Families must 'search their conscience'
Gardaí have appealed to those close to the gang members who shot dead Det Garda Adrian Donohoe to “search their conscience” and come forward with information that might help solve the murder of the 41-year-old father of a boy and girl aged seven and six.
Senior Garda sources said the wives, partners or other people close to the killers had knowledge or suspicions about their involvement in the attack at Lordship Credit Union last Friday night and could come forward to supply information in confidence.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said while the motive for the attack was robbery, once Det Garda Donohoe arrived on the scene and got out of his car, the gang had deliberately murdered him. Garda sources said the raider aimed at the victim’s head deliberately.
Mr Shatter told the Dáil: “I can say one thing with certainty: whatever their background, it was a cold-blooded gang who deliberately took the life of a member of An Garda Síochána.”
Legal sources have said even if the initial motive was robbery and not murder, the aiming of a weapon at a garda and the firing of it would be viewed as murder by the courts. And because all five raiders were engaged in a joint enterprise, all five could be charged with that offence if sufficient evidence was found.
Photographs of the black 08 VW Passat used by the murder gang have also been released in the hope people who saw the car in the three days between when it was stolen and used in the robbery and murder would come forward. The car was stolen during a burglary on a house in Clogherhead, Co Louth, between 11.30pm last Tuesday and 4.30am last Wednesday. Gardaí said there was a large funeral in the area that night and that might jog the memory of witnesses.
Gardaí are trying to determine if the vehicle was stolen by the gang or if they bought it from a burglar who stole it for resale but did not know what it was for. Garda sources said anyone involved in the car theft but not in the murder and robbery in Bellurgan, Jenkinstown, last Friday “needs to come forward and talk to us immediately”.
A number of criminals based in Louth have recently been breaking into houses to steal the keys for vehicles outside.
Many of the vehicles have not been recovered while others have been fitted with the registration plates of identical cars so they would not be identified as stolen if the registration was checked on a Garda database. The suspects behind those robberies will now be interviewed.
“If it was robbed and sold, the person who did that would need to be careful he wasn’t prosecuted in time for withholding information, especially given the seriousness of what was used for,” said one source.
Those who shot Det Garda Donohoe were trying to rob the Lordship Credit Union at the time.
When he arrived with his partner Det Garda Joe Ryan to provide an armed escort to a movement of cash, the raiders were waiting. The gang drove their car across the car park entrance when the unmarked Garda car arrived, trapping the two gardaí in the car park.
When Det Garda Donohoe stepped out of the vehicle to investigate, one of the raiders opened fire immediately with a shotgun, fatally wounding him in the head before he had a chance to speak or reach for his gun. At least three of the gang members armed with a shotgun, handgun and hammer then ran at two cars in the car park owned by credit union staff while threatening Det Garda Ryan to stay back .
They smashed the window of one car with the hammer and took a bag containing €4,000 but missed bags in the other vehicle containing a more substantial sum. They then jumped into a car which was driven away at speed and found burnt-out at Darkley, near Keady, south Armagh, last Sunday morning. The murder and robbery were recorded on CCTV.