Missing couple's hammer horror: Tragic pair said to have been beaten to death by ruthless drugs gang

William Maughan and his girlfriend Anna Varslavane.
William Maughan and his girlfriend Anna Varslavane.
Paul 'Ralph' Gallagher.
Paul 'Ralph' Gallagher.

A missing couple believed to have been murdered by a notorious criminal gang were beaten to death with hammers before their bodies were secretly dumped, according to sources.

The Co. Louth-based drugs gang are the prime suspects behind the disappearance of William Maughan and his girlfriend Anna Varslavane.

Now sources among the traveller community have revealed the details of the grisly death the couple suffered at the hands of the violent gangsters.

Willie Maughan (38), was first run over by a car before being killed along with his 21-year-old Latvian girlfriend, according to claims made by Sunday World underworld sources.

The gangsters went to great lengths to cover their tracks after the alleged killings, but have since been the target of a major garda operation.

The out-of-control mobsters are also behind the abduction and brutal torture of a man in Drogheda this week over a €130 drug debt. 

Cops were immediately alerted and began a search for the gang, deploying the Garda helicopter.

Distraught: Helen and Joseph.

The victim was taken to a wooded area in Co. Louth where he was slashed repeatedly with a knife before being dumped on the road from a moving car.

It is claimed that because of the heightened Garda activity in area, the gang members panicked – possibly saving the man from an even worse ordeal.

A leading member of the mob was also arrested on Tuesday by gardaí investigating the murder of Benny Whitehouse in Balbriggan last year.

Whitehouse had fallen foul of the gang leaders, who subjected him to a campaign of intimidation before finally shooting him dead on the street after he had just dropped his daughter to school.

The garda operation into the Whitehouse murder also uncovered a €40,000 stash of heroin hidden in a quarry, which had previously been searched in the hunt for Maughan and Varslavane.

A leading gangster arrested this week had already been remanded in prison on other charges before the courts. The man and his main associate are said to control a network of 200 drug dealers.

The mobsters, who are members of the travelling community, rose to power when they moved to take over the turf left by murdered drug dealer John Paul Joyce.

Joyce was found shot dead in a ditch near Dublin Airport in January 2010, two months after his release from prison.

“We are all heartbroken over what has happened to William and Anna and we are pleading with anyone with information to come forward"

This week, ahead of an appeal broadcast on RTE’s Crimecall , William Maughan’s father said the family accepted the couple were dead.

Joseph Maughan said, however, that they want to give the couple “a Christian burial together”.

The pair were last seen alive on Tuesday, April 14, in the Gormanstown area of Co. Meath.

“We are all heartbroken over what has happened to William and Anna and we are pleading with anyone with information to come forward,” he said.

William had been a plumber by trade but stopped working when he developed a drug habit. However, he had told his parents that he wanted a new start.

The Sunday World has revealed how the gangsters are now suspects in four murders. As well as the suspected murders of the couple and Benny Whitehouse, the gang also had an involvement in the killing of Paul ‘Ralph’ Gallagher, according to sources.

He was blasted three times in the chest and left for dead in July last year.