Robbie Lawlor profile: A feared criminal with a long list of enemies

Criminal suspected of role in three murders including killing of Keane Mulready Woods

Dublin criminal Robbie Lawlor had been warned by gardaí that his life was danger.

Videos celebrating the murder of Dublin criminal Robbie Lawlor on Saturday started appearing on social media well before his identity was officially confirmed.

In fact, it was the appearance of these videos which helped the PSNI confirm the identity of the Dublin hitman who was shot to death in the front garden of a house in the Ardoyne area of Belfast.

One video showed youths cheering and dancing in front of a house in Darndale after hearing the news. Another was of well-known organised crime figure toasting the murder with a shot of vodka.

Such was the length of Lawlor’s list of enemies that his death will come as little surprise. In recent months, gardaí had even given him an official notification that his life was in danger along with a list of precautions he should take to keep safe.


Originally from Donaghmede in north Dublin, Lawlor (36) has been involved in serious criminality since at least the age of 18. This includes his suspected involvement in at least three murders, the most recent of which was the killing of 17-year-old Keane Mulready Woods whose dismembered remains were found in January.

Lawlor is also a major suspect in the 2018 murder of Kenneth Finn in Coolock and the shooting dead of David "Fred" Lynch in 2005. During his criminal career Lawlor amassed some 125 previous convictions but mostly managed to avoid lengthy prison sentences.

Police forensic officers at the scene of a shooting at a house on Etna Drive in the Ardoyne area of Belfast on Saturday. Photograph: PA

One of the most serious charges levelled against him was the 2013 robbery of a cash box from a McDonalds in Donaghmede during which a handgun was put to the head of a security guard.

Three days later, Lawlor was spotted by gardaí trying to hide some of the cash taken during the robbery which had been marked with blue dye.

He was originally charged with robbery but the DPP later accepted a guilty plea to the lesser charge of possession of stolen cash. Lawlor received a 32 month sentence, just slightly less than his accomplice who was convicted of the robbery charge. The sentence was later reduced to 26 months on appeal.

A father-of-three, Lawlor claimed to be an unemployed fitness instructor. In one court appearance in 2017 court was told he was a “petty, recidivist sort of offender” who was trying to go straight.

In fact, he was one of the most feared and hated gangland figures in the country.

Lawlor’s final major tussle with the law ended in December with the collapse of his trial for the attempted murder of a Dublin woman.

He was accused of trying to shoot Fiona Mitchell dead in revenge for her son dating his former partner. He was also alleged to have killed the woman's dog during the attack.

The case fell apart and Lawlor was acquitted when it emerged his former partner had lied to gardaí about key facts.

Lawlor walked free from court, triggering a nationwide alert to Garda stations amid fears his release would trigger attacks from those involved in feuds in Dublin and Drogheda.

The fears were well-grounded.

Shortly after his release Lawlor was attacked by an associate of David Lynch, the man murdered in 2005.

The attacker filmed the incident and can be heard telling Lawlor “this is only the start of it.” Lawlor’s gym bag was also stolen and over the next few days his rivals taunted him by putting photos of themselves on social media wearing his flip-flops.

When a pair of flip-flops were found in the bag containing some of Keane Mulready Woods’ remains on January 13th, it was interpreted by investigators as message from Lawlor to his tormentors.

It is tempting to link Saturday’s murder to the brutal murder of Woods but Lawlor had many, many enemies who wanted him dead, including criminal rivals and family members of his previous victims who had vowed revenge.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times