Alan Toal was a much respected barrister who was a popular figure among the legal community.
Former garda-turned-lawyer Alan Toal’s body was discovered in his home in Co. Wicklow late on Thursday night, where he had been living in fear and was under police protection.
His death is not being treated as suspicious and the state pathologist will now look to determine if he suffered from heart failure.
However, a source has told the Sunday World that Mr Toal’s life had spiralled out of control since being a victim of an horrific assault by Sligo gangster Irwin earlier this year.
Mr Toal was a much respected barrister who was a popular figure among the legal community.
He is believed to have been taking heavy prescription medication in a bid to cope with the stress of the serious threats that were being made against his life.
Mr Toal had been served with a Garda Information Message (GIM) warning that there was a credible threat against his life.
Convicted cocaine dealer Irwin had head-butted and punched Mr Toal in a Midlands hotel in August after demanding cash – a six-figure sum – the mobster claimed he was owed.
Mr Toal had a consultation with clients at the hotel on the morning of August 18 and afterwards went to the restaurant on the premises, at which point it is alleged that he was attacked.
After the attack, Irwin stole the lawyer’s Porsche from outside the hotel and made his getaway at speed.
The 60-year-old lawyer had claimed he was subsequently threatened by ‘heavies’ linked to Dublin crime gangs, who were demanding he withdrew his statement against Irwin.
A senior member of slain crime figure Eamon ‘The Don’ Dunne’s gang, who Mr Toal had previously represented, is believed to have become involved and offered to mediate in the row.
But this convicted armed robber turned on Mr Toal during the mediation and began issuing his own threats.
Mr Toal was said to have become increasingly fearful and had contacted Gardaí looking for a bulletproof vest.
A source has claimed that after his request was refused, the lawyer had contacted a number of criminal figures looking to source a vest.
Mr Toal had recently called into his local Garda station to report escalating threats that he said he was receiving from gangland figures.
Earlier this month, gardaí from the local Armed Response Unit were called to the barrister’s Co. Wicklow home and seized a number of legally held firearms.
It is believed Mr Toal had previously become extremely emotional and had threatened to “shoot” Irwin if he appeared at his door.
In August, Patrick Irwin had threatened to kill Mr Toal and burn down his home if he made a complaint to Gardaí.
Irwin was released from prison in 2018 after serving 10 years for drug dealing and assaulting a member of An Garda Síochána.
He was previously represented by Mr Toal, who has acted for defendants in serious crime and gangland cases during his 30-year career.
The barrister also represented Irwin’s former girlfriend, Deirdre Moran (36), who served three years for transporting a gun for the criminal.
“I was viciously confronted and assaulted by a notorious criminal alleging that I had been avoiding him over the past several years, amongst other matters, none of which were true, rather delusional,” he said in a statement to the Irish Independent.
“I sat, stared and smiled at this person as he assaulted me and assured me that he would kill me and burn my house in the event that I made a complaint of his behaviour to Gardaí. These were not vacuous threats.”
The barrister said that after his assailant left, he discovered his car, which had his wig, gown and briefcase in the boot, had been stolen.
“Notwithstanding the threat to kill, I immediately contacted the Gardaí in Tullamore, whose detectives arrived in minutes.”
Mr Toal said he provided them with an eight-page statement about what had transpired.
Irwin is believed to have fled Ireland following the assault and had spent time in Spain and in the UK.
The feared criminal had been released from Mountjoy Prison in 2018 after serving consecutive seven- and three-year jail sentences for drug dealing and assaulting a garda.
Irwin’s gang were the main players in the north-west when he went into prison, but by the time of his release another Sligo gang had also become significant rivals on the drug scene in the town.
That mob is led by a criminal who cannot currently be named as he is before the courts on organised crime offences.
The rival gang were linked to the involvement in the murder of notorious Dublin hitman Robbie Lawlor, who was shot dead in Belfast in 2020.
Irwin has been involved in numerous feuds over the years.
Associates of Irwin were arrested in relation to the murder of Hughie McGinley, who was shot dead by a gunman in Sligo in 2005. No one was ever charged in relation to the killing.
Irwin was issued with a GIM form to warn him of a credible threat to his life after his release from prison and he survived an assassination attempt when he visited relatives in Sligo after his brother Tommy’s death in 2019.
Tommy, who was also involved in the drug trade and had addiction issues, died in non-suspicious circumstances after a cocaine binge.
A former associate is believed to have been behind the gun attack when Patrick visited the area
Irwin escaped unscathed from that hit attempt and continued his involvement in crime.
His gang were believed to have been behind an attempt to flood Castlerea Prison with large consignment of drugs during lockdown in 2020, but the plot was foiled by prison authorities when they found the drugs concealed in mop heads in the laundry.
Irwin has also been targeted by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) over the years and in 2012 they seized his home in Dromahair, Co. Leitrim.
It was estimated by CAB that the house cost €400,000 when it was built.
One of Irwin’s key lieutenants was targeted in CAB raids last year, with more than €200,000 worth of cash and vehicles seized or frozen in accounts.
The gang also have links to Limerick, Northern Ireland and criminals in the east of the country.
Irwin has spent significant time in Meath and Dublin since his release from prison.