'Horrendous' | 

Top cops says murdered teen Keane Mulready-Woods ‘was just a child trying to make his way in life’

The chief suspect for the murder was gangland criminal Robbie Lawlor, who was shot dead in Belfast just over three months later, in April 2020.

Keane Mulready-Woods (17) was killed in January 2020. Yesterday, two men were jailed for facilitating his murder© PA

Detective Inspector Aidan McCabe

Human remains found in Dublin...Undated handout photo issued by Garda of Keane Mulready-Woods, 17 from Drogheda, whose remains were found in Dublin. Detectives launched an investigation after human body parts were found in a sports bag in Coolook, north Dublin on Monday. PA Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 15, 2020. On Wednesday, partial body remains were discovered in the burnt-out car in Trinity Terrace in Drumcondra. Later a house in Drogheda was sealed off as part of the investigation. The property in Rathmullen Park has been declared a crime scene and is being forensically examined. See PA story POLICE Body. Photo credit should read: Garda/PA Wire

Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Owen Maguire

Gangland criminal Robbie Lawlor died in April 2020

Ken FoyIndependent.ie

The retired senior garda who led the investigation into the murder of Keane Mulready-Woods has described the troubled teenager as “just a child who was trying to make his way in life”.

Former chief superintendent Christy Mangan spoke to the Irish Independent ahead of the sentencing hearing of the two criminals who admitted driving the 17-year-old to the house in Drogheda, Co Louth, where he was killed and dismembered.

“It has to be remembered that Keane was only a child when this happened and it was absolutely horrendous for his family,” Mr Mangan said.

They tried to cover up what they did

The chief suspect for the murder was gangland criminal Robbie Lawlor, who was shot dead in Belfast just over three months later, in April 2020.

Lawlor had been released from jail a couple of weeks before the horrific killing.

As a senior officer, was Mr Mangan concerned about the presence of Lawlor in Drogheda and his alignment with one of the feuding gangs before the murder?

“The presence of Robbie Lawlor added fuel to the fire, there can be no doubt about that,” he said.

Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan. Photo: Gerry Mooney

“He was a very difficult character and he was definitely there to inflame what was a very tense situation anyway.”

He described the investigation into the teenager’s murder as “very difficult, but the whole situation was very difficult”.

“They tried to cover up what they did, but because of the initial work carried out by the investigating detectives we had a good picture of who was involved and exactly what happened,” he said.

Paying tribute to the work of Detective Inspector Aidan McCabe and his team, Mr Mangan said: “Even though great progress was made at the start, it was a slow process because the evidence needed to be gathered for the prosecution to present in court.”

Reflecting on the Drogheda feud that has claimed four lives and started in July 2018 when mob boss Owen Maguire was left paralysed after being shot by Lawlor, Mr Mangan said a lack of garda resources was a huge issue before Keane’s murder over 18 months later.

Gangland criminal Robbie Lawlor died in April 2020

“From the summer of 2018 onwards, every few days there were petrol bomb attacks, there were multiple violent incidents and we needed a huge injection of resources,” he said.

“There was a huge amount of intimidation and drug-dealing. At one stage, 34 houses had been targeted with pipe bombs and petrol bombs.”

The feud was completely out of control by the time Keane was killed on January 12, 2020: he was the third murder victim of the gang warfare, and Mr Mangan’s officers were fighting an uphill battle due to the lack of resources.

But the appalling nature of the teenager’s murder, which made international headlines, finally led to the Government taking action and gardaí being given the backing they so desperately needed.

“We got that injection of resources very shortly after the Taoiseach came to town in the aftermath of Keane’s murder – after that, resources were never an issue for policing in the town,” Mr Mangan said.

Detective Inspector Aidan McCabe

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was one of a number of senior politicians who attended a rally against gang violence in Drogheda a fortnight after Keane was killed.

Nearly 6,000 people attended the event, which Mr Mangan described as a “turning point”.

“The decent people of the town helped us – we needed the people of Drogheda to get on board, and they did,” he said.

“From a policing point of view it was – and still is – a great help.”

There is no room for complacency

Even though Mr Mangan had set up Operation Stratus to tackle the gangs in 2018, immediately identifying “all the warring parties”, it was the greater resources that became available to gardaí in Co Louth in the aftermath of Keane’s murder that helped the special policing plan become a success.

More than three years later, around 500 people have been charged and illegal drugs worth €3.8m have been seized as part of Stratus.

There have been minimal feud-related incidents in Drogheda over the past year, and the situation has significantly improved since Keane was murdered.

Owen Maguire

Does Mr Mangan think the feud is over?

“I cannot say that – some issues will always need to be monitored, but the majority of the people who were involved in the feud are not there any more,” he said.

The decent people of the town helped us

“Some have left the country, others are dead, a number are in jail and a lot of people have been arrested and some of these are before the courts.

“It’s a lot calmer situation now, but anyone who knows policing knows that there is no room for complacency.”

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