NewsCrime Desk

Face of target of gangland hit that almost killed a child

Crime DeskBy Sunday World
Kenneth Roche
Kenneth Roche

This is the 25-year-old criminal who was the intended target of a reckless shooting which almost led to the murder of a four-year-old boy.

Kenneth Roche - who is under death threat because of a drugs debt - went into hiding after last Friday's shooting incident in Finglas in which a gunman wearing a balaclava shot at him four times.

A four-year-old boy narrowly missed being hit by a stray bullet in the botched gangland hit.

The young boy was sitting in the back of his father's car in the Charlestown shopping centre in Finglas at 6.15pm.

Sources have revealed that gardai are investigating whether criminals linked to gangster 'Fat' Freddie Thompson were behind the shocking gun attack and if a cash-strapped junkie was used to carry out the hit.

The Herald has learned that Roche became a target after the gangsters decided that he was liable for a drugs debt that was owed by his close pal Gerard Eglington (27) who was shot dead in Portarlington, Co Laois in September, 2012 as part of the same dispute which is linked to the deadly Crumlin/Drimnagh feud.

It is understood that Eglington owed a debt of around €30,000 when he was shot dead, and after his death the mobsters decided to pass it on to his close pal Roche.

Sources say that gardai are working on the theory that Roche was lured to a meeting in the car park of McDonald's at the shopping centre when he was targeted.

It is understood that he was dropped there by a female associate and was walking to a car when he noticed the masked gunman running towards him and he fled the scene.

The gunman who opened fire and almost killed the young boy is also suspected to owe money to the drugs gang.

Gardai believe that Roche was "extremely lucky" not to suffer the same fate as his friend Eglington who was murdered almost four years ago.

Eglington was at home with his 11-year-old stepdaughter and three-year-old son when the deadly attack occurred at about 8.30am on September 24, 2012, at Kilnacourt Woods, in Portarlington, Co Laois.

The gangster was previously involved in a savage assault on 'Fat' Freddie Thompson's older brother Richie at the Karma Stone pub in the city centre on March 13, 2011.

Ritchie suffered a broken leg in the attack and his partner was slashed in the face.

Roche was also involved in the attack on Ritchie and he was jailed for nine months in March 2013, for his role in the savage beating after he pleaded guilty to violent disorder.

Roche has a number of convictions. A previous court sitting heard that he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder after the murders of his brothers just eight months apart in 2005 as part of the Crumlin/Drimnagh feud.

On March 9, 2005, Roche's brother John (25) was fatally shot in the chest as he got out of his car in Kilmainham.

No one has ever been charged with this murder which gardai believe was carried out by the 'Fat' Freddie Thompson gang.

Just eight months later, another brother, Noel (27), was shot dead at point blank range as he sat in the passenger seat of a Ford Mondeo on Clontarf Road at around 10.30pm on November 15, 2005 - he was hit three times with bullets to the face and chest.

North inner city criminal Craig White, who acted as a getaway driver, is serving a life sentence for Noel's murder which gardai believe was carried out by slain hitman Paddy Doyle.

These shocking murders had a devastating impact on the victims' younger brother Kenneth who was aged just 14 at the time.

Senior sources say that the Roche brothers' mother is an "extremely decent woman" who has been left heartbroken over the violent events surrounding her sons.

Another older brother of Kenneth's, David (32), is serving an eight-year jail sentence at the high-security Portlaoise Prison after he pleaded guilty to serious firearms offences in relation to an incident in 2009, in which a shot was fired into a woman's home in Drimnagh.

David, who is not due to be released until this October, was arrested with another criminal after a terrifying high-speed chase with gardai.

Kenneth Roche has been living in Co Laois since his release from jail but had been making regular trips to the capital.

No arrests have been made yet in relation to his attempted murder in Finglas on Friday.

In an appeal for information, gardai said the gunman escaped in a silver-coloured Volkswagen Golf - registration number 02 MH 7775 - which was driven by another man.

This car was burnt out later on Friday at the Shancastle estate in Clondalkin.

A relative of the four-year-boy who was almost hit by a stray bullet in the attempted assassination told how close the child came to harm in the daylight attack.

The boy was with his father in the car park of McDonald's when the shooting happened.

"He was going down for a Happy Meal and the little lad was in the back in his child seat and the bullet came in through the back door and through the seat.

"He was in a high seat and as far as I know the bullet is stuck in the seat," said the relative. "If he had been any lower or higher, he was gone," he said.