funeral fears | 

Drogheda mob boss Cornelius Price’s criminal legacy is one of chaos and agony

Known as Naily Boy, his sudden admission to hospital in 2021 sparked rumours of him having been deliberately poisoned such was the queue of enemies he built up thanks to his taste for gratuitous violence.

Cornelius Price

Eamon DillonSunday World

The death of psycho gang boss Cornelius Price in a Welsh hospital won’t bring an end to the legacy of chaos and anguish he caused in a violent criminal career.

Even his funeral, expected to take place in Ireland according to Sunday World sources, is likely to cause a security headache for gardaí.

Known as Naily Boy, his sudden admission to hospital in 2021 sparked rumours of him having been deliberately poisoned such was the queue of enemies he built up thanks to his taste for gratuitous violence.

Even before his name seeped into the public domain, he was known for terrorising members of the Travelling community often over minor incidents, reacting with over-the-top attacks.

The murders of Paul Reay in Drogheda and Roy Coddington in Meath in 2006 and 2007 gave the Owen and Brendan Maguire the opportunity to fill the vacuum and they became close associates of Price.

Gang boss Cornelius Price, 40, originally from Gormanstown, Co Meath, Ireland

Still in their 20s, the leaders of the Price-Maguire organised crime gang became targets for gardaí although they shrugged off the attention, never showing any signs of fear or respect for officers.

In December 2013, Price almost killed a garda officer as he chased another vehicle through the streets of Balbriggan, north County Dublin.

Around the same time he and Owen Maguire were alleged to have attacked two members of the Whitehouse family for which they were later charged but eventually acquitted.

Then in September 2014, Benny Whitehouse was gunned down as he dropped his child to school in Balbriggan while his partner suffered a gunshot wound to her leg.

No-one has ever been charged with the murder, but Price had always been the prime suspect.

Even worse was to follow when in April 2015, Willie Maughan and Ana Varsalane, who lived at Price’s compound in Gormanstown, Co Meath, disappeared without trace.

Ana Varslavane and Willie Maughan disappeared

Maughan’s father Joe immediately feared the couple and their unborn child had been murdered because they had planned to leave to start a new life.

Fearing that the couple would be able to implicate him in the Whitehouse killing, Price ordered their murders which is believed to have taken place at site.

He is known to have boasted that their bodies would never be found and laughed at gardaí who arrived to search the Gormanstown property.

Five people have since been arrested and questioned over the double murder although charges have yet to follow.

During one of those searches in 2021, officers found a 9mm Makarov gun for which Stephen 'Gibby' Gibbons, who had been married to Price's aunt, was jailed.

Price’s death gives some hope for the Maughan family that someone will break their silence and come forward about the truth of what happened.

Their outspoken campaigning also made the family a target with the grave of Willie’s brother in Tallaght being desecrated and dug up in a bid to terrorise the family.

Until his conviction in February 2017 for driving at the garda back in 2013, Price’s name had not been in the public domain.

A jury at that trial heard garda evidence how both vehicles were “swerving back and forth” as an officer ordered Price’s van to stop.

But instead of slowing down, Price “continued to drive straight at him” forcing the officer to jump out of the way.

In his impact statement the officer said how his parents reacted when he told them of the incident:

“My mother started crying and my father said, ‘I know you love being a guard, but is it worth it if you’re lying in a coffin six feet under?”

By now the Drogheda feud involving his Maguire brother partners was in full flow and Price spent much of time behinds bars on protection.

While there were threats against him, he was also too dangerous to be allowed to mix with ordinary prisoners.

He was released from Wheatfield Prison in May 2019, but during the time he spent inside both Maguire brothers had been shot and injured with Owen being left paralysed.

The gang was also being targeted by the Criminal Assets Bureau as the murderous violence of the Drogheda feud saw increased pressure on gangland activity in the region.

Despite this the feud attacks continued, and the Price-Maguire gang were blamed for the attempted shooting of Dublin gangster Robbie Lawlor’s brother-law Richie Carberry in March 2019.

Price left Ireland but appeared on social media celebrating when Dublin gangster Robbie Lawlor was murdered in Belfast in April 2020.

Lawlor is known to have been the gunman who shot Owen Maguire and was behind the gruesome murder and dismemberment of Keane Mulready Woods, whose father Barry, was named in the High Court as member of the Price-Maguire gang.

The gang are the suspects for the murder of Keith Brannigan, not believed to have been involved in crime, who was shot dead at Aishling Caravan Park, Clogherhead in August that year.

The involvement of the Dundon-McCarthy gang in that murder and Ger Dundons conviction of a kidnap and extortion plot show price had forged links with the Limerick gang.

Price had been due to face trial for the same plot in the UK was struck down limbic encephalitis leaving him in a coma and seriously ill until his death yesterday.

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