NewsCrime Desk

Young man killed as armed robbers fled

Dylan Byrne
Dylan Byrne

A CRIMINAL who is a major player in the country's biggest car theft operation was arrested after a horror fatal car smash following an attempted armed robbery of a 74-year-old man.

The crash claimed the life of a 20-year-old Dublin man who was a rear-seat passenger when the car left the road and stuck a ditch near Boyle, Co Roscommon.

Dylan Byrne, who is from Crumlin and is not known to gardai for involvement in crime, was taken to Sligo University Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

The Herald can reveal that the two other occupants of the vehicle, aged 31 and 37, were arrested at the same hospital after receiving treatment for minor injuries.

They were held in relation to a terrifying crime which had happened in nearby Sligo town around half an hour before the fatal car accident

The 31-year-old suspect from Crumlin who was arrested is a major target for the garda's Stolen Motor Vehicle Unit and the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau. He is being investigated in relation to a spate of car thefts and burglaries.

He is considered the "right-hand man" of a Crumlin-based gangster who is one of the capital's most active criminals.

The crash occurred after a garda alert had been issued about a red Renault Megane involved in the attempted robbery in Sligo. Officers suspect that the same car was involved in the fatal smash in Co Rosommon.

Despite the alert, the car was not being pursued by gardai at the time of the crash.

Earlier that evening, two criminals approached the owner of a Chinese takeaway at his home in Sligo town and threatened him with knives.

The criminals managed to steal house keys from the 74-year-old Chinese man and attempted to break into his home.

The man escaped from the gangsters, but they were not able to gain entry to his house as they dropped the keys which they had stolen. No money was taken. They then fled the scene.

Half an hour later, their car was involved in a fatal road collision which claimed the life of Dylan Byrne. The crash occurred near Boyle in Roscommon.

Detectives investigating the robbery believe that the businessman may have been betrayed by someone who had knowledge that he kept large sums of money at his home, and that this information was passed on to local criminals. These in turn are suspected of informing the Dublin criminals.

The two men arrested in the hospital - who were the front seat passengers in the same car as Dylan Byrne - are well-known to gardai for involvement in crime.

They were questioned for a number of hours at Carrick-On-Shannon Garda Station, in Co Leitrim, before being released without charge.

A file on the case will now be prepared for the DPP.

Yesterday, friends of Dylan Byrne posted a number of tributes on Facebook to the young man.

"How can you go from being one of your happiest points to being absolutely heartbroken, can't even describe how I feel, brings tears looking at this picture. RIP brother you'll never be forgotten love ye, sleep tight."

Another friend said: "Why is God so cruel, he's taking away everyone. RIP Dylan Byrne. Can't believe it."

"My heart is absolutely broken," another wrote.

The crash is the second in recent weeks in which the car involved was also suspected of being involved in a robbery.

On July 27, two young men were killed in a car crash in Donegal when the car they were driving on the wrong side of the road collided with a van.

Garda sources said a cash register was found in the rear seat of that car and the pair were suspected of being behind the robbery of a pub minutes before the accident.

Barney McGinley (28), and Dermot Boyle (19) died at the scene of the accident on the Letterkenny to Derry dual carriageway. The targeting of the local businessman is similar to previous unrelated crimes in the recent past.

Sources say that there have been a number of instances of owners of Chinese restaurants being targeted by burglars, including a €100,000 robbery in Mulhuddart, west Dublin in 2014. Gardai say there is nothing to link this week's attempted robbery to these other crimes.