NewsCrime Desk

Eight ‘untouchable’ Irish gangsters who sealed their own downfall

Crime DeskBy Nicola Tallant
John Gillian
John Gillian

Twenty years ago they believed they were untouchable.

But when they plotted the murder of Sunday independent journalist Veronica Guerin, the members of Ireland’s most powerful drug gang sealed their own downfall.


1) John Gilligan

Along with his wife Geraldine, Gilligan sat at the top of the pile of a multi-million, cannabis smuggling gang.

Known as ‘Factory’ John, he forged contacts in Amsterdam to ship the drug into Ireland, making millions in the space of a few years.

He is now penniless, battling to keep a roof over his head and gangland hitmen from his door.


2) John Traynor 

He was an associate of the gang and a ‘fixer’ of sorts who introduced Gilligan to many of his key contacts.

Traynor was frozen out when the gang started making millions, which was always seen as his motivation for furnishing Veronica Guerin with her information.

He is suspected of providing the information of her whereabouts on the day she was gunned down.

Within days of the murder he fled Ireland and never returned.


3) Brian Meehan 

The only member of the gang serving life for the murder of Veronica.

He was the henchman charged with the distribution of drugs and the collection of monies.

He drove the getaway motorbike on the day she was murdered. He hasn’t enjoyed a day of freedom since being lifted in an armed swoop on the streets of Amsterdam.


4) Paul Ward 

A senior lieutenant in the Gilligan gang, Ward was first found guilty of the murder of Veronica, but later successfully appealed it and was acquitted.

He was released from prison in 2005 and is suspected of operating a drug business.


5) Russell Warren 

The gang’s bagman who shipped hundreds of thousands of euro out of the country each month on the orders of Gilligan.

He turned State witness after Veonica’s murder, entered the Witness Protection Programme (WPP) and was relocated abroad.


6) Charles Bowden 

A former army marksman and a karate black belt, he was part of the distribution of Gilligan’s bars of cannabis.

He turned State witness and also received a new life under the WPP.


7) Patrick Holland 

He was one of Gilligan’s hired help and an expert in extortion, punishment beatings and murder.

He was the gunman that Gilligan charged with the assassination of Veronica Guerin.


8) Peter Mitchell

He fled Ireland following the Guerin murder.

He was one of Gilligan’s most trusted lieutenants and is believed to have helped with the planning of her murder.

His crime empire in the Costa del Sol fell apart after the Sunday World exposed his hideaway and brought too much heat on his associates – including the Kinahans – who tried to kill him.

He fled Spain and is now living in Holland.