NewsCrime Desk

Scourge of rural Ireland laid to rest after 50-year criminal career

'Pale Miley' Connors
'Pale Miley' Connors

GRANDFATHER of crime ‘Pale Miley’ Connors was laid to rest beneath a lavish €40k headstone on Thursday, after a criminal career spanning seven decades.

His life of crime saw him be­come the scourge of household­ers in rural Ireland and clock up an incredible 94 convictions between 1959 and 2012.

The prolific burglar continued lawbreaking into his 74th year, when he admitted driving a get­away car used in two robberies.

The father of slain gang boss ‘Fat’ Andy Connors, Pale Miley (76), was still living under the threat of a suspended three-year sentence from that offence when he passed away from dementia-related com­plications earlier this week.

More than 350 members of the extended clan – including Fat Andy’s widow Ann, who is facing a Criminal Asset Bureau demand for over €500,000 – descended on Gorey, north Wexford, to bid the revered family ‘Don’ a final farewell.

Arriving at the send-off in a white €140,000 top-of-the-range U.K. registered Range Rover, Ann was surrounded by relatives offering their condolences.

Pale Miley’s remains arrived at the church in a coffin draped by a tricolour in the back of glass, horse-drawn carriage.

A billboard-sized floral tribute was carried aloft a second carriage containing the words ‘To the Best Old Da in the World’.

Following a 45-minute service in a packed St Michael’s, traffic was brought to a standstill in the town as the funeral cortege wound its way to the cemetery.

There he was laid to rest beside his beloved wife Anne, who passed away earlier this year, and his son Pat, who died in 1998 aged 36.

The grave – which features a headstone depicting a carving of the Last Supper and which had been covered with concrete – was opened in advance of Thursday’s ceremony.

Pale Miley’s final resting place lies just metres from that of his son, the notorious crime figure Fat Andy.

He was blasted to death outside the home he shared with wife Ann in August 2015.

The Dublin gang boss, who was buried in a gold plated coffin, has a €50,000, six-foot-high marble Jesus Christ headstone on top of his grave.

Curious onlookers to Thursday’s funeral would have been unaware from the low-key Garda presence that one of the country’s most prolific burglars was being laid to rest by his family.

In May 2012 we revealed how Michael Myles Connors, nicknamed ‘Pale Miley’, was the leader of a ruthless gang of burglars responsible for break-ins across rural Ireland.

The pensioner appeared in court in February 2014, where he claimed to be chronically ill and in the early stages of dementia. He also required an oxygen tank because of difficulties with his breathing.

However, what the court didn’t hear was that the Connors clan was the main target for a massive Garda operation, codenamed Fiacla, that had seen dozens of charges proffered against Pale Miley and his family members.

Gardaí were so concerned about the sheer scale of Pale Miley’s operation that they investigated him under anti-gangland laws, with a view to bringing charges before a non-jury court.

Cops regarded the Connors family as being at the top of the list of 300 suspects who target pensioners in remote parts of the country, often using children as young as 10 to carry out burglaries.

The mob is based in Tallaght in south-west Dublin, but is nomadic and often moves from county to county scoping out houses.

Pale Miley’s gang has been linked with the robbery of high-powered cars, burglaries and ‘tie-up jobs’ across the country, where helpless elderly folk are held hostage while their properties are ransacked.

The gang’s modus operandi was to steal a powerful car in Dublin and drive to a country location and carry out multiple burglaries in one day, hiding the loot and then driving home in their own vehicles to avoid detection.

The gang was so skilled that there was rarely any evidence to physically tie them to crimes.

However, shortly after our exposé in May 2012, five members of the gang were arrested in the middle of a robbery in Carlow.

Four of the crew were teenagers – aged just 15 and 16 – but who had been involved in crime for so many years that they are already hardened criminals.

All five were charged and quizzed about dozens of other similar crimes in Carlow and Kilkenny

Pale Miley’s luck in evading justice also ran out in May 13, 2012, when he was nabbed during a burglary in Kilberry, Navan, Co. Meath.

There had been a spate of burglaries in the area that day.

He was driving a car that was stopped by gardaí with two teenage passengers.

During the search of the vehicle, gardaí found two stolen laptops and a host of video games.

Connors initially denied carrying out the burglary and said he was merely driving the getaway vehicle.

Later in court he pleaded guilty to burglary, where the jury heard he had 94 previous convictions dating from 1959 to 2012.

Indeed, when he was arrested behind the wheel he was already serving a 25-year driving ban that was imposed in 2011.

Connors’ defence counsel asked Judge Michael O’Shea to give him one final chance so that he could live out his life in peace.

However, the judge said that his age could not be used as a shield.

He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, but it was suspended for three years.

At the time of his death this week, Pale Miley was still living under threat of a jail sentence should he have reoffended.