Possible cigarette smuggling link in Clive Staunton killing

Kinahan-Hutch feud link and personal dispute also being investigated by detectives

Supt Gerry Wall speaking to the media at Leixlip Garda station last week about the fatal shooting of Clive Staunton. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Photos

Supt Gerry Wall speaking to the media at Leixlip Garda station last week about the fatal shooting of Clive Staunton. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Photos

 

Gardaí investigating the fatal shooting of Clive Staunton in Leixlip, Co Kildare, last week have widened their inquiries beyond the Kinahan-Hutch feud in an attempt to catch his killers.

In the immediate aftermath of the killing of the 50-year-old father of one, his links to the Hutch family and their associates were being examined. However, the street trader was also involved in the illicit cigarettes market in Dublin and that is now a key focus for investigators.

Staunton had spent last Thursday evening selling items such as hats and scarves outside the Aviva Stadium where the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were playing a soccer friendly. He packed up his stall early and called to see friends in the north inner city, some of whom have been embroiled in the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

Staunton, a widower who was known to gardaí but not for violent crime, then drove home to the Glen Easton Way estate in Leixlip, Co Kildare. He was shot at three times in his van and, as he tried to flee, he fell. As he lay wounded on the ground, he was shot in the head. He died at the scene.

In March 2016 a close associate of the Hutch family, Noel Duggan (55) was shot dead outside his home in Ratoath, Co Meath. Duggan, nicknamed “Kingsize”, was heavily involved in cigarette smuggling. He was also very close to the Hutch family patriarch Gerry Hutch, the veteran criminal known as “The Monk”.

While Duggan’s links to cigarette smuggling were explored as a possible motive for his killing, that avenue was ruled out very quickly as it became apparent it was feud-related. It was carried out by Dublin-based members of the international Kinahan cartel because of Duggan’s close relationship with Hutch.

Black market

Like Duggan’s murder 2½ years ago, gardaí have examined cigarette smuggling and the Kinahan-Hutch feud as possible reasons for Staunton’s killing.

However, four days into the investigation the lines of inquiry examined to date suggest a dispute over black market cigarettes is the more likely reason for Staunton being shot dead.

This illegal trade, which involves counterfeit versions of well-known brands, or cigarettes smuggled into the State without taxes being paid on them, saw heavy involvement by the Provisional IRA during the Troubles, many of them working with criminal gangs from Dublin to smuggle the cigarettes into the State to be distributed. Since the peace process, some paramilitary figures have continued their involvement in the trade on a strictly for-profit basis.

While a link to the Kinahan-Hutch feud is still being explored in the case, gardaí are trying to establish if he was shot by former paramilitaries in a dispute over money from the cigarettes trade.

Gardaí also believe he had clashed with criminal elements over a personal matter, which is also being examined as a possible motive. Garda sources said the shooting was well planned, with the killers apparently lying in wait for Staunton at his home on Thursday night.

The Volvo S40 car used by the gunman and his accomplice was later found in Manor Kilbride, some 30km from the crime scene. It had been burned out in an attempt to destroy any forensic evidence.