The secret life of Baiba Saulite's Lebanese husband
Lebanese criminal Hassan Hassan, the man Gardaí now hope to finally charge with the callous 2006 murder of his wife Baiba Saulite, has remarried and is living a new life in the U.K. with his slain partner’s boys.
Baiba Saulite holding pictures of her children
The Sunday World this week tracked Hassan to his new home in a midlands town in the U.K., where the convicted car thief operates a ‘dismantler’s yard’, shipping vehicles to Syria.
We watched on Thursday morning as Hassan opened up the yard with Baiba’s beloved children, before later ringing him to establish if he knew Gardaí had reopened the investigation into his wife’s death.
“Hassan, I’m a journalist from Ireland? Do you know the Gardaí have reopened the investigation into Baiba’s murder.”
“Are you happy about this? Do you think this will clear your name?”
Hassan hung up and refused to answer when we called back.
His reluctance to speak with us about the probe comes as cops put the final touches on a file recommending that he, alongside Limerick gangsters John, Wayne and Dessie Dundon, be charged with conspiracy to murder Baiba.
Gardaí believe Hassan issued the order for Baiba to be killed while he was behind bars in Mountjoy Prison serving a four-year prison sentence for operating a stolen car racket.
He has always denied involvement in the murder.
“I am being blamed for my wife’s murder. I am being framed. I did not kill my wife,” he claimed on one occasion, as he was being led into court.
But officers believe he ordered a hit on his estranged wife and her solicitor John Hennessy after she successfully forced him to return her sons to her care, after he kidnapped them in 2004 and sent them to live with his mother in Lebanon.
Once the contract had been taken out, senior members of the Dundon crime syndicate in turn farmed it out to the gang led by slain gangsters Marlo Hyland and Eamonn Dunne.
At 9pm on November 19, 2006, the contract was fulfilled and 28-year-old Baiba was shot three times by a lone gunman on the doorstep of her rented house in Swords, north Dublin.
A long-running investigation into the horrific killing of the innocent mum-of-two resulted in Gardaí recommending charges against senior members of the Dundon gang and Hassan in 2010.
The file carried a recommendation that Hassan be charged with conspiracy to commit murder, but the DPP refused to prosecute on evidential grounds.
A Sunday World investigation can today reveal how, after his release from Portlaoise Prison in March 2010 – where he was transferred following his wife’s murder – Hassan regained custody of Baiba’s children and moved them to Tartous, Syria, while he travelled back and forth to the U.K.
Just months after fleeing Ireland, Hassan became engaged to a woman from Tartous in January 2011. They later married and he had a third child with his new wife earlier this year.
Pictures obtained by the Sunday World show the family spent much of the last three years in Syria – with Baiba’s boys attending school in the city – before the family relocated to the U.K. earlier this year as civil war engulfed the country.
We can also reveal how in April of last year Hassan set up a car dismantling business in the U.K. midlands.
Our probe reveals how the company has been taking receipt of cars from the U.K. and Ireland and dismantling them, before sending parts and full vehicles on to a sister outlet in Tartous.
During our surveillance of Hassan this week he appeared to be leading the life of a hard-working family man.
He left his quiet residential home in a white van, with the boys in tow, shortly after 10am, before travelling to the breaker’s yard. Hassan now resides with his family in a quiet three-bedroom terraced home which sold for £97,500 (€136,000) in 2014.
But he is now firmly within the grasp of Gardaí, who will seek his extradition from the U.K. if the DPP recommends he be charged with conspiracy to murder.
It’s understood Gardaí are now being assisted in the probe into Baiba’s killing by a State witness who formerly helped jail the Dundons.
Wayne Dundon is currently serving life for the 2009 murder of businessman Roy Collins, his brother John is serving life for the murder of innocent rugby player Shane Geoghegan in 2008, while Dessie is serving life after his conviction for the murder of rival crime boss Kieran Keane and the attempted murder of Keane’s nephew Owen Treacy.
Two months ago all three Dundon brothers were arrested in their cells in Portlaoise and quizzed by Gardaí over their role in Baiba’s murder.
Gardaí have always worked on the theory that the McCarthy-Dundons passed on the contract to murder Baiba to the Dublin gang controlled by Martin ‘Marlo’ Hyland, who was executed less than a month after the assassination of the Latvian mum.
In turn, Hyland used some of the younger criminals in his organisation to carry out the murder.
One of the criminals Gardaí suspected of pulling the trigger was Craig White from north inner-city Dublin – a ruthless criminal who is serving a life sentence for the murder of Noel Roche (27) in 2005.
Eamonn ‘the Don’ Dunne was also suspected of being involved in the murder, as a car used in the killing was found in an apartment bock in Ballymun that he provided security for, but he was never arrested.
Solving the Baiba Saulite murder would bring to a close a nine-year-old investigation that has been mired in controversy since its early days.
It emerged that just days before her murder, as part of a victim impact statement for use in the child abduction case against Hasssan, she expressed to Gardaí fears for her life and suspicions of being under surveillance. Her murder was preceded by a series of attacks on her solicitor John Hennessy.
Yet while Gardaí provided some level of protection to Hennessy, no such support was afforded to the innocent mum who lived in prescient terror of her estranged husband’s lust for retribution.