herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Drugs dispute linked to botched hit on 'Walrus'

GARDAI are investigating if a drugs dispute led to a double shooting incident where a hitman accidentally wounded himself with his shotgun before he opened fire on a drugs dealer.

Medics at two Dublin hospitals were carrying out surgery today on well-known criminal Charlie O'Neill (51) and his 31-year-old assailant following yesterday's gun attack in Glasnevin.

The gunman injured himself as he pulled a sawn-off shotgun from his tracksuit in the botched assassination attempt.

However, he still managed to open fire and wound O'Neill in the bizarre shooting in north Dublin.

Detectives have not yet had a chance to interview either of the wounded men.

The 31-year-old gunman – who previously served a jail sentence for being involved in the Love Ulster riot in 2006 – arrived at the scene in Glasnevin Avenue on a bike.

As O'Neill, known locally as 'The Walrus', approached on his bike at 8.15am, the gunman took the shotgun from his tracksuit.

However, it accidentally discharged and he shot himself in the thigh. Despite his injuries, he was able to open fire on O'Neill and struck him in the stomach before attempting to flee on foot down a laneway.

It is understood there were a number of people waiting at a bus stop nearby who may have witnessed the shocking scene.

The gunman collapsed a short distance away at Hillcrest Park. The gun used was also recovered at the scene.

Senior sources say that gardai are looking at two main lines of inquiry. "This could well be a drugs dispute, but gardai are also looking into the possibility that O'Neill may have been involved in a number of serious altercations over the past number of months.

"Both these men are expected to survive and the gunman is very likely to face charges – he has been causing concern for gardai at the Bridewell Station in particular for a long time now.

CONVICTIONS

"However, he had no previous form for this kind of activity and the events of yesterday morning show that he is clearly not very experienced with a shotgun.

"He is a nobody in terms of organised criminal activity and may have been paid to shoot Charlie O'Neill."

O'Neill, from Balcurris Road in Ballymun, has some 20 previous convictions, including drugs offences, and has regularly been targeted by drugs officers in Ballymun and Finglas.

O'Neill's most serious conviction was when he was given a four-year suspended jail term in July 2007 after he threatened to kill his estranged wife, Barbara, at her home and led gardai on a high-speed car chase with his seven-year-old son in the back seat.

He was also banned for driving for a year and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

The court heard that he picked up a knife in his wife's kitchen during a 2005 argument and told her: "I'll put this in your head."

A major investigation is now taking place in relation to yesterday's attempted murder.

Yesterday, gardai were conducting house-to-house inquiries in the area and were 'harvesting' CCTV footage from local businesses.

Local woman Kay Nevin (71) told reporters that she saw the man with a gunshot wound to his thigh sitting propped up against a small pillar at Hillcrest Park. He then lay down on the ground and raised his hand to call for help.

TOWEL

A neighbour of the woman went to the wounded man's assistance and used a towel in an effort to stop the flow of blood from his leg.

A man from Hillcrest Park said he saw a man running and presumed he was catching a bus, but then he collapsed on the ground. A 75-year-old resident pointed out that schoolchildren use the lane and could have been injured in the gun attack.

hnews@herald.ie

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