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Dad of man murdered with pregnant partner appeals for information about deaths

Joe Maughan said ‘God is punishing Maguire and Price’

Ana Varslavane and Willie Maughan disappeared

Owen Maguire

Cornelius Price

Willie Maughan’s father Joe has appealed for information

Eamon DillonSunday World

THE father of murder victim Willie Maughan and his pregnant partner Ana Varslavane said “God is punishing” the leaders of the crime gang suspected of the double killing.

Owen Maguire, now paralysed from the chest down, and Cornelius Price, who has been seriously ill in hospital for several months, were named in a recent High Court affidavit as leaders of the Price-Maguire gang.

As pressure mounts with further revelations from the Criminal Assets Bureau case against Owen and his enforcer brother Brendan, Joe Maughan hopes someone will break their silence.

The couple were last seen alive in April 2015 at a compound in Gormanstown, Co Meath owned by Cornelius Price.

“Maguire is nobody now. He is sitting in his house, like a jail, nobody wants them. God is punishing him and is punishing Price as well,” said Joe.

Owen Maguire

“Please God someone might say something. What is going on with the other gangs now, someone might do the same to the Price gang.

“Somebody might say ‘I’ve had enough I can’t hide it any more, I have to tell the truth’.”

“Some day, we will get the true story.”

Joe Maughan said he is happy the spotlight is still on the gang. Meanwhile his own family remain “strong” as they continue to seek justice.

He believes several people have direct knowledge of what happened to the couple, who were due to move out of a mobile home at Price’s compound, and back to Tallaght.

So far five people have been arrested and questioned over the couple’s murder, but no-one has yet been charged.

Cornelius Price

These include people who it is suspected were at the scene when the couple were killed and their remains later disposed of.

A senior investigating garda said it was his belief Willie Maughan (34) and his partner Ana Varslavane were murdered by the gang “in order to protect their drug distribution business.”

Willie Maughan’s father Joe has appealed for information

In a High Court case by CAB targeting Owen and Brendan Maguire, the officer’s affidavit is part of the case to prove their involvement in criminality.

It also charts the gang’s early days and how Owen Maguire took advantage of the murders of Paul Reay in Drogheda and Roy Coddington in Meath in 2006 and 2007.

The dead men had both been the target of garda investigations and “were major players in the distribution of drugs in the Drogheda area.”

While the officer said he did not believe Owen Maguire was involved in the murders, he believes he took over their share of the illegal drugs market.

As a result, he was put in contact with Cornelius Price “and they became close criminal associates”.

During 2012 they became involved in a feud with another group in the Balbriggan area and were also involved in attacks on people who owed drug debts.

This even included people to whom they were related in a ruthless campaign of violence and intimidation to maintain control of the drugs business in the region.

In September 2014 Benny Whitehouse was shot dead as he dropped his child at school in Balbriggan while his partner, who was also in the car, was wounded in the leg.

Price was arrested over this killing in May the following year but has not been charged in relation to it.

When Owen Maguire was shot six times in July 2018, it sparked the Drogheda feud that has resulted in a number of deaths and dozens of tit-for-tat attacks in the town.

Maguire remains reliant on a wheelchair following the shooting while his brother Brendan was also shot and wounded in February 2019.

Brendan now lives in Manchester while one garda described his home at Drogheda as empty and unfurnished when trying to serve legal papers on him earlier this year.

Officers were also told to mind their own business and subjected to verbal abuse when attempting to serve papers on Owen Maguire at his St Anthony’s Park home in Drogheda.

Meanwhile, Cornelius Price has been left in a coma and uncommunicative in hospital for several months.

This week he had been due to go on trial in the UK over a kidnapping plot but was deemed too ill to stand trial.

He previously served three years in prison in Dublin for trying to run over a garda and moved the UK after being released in May 2019.

At the centre of the current CAB case is €304,000 in cash, two properties, a Rolex watch, a Mercedes car and a Ford Transit van.

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