NewsCrime Desk

Former Dublin zookeeper shot over unpaid debt to criminal gang

Crime DeskBy Nicola Tallant
David Douglas in hospital after his miracle escape
David Douglas in hospital after his miracle escape

Detectives investigating the shooting of convicted drug dealer and former zookeeper David Douglas believe he has unpaid debts to known criminals.

Douglas’s links with associates of George ‘the Penguin’ Mitchell and with a Finglas-based drug gang are being examined.

It is understood he had a history of not paying up for supplies and a previous debt may have been called in since his release from prison.

Douglas remains in the Mater Hospital in Dublin, where he is being treated for gunshot injuries he received while out walking his dog on the Killala Road in Cabra earlier this month.

While his wife Yumei Douglas has insisted that her husband has changed his ways and is now a law-abiding citizen, it is understood that he has continued to have strong links with members of known criminal gangs.

He has been regularly spotted drinking with Gerard Hopkins – Mitchell’s main man in Ireland and has other well known criminal associates.

Douglas, who once worked at Dublin Zoo, was released from prison last year after serving a sentence for cocaine trafficking. He was caught along with Dennis Ashe (below), a former taxi driver from Dorset Street in Dublin in possession of more than €500,000 worth of cocaine.

At the time, Douglas was described as a leading dog fighting enthusiast, despite his work as an animal keeper at the zoo.

Douglas was suspected of organising dog fighting and treadmills for the animals were found when his home was raided.

During his trial, it was heard that Ashe had been in significant contact with two Englishmen prior to their arrival in Ireland. They were observed by Gardaí leaving their hotel and getting into Ashe’s taxi carrying a black holdall. 

Douglas married his Chinese wife 13 years ago and the pair live in Cabra with their children, but run a city centre shop near Oliver Bond flats.

It is understood that since his release from prison Gardaí had been keeping an eye on the shop and Douglas’s movements, but he was not the subject of any known death threat.

Douglas was targeted 100 yards from his home as he walked his dog. He was shot in the chest after a car pulled up beside him and a gunman opened fire.

Yumei said she was standing by Douglas despite his previous involvement in crime, which includes a conviction for armed robbery.

He has always claimed to have strong links with the IRA, but it is understood that he was at one point placed under protection from the group as he was accused of being a rat.

“Since he met me he changed. I want back to normal because this is wrong. You can ask any locals around here, they love him,” said Yumei.