Suspect in Garda shooting has lengthy involvement in crime

Dubliner involved in gangland crime and served 10 years for cocaine possession

 Members of the Garda Technical Bureau  examine the house on Whitechapel Grove, Blanchardstown where a man opened fire on gardaí from an upstairs bedroom window. Photograph:  Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Members of the Garda Technical Bureau examine the house on Whitechapel Grove, Blanchardstown where a man opened fire on gardaí from an upstairs bedroom window. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

 

The man being questioned about the shooting of two Garda members during a siege in west Dublin is a convicted drugs 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 worth up to €70,000 on the street.

Then, he was arrested after his car was stopped by a Garda checkpoint. He threw a kilogram of cocaine from the vehicle before reaching the gardaí, but it was spotted by a member of the public who alerted the Garda.

He challenged his sentence before the Court of Criminal Appeal, but lost and served the sentence. Since his release five years ago, he has kept a low public profile, according to gardaí.

Before his sentence for possessing cocaine, he was heavily involved in drug dealing in west Dublin and had become involved in a violent feud centred on Blanchardstown, Corduff and Clonsilla.

He has a conviction, too, for possessing a hand grenade – as well as more than 20 other convictions – and has survived several attempts on his life during a series of gangland feuds over nearly 20 years.

However, gardaí believe a dispute he is currently involved in with significant gangland criminals on the Dublin drugs scene has escalated seriously of late.

The man, from Whitechapel, Blanchardstown, was recently warned by gardaí that his life was in danger. Gardaí believe he had two guns at his home – a machine pistol and a handgun.

The weapons 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 attacks.

A number of bullet holes were visible in the wounded detectives’ Garda vehicle, which was still parked outside the house on Wednesday afternoon. Bullet holes could be seen, too, in the window of an upstairs bedroom at the house.

Garda forensic experts had marked areas of the house’s driveway and the pavement outside where bullet casings were found, or where bullets had hit the concrete.

Westies gang

The suspect and an older man, who he was been closely associated with all his life, were members of the so-called Westies gang, based around Blanchardstown and Corduff in west Dublin.

Both were lucky to survive in their early 20s when a rival opened fire on them with a machine gun shortly after they had been released after questioning by Blanchardstown gardaí.

Many of the suspect’s contemporaries have been murdered, including Bernard Sugg (23) in Dublin in 2003, and Shane Coates (31) and Stephen Sugg (27) who were murdered in Spain in 2004.

Coates and Sugg were key players in west Dublin criminality then. Following their murder they were buried in concrete under a warehouse floor and their bodies were not found for three years.

The man who is in custody in Blanchardstown was closely associated, too, with brothers Andrew and Mark Glennon, aged 30 and 32, who were shot dead in April 2005.

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.