Thursday 27 October 2016

Murder victim in slash attack just days before gun execution

Garda forensic officers at the site where Neil Fitzgerald's body was found Photo: Collins
Garda forensic officers at the site where Neil Fitzgerald's body was found Photo: Collins

Ireland's latest gangland murder victim carried out a violent slash attack only days before he was shot dead.

Neil Fitzgerald (36), who was a key lieutenant in the Rattigan gang, was shot dead in a remote location in Tallaght at the weekend.

His body was found by a passer-by on Sunday morning in the Hills Lane area of the Dublin suburb.

The Herald can reveal that Fitzgerald was involved in a violent brawl last Wednesday with a young man.

This led to associates of feared gangsters Graham 'The Wig' Whelan and 'Fat' Freddie Thompson becoming involved.

Murder victim Neil Fitzgerald
Murder victim Neil Fitzgerald


Fitzgerald produced a knife during the brawl and one man suffered slash wounds. The injured man then called two men, who are close associates of Thompson and Whelan, who arrived at the scene.

A number of threats were issued, with Fitzgerald warning the Kinahan cartel associates that he would kill them.

It is understood this is one of a number of threats Fitzgerald had made against rival gangsters since his release from jail.

It has also emerged that a close friend of Fitzgerald summoned him to the scene of his murder in an apparent act of betrayal.

Fitzgerald, who had been living in Blessington, Co Wicklow, spent a number of his younger years in Australia and was involved in body-building.

He previously received a 10-year jail term after pointing a loaded handgun at three garda detectives following a high-speed car chase.

It later emerged that the weapon with which Fitzgerald threatened gardai was used in an attack on Thompson's home.

A source described Fitzgerald as "an angry individual" who was prone to violence throughout his life.

Whelan and Thompson were key players in the Crumlin/Drimnagh feud in the Noughties which claimed 16 lives.

Whelan (35), who is described as one of the more dangerous gangland figures, was arrested in the drug seizure that led to the deadly round of killings.

The thug, along with Phillip Griffiths and Declan Gavin, was arrested following the massive seizure at the Holiday Inn on Pearse Street.

Gavin's associates labelled him a rat after the successful garda operation, and his 2001 murder, for which Brian Rattigan is serving a life sentence, ignited the deadly feud.

Meanwhile, gardai were last night continuing to question two people in relation to the murder of Neil Fitzgerald.

The man and woman, who are both aged in their 20s, are being held at Tallaght and Rathfarnham garda stations.

Both were associates of Fitzgerald, and the man has several previous convictions for armed robberies as well as drug-related offences.

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