes car outside his home in The Old Mill housing estate in Ratoath at approximately 7.45pm.

Gardaí have appealed for witnesses who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously in the vicinity of the fatal shooting.

There were few neighbours to be seen near the crime scene on Thursday morning, where gardaí had cordoned off the entire green area opposite the semi-circle of houses with plastic tape.

Locals using a busy shop nearby were not keen to speak to media. One man working there said: “Well, everyone is just very shocked. We went for a walk around there just after it happened,” he said. Emergency services had been on the scene quickly, he said.

Another man, a customer, said: “I think people will be very careful what they say in these circumstances.”

There was a blue plastic tent outside the house covering the car where Mr Duggan had been fatally wounded shortly after he pulled into his driveway in his Mercedes.

His remains were at the scene overnight and were removed in a hearse followed by a Garda car shortly before 10.20am. At about 11am the car, covered entirely in black plastic, was hoisted onto a recovery vehicle and taken away for examination.

A short distance away at Cairn Court, just off Glascarn Lane, gardaí also examined the two vehicles which had been found on fire shortly after the shooting.

One was a black BMW and the other a Saab. Yellow evidence markers were visible on the ground as members of the Garda Technical Bureau photographed the cars. Both had been removed by early afternoon but a marked Garda car remained at the scene.

The housing estate where Mr Duggan was shot dead is just off the main road to Fairyhouse leaving Ratoath, which has been transformed from a small village into a large commuter-belt town over the past decade and a half. A national school and a Montessori school are nearby.

Garda Superintendent James Cannon briefed media at Ashbourne Garda station some miles away early on Thursday afternoon.

“Any time that a man is shot down in his own driveway in front of where his family were inside in the house, that is a barbaric act,” he said, when asked about the brutal nature of the attack.

He declined to comment on the dead man’s personal links with suspected armed robber Gerry Hutch, known as The Monk.

“I wouldn’t like to speculate at any stage about associations of the deceased person, who was named last night as Noel Duggan. He was a family man and we are investigating this as a murder investigation.”

Supt Cannon said he would await the outcome of Thursday’s post-mortem before commenting on how many times Mr Duggan had been shot.

He said that when gardai attended at the scene on Wednesday night they had found a man with gunshot wounds.

He was in the front seat of his car, a Mercedes, which was parked in the driveway of his home. It appeared he had just arrived at the house. Medical assistance had arrived on the scene “very quickly”.

The State pathologist attended and pronounced death a short time later, Supt Cannon said.

“We are particularly interested in a man who was seen in dark clothing running from that scene onto the Fairyhouse Road. That was at the time of the shooting.”

The man had run across the green area opposite the house, he said.

Gardaí were also interested in a dark-coloured car, possibly a BMW, driving onto the Fairyhouse Road and heading in the direction of Fairyhouse.

“A short time after the shooting, two cars were found burnt out by gardai in Cairn Court, which is just off Glascarn Lane. One of these cars was a BMW car. Very shortly after that, somebody was seen getting into a dark-coloured saloon car and heading in the direction back into Ratoath village.”

Gardai could not say at this point whether it was the man seen running from the crime scene who had gotten into the BMW.

“We are very interested in anybody who has seen either of those two vehicles leaving the scene of the shooting or leaving the scene where the cars were discovered on fire in Cairn Court, which is a very short distance away in the direction of Fairyhouse.”

Supt Cannon said the Garda Technical Bureau had finished the initial examination at both scenes in Ratoath and that the results would be subject to an investigation.

Earlier, archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin condemned the latest gangland-style murder and warned criminals that violence will be their downfall.

Duggan made one of the largest settlements with the Criminal Assets Bureau and was a key player in the lucrative cigarette smuggling trade which flourished during the recession.

He had a close personal relationship with Gerry Hutch, the suspected armed robber also known as the Monk.

Gardaí believe Duggan was targeted by Dublin-based members of the organised crime gang led from Spain by Dubliner Christy Kinahan because he was so closely linked to Hutch.

In a Holy Thursday sermon at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, Archbishop Martin said: “We live in a world which is often harsh and violent.

“We have witnessed horrific, hate-filled violence and retaliation on our streets again last night; when will these people learn that violence and revenge only lead to further violence and revenge?”

“They feel that violence is their strength; yet violence will be their downfall. Will they ever learn?” Duggan was murdered outside his home in The Old Mill estate in

Archbishop Martin spoke out following the Byrne and Eddie Hutch murders when he appealed to mothers and grandmothers of the criminals to help end the feud.

The Kinahan gang is embroiled in a rapidly worsening feud with criminals loyal to Gerry Hutch’s nephew Gary Hutch (34) from Dublin’s north inner city.

Gary Hutch, who was once a member of the Kinahan gang, was accused of being a police informer by his associates and was shot dead in Spain last September.

Last month some of his associates stormed into the Regency Hotel in Drumcondra, north Dublin, where they knew members of the Kinahan gang would be gathered for a boxing tournament weigh-in.

Using AK47s and handguns, at least five gunmen opened fire, killing Kinahan gang member David Byrne (33) from Crumlin, and wounding two other men.

Three days later Eddie Hutch (58) - a taxi driver uncle of Gary Hutch and the brother of Gerry Hutch - was shot dead at his home in Dublin’s north inner city.

Hutch’s murder was regarded as revenge for the Regency Hotel attack, even though Eddie Hutch was not involved in organised crime.

It is more than 10 years since the last gangland-style gun attack in Ratoath, a commuter town less than an hour from Dublin. In 2003 a man was shot as he arrived home in the Fox Lodge area of the town with his wife.