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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Cartel gangster Byrne holed up in UK mansion as court battle looms

The €500,000 mansion belonging to cartel thug Liam Byrne
The €500,000 mansion belonging to cartel thug Liam Byrne

Fugitive Kinahan cartel lieut-enant Liam Byrne has been tracked down to an English mansion bolthole.

The drug dealer fled Ireland a year ago as the bloody Hutch-Kinahan feud - sparked by the 2016 Regency Hotel murder of his brother David - raged.

He was also facing a major crackdown against him and his mob by gardai and the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB). Byrne was spotted at his hideaway worth more than €500k in an affluent Birmingham suburb by the Sunday World.

They snapped him watering the flowers in his garden - the first time he has been photographed since the Herald found him in Rome for Liverpool's Champions League match against Roma in May.

He has been living in hiding ever since, but a Sunday World team tracked him down to a gated community in the west Midlands.

Byrne's neighbours there include Premier League footballers, entrepreneurs and millionaire professionals.

fleeing

The Dublin thug and his family have been raising eyebrows in the Birmingham area with their unexplained wealth and the steady stream of expensive cars at their home.

Byrne tells anyone who asks that he is a businessman who made his money buying and selling second-hand cars.

He had been believed to be moving around Britain and spending time in Dubai, where his friend Sean McGovern has been living since fleeing Ireland following the cartel murder of Noel 'Duck Egg' Kirwan.

However, the Sunday World revealed yesterday that the 37-year-old has been enjoying a luxurious family life in England.

His mansion is a stone's throw from where his bro- ther-in-law Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh and sister Joanne Byrne live in gated splendour.

Byrne and members of his extended family and friends are due before the High Court tomorrow for the hearing of the CAB's case against them.

However, it is unlikely Byrne or his wife Simoan will return to Ireland to contest the seizure of their home in Raleigh Square, which has doubled in size and undergone major renovations in recent years.

The CAB is also going after murdered David Byrne's home on Kildare Road and the pimped-up house of McGovern.

McGovern was a business partner in Byrne's LS Active Car Sales, which officers believe was used as a front to launder the proceeds of crime.

A fourth property in Clondalkin that detectives have set their sights on is also believed to belong to Liam Byrne.

Byrne was revealed as a top target of a €100m clampdown on organised crime after his brother's murder.

Only a month after the lavish, Mafia-style funeral, officers from the CAB raided the Raleigh Square property.

Detectives, with back-up from specialist units, had to use an angle grinder to get into the house during a raid and discovered a panic room, a whirlpool bath and drinks cabinets stocked with fine champagnes.

LS Active Car Sales was also raided and €1m worth of luxury cars were seized. The company was later dissolved.

Byrne was so incensed by the CAB raids that he hissed and spat at officers and launched a foul-mouthed tirade about those he believed were the cause of his downfall.

A month later, he returned to Ireland for a family party and was arrested by officers who quizzed him about his lavish lifestyle, which they believe is funded by drugs.

Early last year, Byrne left Ireland for good in fear for his life from rivals on the Hutch side of the feud and under huge pressure from the authorities.

Compensation

Tomorrow, the CAB is expected to present its case for forfeiture of his and his associates' property to the High Court.

It is expected that Byrne's sister, Maria, will claim to be the real owner of both her brothers' homes and say she bought them with compensation funds.

The CAB will argue that the homes represent the proceeds of crime and were funded by cartel drug money.

Liam and David Byrne were the scourge of Crumlin for decades and were involved in the bloody Crumlin-Drimnagh feud.

They later rose through the ranks of the Kinahan cartel and spent years living between Dublin and Spain.

While the Byrnes have been under investigation by the CAB for some years, it is understood that the probe was given the utmost priority after the crass display of wealth at David Byrne's funeral.

A €20,000 blue casket held his remains as pipers, horse-drawn carriages and lines of limousines followed him to his final resting place.

The Byrnes have already been dealt a number of blows in the courts in their f ight against the CAB.

Cars seized from Byrne and business partner McGovern's business were sold a number of months ago.

Meanwhile, six members of the Byrne clan who wanted taxpayers to foot their lawyers' bill for fighting the CAB lost their applications for free legal aid.

Then CAB laid bare details of their wealth, including a number of expensive foreign trips, luxury motors and extravagant lifestyles.

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