NewsCrime Desk

REVEALED: Eight of Ireland’s most notorious contract killers

Sword wielding hitman Paul Hopkins
Sword wielding hitman Paul Hopkins

HIRED killers are a breed apart in the criminal underworld, willing to take a life in cold blood for money.

Drug gangs often use their own members, who see murder as a fast-track to promotion within a criminal outfit.

However, sometimes a contract killer is needed for a job to take out a target who is alert to a threat from a rival gang.

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Killings carried out by hired assassins are notoriously difficult for the gardaí to solve, but there are several professional killers behind bars.

These are the men who have taken a contract, but instead sold themselves to a life sentence in jail.


During the lethal internal feud among former members of a north inner-city gang in Dublin led by convicted paedo rapist Christy Griffin, both sides knew each other well.

Potential targets were likely to know those who were coming for them.

That’s where Jonathan ‘Yuka’ Douglas came in handy.

Jonathan ‘Yuka’ Douglas

He had been sitting in a pub on Parkgate Street in February 2010 when he was approached and asked to shoot Aiden Byrne.

Byrne was related to other central figures in the bitter row that eventually claimed four lives.

Douglas took the offer there and then, leaving a drink behind to wait in hiding for his target to appear.

A car pulled up at Drumalee Avenue off the North Circular Road in which the 31-year-old was a front seat passenger.

The killer didn’t hesitate to carry out the contract and shot Byrne 10 times as he sat in the car.

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Four years previously a bitter gangland feud in Limerick had been raging when the Dundon-McCarthys decided they wanted ‘Fat’ Frankie Ryan dead.

Hitman Gary Campion had been his friend and less than 48 hours after getting out of jail was sitting in a car with Ryan in Moyross.

Gary Campion

Ryan was blasted in the back of the head at close range.

Campion boasted that he was paid €100,000 by the McCarthy-Dundons to carry out gangland hits while threatening to kill a prison officer.

“It wouldn’t be my first time,” he chillingly told the officer.

Implicated in four contract killings, he was eventually convicted of two murders, including that of bouncer Brian Fitzgerald in 2002, in which he drove the getaway motorbike for an English hired killer.

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The gunman that day was James Martin Cahill, who also said he was paid €10,000 to carry out the shocking killing of the innocent security man.

James Martin Cahill

Cahill, troubled by his conscience and the desire to save his own skin, later confessed to the murder and also gave evidence against Campion.

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Cahill’s decision to talk also opened the way for the successful prosecution of Dublin man Barry Doyle, who was hired by the same mob to kill John ‘Pitchfork’ McNamara in 2008.

Barry Doyle

It was the Dubliner this time who pulled the trigger.

However, instead of killing McNamara the man who died was innocent rugby player Shane Geoghegan.

The killing sparked protests in a city weary of the gangland feud, yet just months later businessman Roy Collins would be the next to die, on the orders of Wayne Dundon.

Doyle’s brother Paddy had already been a victim of a hitman’s bullet in Spain, in an attack which Gary Hutch escaped only to be gunned down just last year as part of the current Hutch-Kinahan feud.

Like any industry, it seems there are family businesses involved in murder-for-hire.


Keith Wilson is a brother of Ireland’s most prolific gangland serial killer, Eric ‘Lucky’ Wilson, who is serving life in Spain for murder and is linked to up to 10 gangland killings.

Keith Wilson

Keith Wilson is serving a life sentence in Ireland of the murder of another suspected contract killer, Daniel Gaynor, in 2010.

He had been hired by a gang boss caught up in another feud who feared Gaynor would be contracted to kill him.

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Another Wilson brother, John, was the victim of contract killer Keith O’Neill in September, 2012.

Keith O'Neill

O’Neill had been subcontracted by another criminal who had been promised €40,000 to have Wilson whacked.

It is believed neither O’Neill nor the gangster who hired him ever saw a single cent for the killing.


There seems to be no shortage of young thugs willing to take up contract killings on behalf of gang bosses.

Gary Howard, who is serving two life sentences for the murders of Patrick Mooney (58) and Brendan Molyneux (46), in 2010 was the hitman of choice for the notorious gang boss Eamon ‘the Don’ Dunne. He is also suspected of murdering Michael Murray in 2009.

Gary Howard

There are other high-profile killings where the gunman has never been brought to justice.


But when it comes to being a rank amateur, Paul Hopkins has to take the prize for his brutal killing of Derek Benson.

Paul Hopkins

Hopkins, jailed for life in 2004, agreed with Jacqui Noble to kill her abusive boyfriend for €5,000.

She drugged him in his flat and then Hopkins arrived with a sword to hack him to pieces. After the gruesome killing, Hopkins walked home in his underwear, covered in blood and carrying the sword.

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