Safety fears | 

Man who helped crime gang murder Keane Mulready Woods (17) fled Co Louth over threats

He relocated to Lower Sherrard Street in Dublin's north-inner city where he lived while on bail awaiting trial for murder.

Keane Mulready Woods and inset, Gerard Cruise

Gardai pictured at the site on wasteland in Drogheda where the torso of Keane Mulready Woods was discovered

Keane Mulready-Woods© PA

Robin SchillerSunday World

A MAN who helped a crime gang carry out the murder of teenager Keane Mulready Woods had to flee Drogheda after coming under severe threat.

It can be revealed that Gerard Cruise escaped to Dublin for his own safety after being targeted because of his involvement in the youth's murder.

In January 2021 a crowd of around 40 people, some of whom were friends of the victim, gathered outside Cruise's home with gardaí having serious concerns at the time that it would be burned down and the occupants attacked.

As more and more people arrived at the scene, some of the crowd shouted abuse at Gerard Cruise and gardaí who moved to disperse them.

The 49-year-old was unharmed but left Drogheda after being warned of continued threats to his safety.

He relocated to Lower Sherrard Street in Dublin's north-inner city where he lived while on bail awaiting trial for murder.

Bizarrely, he was also pictured taking part in a clean-up day organised by members of the local community last August, and posed for pictures with other local residents.

Keane Mulready-Woods© PA

It's understood the garda investigation uncovered that he was involved in bringing Keane Mulready Woods to the murder scene in Rathmullen Park on the day of the murder after the teen arrived in the area by taxi.

On Friday he became the second man to plead guilty to helping a criminal gang carry out the murder of the teenager in Drogheda three years ago.

The 17-year-old victim was last seen alive on January 12, 2020, and his dismembered body parts were spread across different parts of Dublin over the following days.

His murder was linked to a violent feud between two crime groups in the Louth town which claimed four lives and saw around 100 violent incidents including shootings, assaults and fire bombings

Cruise was originally charged with the teen's murder and was due to stand trial this month but on Friday was arraigned on the lesser charge.

It stated that between January 11 and 13, 2020, both dates inclusive, he facilitated a criminal organisation in the commission of a serious offence at 31 Rathmullen Park in Drogheda, namely the murder of Keane Mulready Woods.

Gardai pictured at the site on wasteland in Drogheda where the torso of Keane Mulready Woods was discovered

The offence is contrary to Section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 and carries a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment.

Gerard Cruise, wearing a wine jumper and navy jeans, stood up and replied “guilty” when the charge was read out to him by the registrar.

He had been on bail ahead of his murder trial but following his guilty plea was remanded in custody by Mr Justice Tony Hunt.

Cruise will appear before the non-jury court again on January 23 for sentencing with his co-defendant.

The court was told the other existing charges will be "dealt with" on that date.

Paul Crosby (27), of Rathmullen Park in Drogheda, last month also pleaded guilty to facilitating the murder of Keane Mulready Woods.

Crosby is a significant crime figure with over 40 previous convictions and was centrally involved in the feuding in the Louth town.

He is currently serving a three-year jail term over a “mysterious” arson incident for which he was arrested while under surveillance by heavily armed gardaí investigating the feud.

Crosby is considered a key associate of the crime gang led by two brothers that were feuding with the Maguire organised crime group in Drogheda.

Gardaí believe that Dublin criminal Robbie Lawlor carried out the teen’s savage killing but he was shot dead in Belfast in April 2020 before he could be arrested in relation to the investigation.

Another man, Gerard ‘Ged’ McKenna (52), was imprisoned last year after admitting to cleaning up the crime scene at his home after the murder.

The father-of-eight, also from Rathmullen Park, was jailed for four years for impeding the apprehension of the persons involved by disposing of material evidence.

During that sentencing hearing harrowing details were given of the scene where the teen was murdered.

The court heard that a blood-stained ballistic vest belonging to Keane Mulready Woods was found in a nearby burn site along with rubber gloves, a Swiss Army knife, and a part of a sofa.

A car parked in a laneway at the back of McKenna’s house contained a blood-stained axe and a bone fragment. The keys to that car, a red Toyota Corolla, were also found in McKenna's house.

The Central Criminal Court heard he had been directed to clean up the house by a now deceased criminal of "very significant notoriety" linked to several murders including that of a "very close friend". It's understood this was in reference to Robbie Lawlor.

When gardaí searched the property, it was covered in the teen's blood splatter and botched efforts had been made to clear evidence from the crime scene.

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