NewsCrime Desk

Amateur gun for hire took on botched hit that killed dad at short notice

Crime DeskBy Nicola Tallant
Amateur gun for hire took on botched hit that killed dad at short notice

The hitman who shot dead a completely innocent man on Sheriff Street on Friday was an amateur assassin hired with less than an hour’s notice.

Officers do not believe that the gunman knew his target, as he shot indiscriminately at three different men who were all wearing blue jackets.

A young hitman, who was a protégé of Kinahan enforcer Paul Rice, was one of the names put forward as the possible gunman in the hours after the shooting.

However, the criminal figure, who is also suspected of being involved in the shooting of ‘Mad’ Mickey Devoy – another Kinahan Cartel hit – was quickly discounted as he has remained loyal to the Hutch side in the deadly feud.

The 25-year-old also knows Keith Murtagh – the man believed to have been the target of the botched assassination on Friday which left an innocent dad dead.

Keith Murtagh

Witnesses have told officers that the shooter sat on his pushbike as he pulled out a gun on the street where Murtagh and others were talking. He initially fired a number of single shots, but then fell from his bike and his firearm slammed off the ground.

When he got back up again the gun started to spray bullets, as if it had switched to automatic mode, and witnesses say he didn’t even know who he was shooting at, directing his fire at three different individuals all in the same colour jacket.

In the panic, Martin O’Rourke was tragically killed and the gunman fled on his bicycle, casually dumping the gun in a wheelie bin as he went.

Gardaí suspect that either someone close to Murtagh, or someone who was in the area at the time, made a call to describe what the target was wearing and detectives are hoping to examine phone traffic as part of the investigation.

It is understood that the Hutch group will also be looking closely at who might have tipped off rivals that Murtagh was home and in the Sheriff Street area.

Officers suspect the attack was hastily organised and that the Kinahan Cartel used an inexperienced local shooter.

The tragic death of Mr O’Rourke, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, is the fifth gun murder in Dublin in 10 weeks and will put enormous pressure on the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan to tackle organised crime head on.

The speed with which the Kinahan mob retaliated to the killing of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel has been ferocious and is placing a huge strain on the Gardai. 

While Friday’s shooting was an amateur attempt by the Kinahan mob to show their rivals that they aren’t just going for easy targets, it was chilling proof that the city is awash with firearms and that a hitman can be hired with less than an hour’s notice.

It is understood that the Kinahans have trained up their own army of hitmen at specialist shooting ranges in Eastern Europe over the past few years. However, many of the skilled gunmen are now in the Hutch camp and are in direct opposition to their former associates.

Others still remain loyal to the cartel, including a four-man hit team believed to have targeted both Eddie Hutch and Noel ‘Kingsize’ Duggan. 

Forensic evidence found in burnt-out escape vehicles used on the two hits is still being examined, but officers are hopeful that they will have enough to bring the killers before the courts.

While officers are investigating the murder of Byrne, Hutch, Duggan, the killing of Vinnie Ryan and now the murder of O’Rourke, they are also investigating another botched hit last week which saw a gunman narrowly miss a child.

Gardai believe that the target of last week’s shooting in Finglas was a well-known criminal and rival of ‘Fat’ Freddie Thompson. Officers believe that associates of Kenneth Roche, whose two brothers were shot dead during the Crumlin-Drimnagh feud, had placed a €100,000 contract on Thompson’s head. 

Freddie Thompson

A known hitman took up the offer and collected some of the money, but instead of carrying out the murder it is understood he told Thompson about it, signing Roche’s death warrant in the process.

Meanwhile, raids have continued against businesses and individuals with links to the Byrnes of Raleigh square and the Kinahan mob. This week, a car business outside the city was targeted and in the past few weeks.

It remains unclear at this point who is in command of the Kinahan mob in Ireland in the absence of Daniel Kinahan, who has returned to Spain. 

Gardai suspect Thompson is on a rampage to re-assert his power, as is his cousin, Liam Byrne – a brother of David Byrne.

Both have been close with Daniel Kinahan and particularly since the murder of Gary Hutch. However, Gardai say relations have cooled over the past few weeks as Byrne began to demand more was done to avenge his brother’s death.

Meanwhile, ‘Fat’ Freddie was stopped by gardaí twice last Wednesday night wearing a bullet-proof vest and on one occasion wearing women’s clothing.

He was halted on his way through Drimnagh by detectives. The mobster was wearing a lady’s hat, a pair of women’s designer sunglasses and a Kevlar vest. Later he was stopped again in a car with three known criminals who all wore bullet-proof vests.