Noel 'Kingsize' Duggan gunned down outside his house
A veteran criminal who was best friends with Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch has been shot dead in the latest murder linked to the capital's bloody gangland feud.
Noel 'Kingsize' Duggan (55) was shot a number of times while sitting in his car at his home in The Old Mill housing estate in Ratoath, Co Meath, at around 8pm last night.
Initial reports suggested that the gunman fired at least four shots and was then driven away in a getaway car on the Fairyhouse Road. Two cars were found burning a short time later on Glencairn Lane.
Paramedics and gardai rushed to the scene but were unable to save the grandfather's life.
Duggan is believed to be the fourth victim of the bitter gang war between the Hutch mob and the Kinahan cartel, and his murder will be seen as a major escalation of the feud.
Sources have revealed that 'Kingsize' Duggan had returned to Ireland in recent days after spending time in England.
It is understood he had feared for his life because he thought the cartel would target him, therefore opting to spend time abroad.
Last night, the body of Mr Duggan remained at the scene as gardai covered the car in which he was shot dead.
Upset relatives of the victim arrived at the scene.
Several units of the Garda Armed Response team were also called upon and cordoned off the area.
Duggan became a millionaire because of his massive involvement in cigarette smuggling. It was through this activity that he earned the nickname 'Mr Kingsize'.
In 2003, the Criminal Assets Bureau confiscated a five-storey apartment and retail block owned by him that was valued at €4m.
It is understood he became a primary target for the Kinahan cartel because of his long-standing business and personal relationship with their arch enemy, Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch.
He was in regular contact with Hutch and often travelled to The Monk's base in Lanzarote. It's understood Duggan remained heavily involved in the illegal cigarette trade. A source told the Herald that Duggan was a "soft target".
"The Kinahan cartel took out Gerry Hutch's brother Eddie last month as he was an easy target and now they have murdered his best friend, who was a real soft target," the source said.
Duggan was previously involved in a bitter dispute with exiled crimelord John Gilligan after the latter's release from jail in 2013 but that is not believed to be the reason for last night's murder. However, a source said they wouldn't put it past Gilligan "to take advantage of the current situation and tensions between both gangs".
If Duggan was murdered by members of the Kinahan cartel as feared, his death will be seen as a major escalation of the gang war that was sparked by the murder of the Monk's nephew, Gary Hutch (34), in Spain last year.
Kinahan gang member David Bryne from Crumlin was subsequently shot dead in the Regency Hotel attack and two associates were injured.
The hit team had planned to kill the leader of the gang, Daniel Kinahan, and a number of his top associates in the same incident but they managed to get away. Three days later, the Kinahans retaliated by murdering Gerry Hutch's older brother Eddie Hutch.
The two attacks saw gardai launch one of the biggest criminal investigations since the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin 20 years ago.
Heavily-armed garda teams were deployed on the streets to mount checkpoints in a bid to keep the feuding sides from claiming any further lives.
However, it was predicted that despite the police counter-offensive both sides would spill more blood.
Originally from Cabra, Duggan - who had convictions for handling stolen property - was a very close friend of veteran kidnapper and armed robber Mick Cunningham, who died in January of last year.
The 65-year-old died of a heart attack in his Ballyfermot home and Duggan was a prominent mourner at his funeral.
Ironically, Cunningham's brother - John 'The Colonel' Cunningham - is the right-hand man of cartel boss Christy Kinahan Snr, whose mob are the prime suspects for last night's savage shooting.
Local residents expressed shock at the brutal murder.
Fine Gael Councillor Gerry O'Connor said: "My thoughts are with the family of the poor, unfortunate person who has been shot dead.
"There is enough killing going on in the world without it happening on our own doorsteps. No one deserves to have their life ended like that.
"The people of Ratoath, Dunshaughlin and Ashbourne will be very saddened and shocked by this killing. There is no history of serious crime in this area and what has happened is totally out of the ordinary."