Murder inquiry after beach shooting

 

A murder investigation was under way last night after a drug dealer was shot dead in a gangland-style attack in Co Meath. The victim, who is in his 30s and from Drogheda, Co Louth, was shot in the head as a German woman and four young children looked on.

The shooting took place at Tower Road, Mornington, on the beach close to where the River Boyne flows into the sea.

The dead man had not been identified last night but was named locally as Roy Coddington. He had been heavily involved in drug dealing for about 15 years and was very well known to gardaí in the Louth-Meath division. Some of his close associates were similarly well known and, unlike the murder victim, have served lengthy sentences for drug dealing.

Senior Garda sources last night said that while the motive for the killing was not yet clear they would be investigating the dead man's links to the drugs trade. "He is somebody who has been on our radar for a very long time," said one senior Garda source.

It is understood Mr Coddington drove his van to the area where he was killed just after 4.15pm. He parked the vehicle close to a shed near houses on Tower Road. He then met at least two men who are believed to have been known to him.

The victim got in the men's car which was driven down a track towards the beach. He was then taken from the vehicle and shot a number of times in the head at close range.

His remains were left in short grass. A German woman who is understood to have witnessed the attack rushed to help the victim as the killers fled in their vehicle. However, Mr Coddington died immediately.

A very substantial area around the murder scene remained closed to the public last night with gardaí expected to comb the area for evidence this morning.

One local woman who did not want to be named told The Irish Times there were a large number of people on the beach at the time, many of whom were walking their dogs or were with children.

"We're absolutely shocked by this. A few people who spoke to the German girl said she was very traumatised. Other people in the area heard the shots. It's incredible to think that somebody could be taken out of a car and just shot like that."

Garda technical experts carried out an examination of the area and the dead man's van was also taken for technical examination. A preliminary examination of the body was carried out at the scene last night. It was then removed for a full postmortem examination, the results of which are expected to be known today.

Yesterday's shooting was the fourth gangland-style murder since the start of the year. It follows the shooting of Dublin drug dealer Robbie O'Hanlon in Clondalkin in the west of the city last week. There have also been two other gun murders in Clondalkin this year.

Last November another Drogheda drug dealer, Paul Reay (26), of Marley's Lane in the town, was shot dead by a well-known Dublin gang who feared he was about to turn Garda informer after he was caught with a major cocaine haul last summer.

Gardaí believe Dublin gangs have in recent years developed much closer links with criminals in surrounding counties in a bid to satisfy the market for drugs in areas where major housing developments have been built in the last five to 10 years.

Some Dublin drug dealers have invested heavily in property in Meath and Louth.