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Exclusive: First picture of feared gangster Keane back on the streets

Crime DeskBy Patrick O'Connell
Back on the streets: Liam Keane
Back on the streets: Liam Keane

THIS IS the first picture of feared gangster Liam Keane back on the streets of Limerick following his release from prison.

Mobster Keane was released from Portlaoise prison on Saturday of last week after serving an eight-year sentence for the possession of a Glock semi-automatic weapon and 13 rounds of ammunition in Limerick on May 4, 2008.

Ballistic tests on the weapon showed that it was the same gun that had been used to fire 14 bullets at Jimmy Collins on Hyde Road less than two weeks earlier.

Collins, a then-member of the now defunct McCarthy/Dundon gang, was wounded but survived the horrific daylight attack.

This week, senior sources warned any efforts by Liam Keane to go after those 
responsible for the shooting of his dad Christy last June will result in his swift return to prison.

Thug Liam had previously been charged with the murder of teenager Eric Leamy in the city. 

Mr Leamy died on August 28, 2001, after he suffered a fatal stab wound to his side.

That murder trial famously collapsed after a number of other witnesses denied making statements identifying Liam Keane as the killer.

Keane stuck his two fingers up at photographers as he walked free from the Central Criminal Court in Dublin after the DPP ordered that a ‘Nolle Prosequi’ should be entered with his presumption of innocence still intact.

Sources this week said Keane has been keeping his head down – sticking mainly to his home at Singlands Gardens in the city – in the wake of his release.

We snapped Keane on Thursday taking a rare stroll close to his dad Christy’s house while smoking a cigarette.

“The gangland scene in the city is utterly changed from what it was when Keane was jailed,” a senior source warned.

“And any attempts by anyone to return to the kind of violence that characterised the bitter feud will be met head on by Gardai.

“A number of the senior members of the gang who were running riot in the city before Liam was locked up are either facing into lengthy sentences or are already behind bars.”

A major fear for Gardai in advance of Keane’s release was that he might become a focal point for gangsters aligned to the Keane clan to come together and seek revenge for the attempted hit on Christy Keane last year.

Keane (55) was shot on the grounds of the University of Limerick last June.

He had just parked his Nissan jeep and was making his way to an early morning gym session at the University Sports Arena when he was targeted by two masked men armed with hand guns.

The well-known convicted criminal, who visits the gym a number of times a week, was shot several times in the upper body and arms but managed to flee 100 yards before collapsing on the running track behind the arena, where he was discovered by emergency crews.

Sources this week told The Sunday World that Keane Snr is currently recuperating in Spain.

The same sources said that due to the severity of the muscle injuries he sustained in the shooting it is unlikely he will ever regain full use of his arm.

Keane Snr’s shooting occurred just weeks after a Garda sergeant warned of an increase in hostilities between members of criminal organisations previously based in the Moyross and St Mary’s Park areas.

During a bail hearing at Limerick district court, Det Sergeant Pádraig Byrnes said there had been “green shoots and a re-emergence of the feud which dogged the city for years”.

He was referring to the Keane/Collopy factions long-running feud with the McCarthy/Dundon faction in the city.

The court heard that at least 18 murders can be directly linked to the feud over the past 14 years and that gardaí fear there could be a further loss of life involving the “new wave of gang members.”