Robert O’Connor (34), who died from his catastrophic head injuries in the early hours of yesterday morning in the Mater Hospital after being attacked last Friday, had been moved to a new wing for his own protection.
This decision was made following the kettle attack less than 48 hours earlier.
Jail sources have revealed that a number of prisoners have been disciplined for the earlier attack and gardaí are investigating if the assault on the prison’s A-Wing is linked to O’Connor’s murder on the C2 landing.
A prominent line in the inquiry is whether O’Connor was targeted in a revenge attack after he ordered that another inmate be slashed in revenge for an alleged assault on one of the close associates of the murder victim on the outside.
Senior sources said that this is one of just a number of motive theories being examined.
The Irish Independentcan reveal that there isCCTV evidence of O’Connor seen going into his cell with another inmate shortly before 6pm last Friday.
Shortly after this, two other prisoners followed them into the cell where the savage assault took place.
It is not known if they took part in the assault or were merely “keeping sketch”.
A major line of enquiry is that O’Connor was struck by an implement described as a “blunt object” as soon as he entered his cell and then kicked and beaten before prison officers arrived at the scene just seconds later.
“A lot of work needs to be done on this investigation but it may well be the case that only one individual is responsible for the fatal injuries that the victim suffered,” a senior source said.
Despite this, the three notorious criminals who were apprehended by prison officers in O’Connor’s cell have been put in an isolation regime and are expected to be moved to other jails before being questioned by gardaí.
“The investigation team is in no rush in this matter because none of those involved in this are going anywhere soon, apart from the prison system... and gardaí have a lot of time to build up the evidence of what actually happened,” a senior source said.
Of the three inmates identified as being in the cell, one is linked to the Kinahan cartel while another is serving a lengthy sentence for an aggravated burglary.
All are from the capital’s north side and are considered extremely violent criminals.
The Kinahan associate from the north inner city is serving a sentence in connection with an attempted murder of a Hutch associate. He was also arrested in connection with a gangland murder last year.
The inmate who is serving a lengthy sentence for a notorious burglary that happened in Munster is originally from the Coolock area and considered extremely violent.
A third suspect who is of major interest in the inquiry is a 38-year-old crack cocaine addict from the capital’s north inner city and is serving a sentence for a string of violent robberies in Dublin over a three-month period.
“Was this personal or were these individuals paid to do it or did it happen because of a debt? That is what the garda investigation will now establish,” a senior source said last night.
“There has been a lot of theories in this case but the most likely scenario is that he was attacked because of the earlier jail attack that he organised in which an inmate was cut in the face but an open mind needs to be kept.”
Last Friday O’Connor was rushed to the Mater Hospital where he was kept alive on a ventilator after being diagnosed with a severe brain injury which had been originally expected to be turned off on Monday. His life support was switched off in the early hours of yesterday morning but gardaí have been treating the case as a murder investigation since Friday because of the injuries that the victim received.
O’Connor had been on remand in custody in Cloverhill Prison since last October but was moved to Mountjoy in February after picking up a six-month sentence for a separate offence. Last Wednesday, he pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of a semi-automatic pistol in Finglas on October 13, 2021.
O’Connor had been followed by gardaí after he and another man had abandoned a vehicle on the N2 heading towards Finglas. They were chased down the North Road in Finglas and were seen removing their tops before gardaí managed to stop them.
He was arrested and claimed he had the gun because he was “in fear of my life”. His previous convictions included drugs offences, stealing cars, criminal damage, theft and road traffic offences.