herald

Monday 24 July 2017

'Bungling fool' in mob's prison racket forgot who he was visiting

Cornelius Price
Cornelius Price

Gardai are investigating a major smuggling operation at a west Dublin prison after a criminal described as a "bungling fool" tried to sneak drugs and a mobile phone into the facility.

A member of the Cornelius Price crime operation was detained when he went to Wheatfield Prison - but forgot who he was there to visit.

Sources say the 54-year-old, who is from England but living in Price's compound in Co Meath, was due to hand over the contraband to a jailed associate of the dangerous thug.

Price was jailed in February for three years after being convicted of reckless endangerment of a garda at Balbriggan Garda Station more than three years ago following a trial at Dublin Circuit Court.

His mob is suspected of involvement in three gangland murders.

Price's gang is suspected of using junior criminals on the outside to meet their associates in the jail, where drugs and phones are handed over.

However, on this occasion the spaced-out prison visitor, who some sources have described as a "slave to the gang", made a major mistake.

Ironically, the incident happened on the morning of Saturday, May 13 - the same day the Herald revealed that Price been caught with an illegal mobile phone only days earlier.

This is an offence he has not yet been disciplined for, but he could potentially face more jail time.

In the latest development, Price's associate arrived at the jail apparently "out of his head" on drugs.

Suspiciously

"He came into the jail as a visitor and was allowed in. However, he was acting suspiciously when he was in the visiting area and prison officers noticed this," a source said.

"He was asked who he was in to visit but he couldn't give a name to officers. It seems the bungling fool was completely off his nut. Prison staff decided to search him and the phone and tablets were found in his underwear."

Gardai were then called and the low-level criminal was arrested and taken to Ronanstown Garda Station, where he was questioned for a number of hours before being released without charge.

A file will now be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in a move that increases the pressure on the mob.

While not a suspect himself, Price's associates are the chief suspects in the murder of Benny Whitehouse, a 36-year-old who was shot dead in September 2014.

In May 2015, Price was arrested and later released without charge by gardai investigating the killing.

The gang is also in the frame for the suspected murders of Tallaght man Willie Maughan (34) and his partner Anna Varslavane (21), who were last seen near Price's house in the Gormanston area of Co Meath on April 14, 2015.

One theory being investigated is that the couple were murdered because they were trying to break their links with the gang.

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