NewsCrime Desk

Breen pal quizzed over shooting of ‘King Rat’ Neil Fitzgerald

Crime DeskBy Patrick O'Connell
Karl Breen
Karl Breen

A convicted burglar and close associate of Champagne Killer Karl Breen was one of three people quizzed this week in connection with the shooting dead of ‘King Rat’ gang member Neil Fitzgerald.

The thug – who is in his mid-30s – was arrested alongside a female associate on Monday and was quizzed by gardaí for 48 hours on suspicion of withholding information about the murder of Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald, described as jailed drug dealer Brian Rattigan’s right-hand man, was shot four times in the body and twice in the head in remote Hill Lane, outside Tallaght, just after midnight on Saturday of last week.

Brian Rattigan

The body of the 35-year-old – who was living in Blessington in Wicklow – was left where it fell on the centre of the lane, where he bled out before being discovered the following morning.

A local resident this week told the Sunday World that Fitzgerald was “so badly disfigured” when discovered by another neighbour she initially believed he had been run down by a car.

The thug arrested in connection with the killing on Monday was a close associate of D22 gang leader Karl Breen – known as the ‘Champagne Killer.’

Following Breen’s release from prison in October, 2014, after serving seven years for stabbing his pal Martin McLaughlin (21), the pair posed for pictures holding flutes of champagne.

Breen died of a drug overdose the following February.

The arrested man’s identity cannot currently be disclosed as he is before the courts facing serious charges in connection with a series of armed robberies.

Neil Fitzgerald

It’s understood he was quizzed by gardaí in Tallaght over his interactions with Fitzgerald in the days leading up to his murder.

This newspaper also understands he has claimed to Gardaí to be the subject of an ongoing threat against his life.

He was released from custody on Wednesday after being quizzed at Tallaght Garda Station for more than 48 hours.

Gardaí believe it is highly likely that Fitzgerald – who had an address in Dufferin Avenue off the South Circular Road in Dublin – was lured to the isolated laneway after being betrayed by someone he trusted.

Fitzgerald had only been released from Portlaoise Prison in late January after spending six years locked up alongside Brian Rattigan in the prison’s C-block.

He originally received a 10-year jail term after pointing a loaded handgun at three Garda detectives following a high-speed car chase.

It later emerged that the weapon with which Fitzgerald threatened gardaí was used in an attack on feud rival Freddie Thompson’s home.

The suspect poses with a handgun

Gardaí believe that after being released from prison Fitzgerald began carving out his own drugs territory, which may have made him a target for existing drugs gangs.

A number of altercations in which Fitzgerald was involved in are also being examined.

On the Wednesday before he died Fitzgerald became involved in a violent row during which he slashed a young man in the face.

Associates of feared gangsters Graham ‘the Wig’ Whelan and Thompson were drawn into the quarrel, with Fitzgerald warning the Kinahan Cartel associates that he would kill them.

It is understood this is one of a number of threats Fitzgerald had made against rival gangsters since his release from jail.

  • Anyone with information should contact Tallaght Gardai on 01 666 6000 or on 1800 666111.