Life of crime  | 

Gunman in Wayne Whelan murder attempt has violent criminal past

Ryan fired 11 shots at Whelan hitting him four times in the arms and chest.

Wayne Ryan

Alan Sherry

The gunman jailed this week for attempting to kill a west Dublin drug dealer is a violent criminal who started sniffing glue at the age of nine and had his first criminal conviction by the age of just 11.

Limerick criminal Wayne Ryan, who was the triggerman in the hit attempt on Wayne Whelan (42) at Griffeen Glen Park in Lucan on September 4, 2019, was one of four men convicted in relation to the murder plot at the Central Criminal Court this week.

Ryan, who spent time incarcerated at the notorious Ferryhouse Industrial School in the 1990s, had a criminal career that progressed from joyriding and burglaries to drug dealing and armed robberies before he tried to carry out murder.

Whelan survived the hit and posed smiling in a pic from his hospital bed but was shot dead two months later.

Ryan, with an address at Lanna Aoibhann, St Michael's Road in Longford, is originally from Limerick but has lived in various parts of Ireland after different prison stints over the years as the nature of his offences grew more serious.

While no mastermind criminal he has a casual attitude to causing serious harm to others which made him dangerous.

He started sniffing glue at the age of just nine before progressing onto stronger drugs. His first conviction came at the age of 11 and by his teens he found himself behind bars for joyriding.

He spent time in the notorious Ferryhouse Industrial School in Clonmel Tipperary as a teen.

He was a heroin addict by his late teens and had multiple brushes with the law.

Wayne Whelan had survived a previous murder attempt

In 2002 he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years behind bars after carrying out a string of robberies on pharmacies in Limerick during which he terrorised female staff members.

The robberies, which took place in 2000 and 2001, netted Ryan thousands which he spent on drugs.

He claimed he was going straight after being jailed for the robberies but after serving his sentence he soon found himself in trouble again.

He was caught with €19,000 worth of heroin and cocaine in Limerick in 2005 and while out on bail for that was caught with €12,000 worth of heroin and a quantity of ammunition at his home the following year.

After more time behind bars he was back on the streets and moved Ballina, Co. Mayo but soon returned to his old ways.

In December 2015 he carried out a terrifying robbery at Regan’s Discount Store in the town.

Anne Regan was closing up the family shop when Ryan burst in threatening her and her daughter Ciara with a broken bottle and demanding money.

Ms Regan was pushed over, before being grabbed by the throat by the Ryan, who then demanded that she open the “f***ing till” and give him money.

She then cried out and her husband John who had been at the back of the shop rushed out and along with a member of the public gave chase to Ryan.

Speaking after the incident, Ms Regan said: “He had me by the throat. He was terrifying - roaring and shouting. I didn't even know my husband was in the back, I just cried out," she said.

The following day when Ryan was appearing in court in relation to the attempted robbery, he viciously headbutted a garda on the nose leaving him unable to work for three months. He was convicted of both the attempted robbery assault causing harm.

By that stage Ryan also had a string of convictions for offences including drugs and firearms offences, robbery, theft and burglary. He was also convicted of a robbery in Spain.

He was sentenced to 15 years behind bars at the Central Criminal Court this week where Mr Justice Michael White said he was "shocked by the callous indifference" shown by the gang involved in the plot.

Three other men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder the father-of-three at that location between May 15 and November 15 2019.

They can't be named for legal reasons.

Ryan’s lack of sophistication in covering his trail was evident during the attempted murder trial.

Mobile phone evidence from a fortnight before the shooting showed that Ryan had sent a text to his partner to say he’d “rather be home than doing homework on some boll*x”.

Like Ryan, Whelan started out as a joyrider in Dublin in the 1990s before progressing to more serious crime including drug dealing and was arrested over a €4m cocaine seizure in Maynooth, Co. Kildare in 2005.

On the day of the shooting Ryan was the passenger in a VW Caddy van which blocked Whelan’s path as he drove into his estate.

Ryan fired 11 shots at Whelan hitting him four times in the arms and chest.

The white Caddy was set alight a few minutes later and was examined by gardai. A badly fire-damaged handgun was recovered inside, along with the associated magazine and the remains of a silencer.

Another car was noticed on fire in Bray soon afterwards, with a third vehicle going up in flames in Kilcock that evening. Gardai saw a man move from the area of the 3rd burning car and jump into an Opel insignia, which they then followed and stopped shortly before Leixlip.

The four accused men were inside. A petrol can containing diesel oil was found in the boot, and all four were arrested on suspicion of arson.

Samples of firearms residue were found on Ryan’s clothing. Comparisons between this residue and the discharged cartridges found at the scene offered ‘extremely strong support’ for the view that Ryan had discharged the shots.

CCTV of the accused men’s movements was studied. This and other evidence showed that seven cars had been acquired in preparation for the shooting, six of which were registered in false names and addresses.

The court heard that Ryan had 46 previous convictions, including for unlawful possession of a firearm, assault causing harm, robbery, possession of an article with intent to cause injury and burglary.

Today's Headlines

More Courts

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos