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Four quizzed over murders of missing couple Willie and Ana

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Willie Maughan and Ana Varslavane

Willie Maughan and Ana Varslavane

Willie Maughan and Ana Varslavane

A male relative of a famous boxer, the sister of a notorious crime lord and a close associate of a gun murder victim were among four people being questioned last night about the double murder of a couple whose bodies have never been found.

The three are suspected of having been in the immediate vicinity and may even have witnessed the murders of Willie Maughan and his pregnant girlfriend Ana Varslavane at a property in Gormanston, Co Meath, on April 14, 2015.

A fourth person, a man in his 20s, was also arrested in Dublin yesterday evening.

Compound

A massive search oper- ation for evidence took place yesterday at the compound of gang boss Cornelius Price, where gardai believe the couple were murdered.

Gardai drafted in members of the Defence Forces to help in their extensive searches.

Our photos show soldiers searching ditches and ass- isting the garda Dog Unit during the raid.

The four suspects were arrested in raids in Co Meath and Co Longford, and they were all being questioned at different garda stations in Co Meath and Dublin last night.

"Two men, aged in their 50s and 60s, and one woman, aged in her 40s, are currently detained at garda stations in counties Meath and Dublin under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act 1939," a garda spokesman said.

They are not suspected of being active participants in the double murder, but all are suspected of "having key knowledge about it".

The arrests were welcomed last night by Mr Maughan's father, Joe, who told the Herald: "We are hoping and praying that we will get justice. My family want to thank the gardai for not giving up in this case."

The arrested female, the mother of several children, lives in Navan, Co Meath, and is the sister of a notorious crime lord who is also a person of interest in the case.

Another of the arrested people, the man aged in his 60s, is from Munster and related to a well-known former boxer who fought in high-profile international bouts before retiring.

"Unlike his famous relative, this suspect was down on his luck and lived a miserable and meagre existence, like many others of Price's gophers," a source said last night.

"Gardai believe that just like the arrested women, he was there when those terrible murders happened.

"The boxing star has very little to do with him and would have absolutely no knowledge of these disgusting events."

Also being questioned last night was a 52-year-old man from Balbriggan, who was closely associated with gun murder victim Benny Whitehouse.

Slave

This suspect also "lived the life of a slave" in Price's compound, despite the fact Price's gang are the chief suspects for the murder of his friend.

Mr Whitehouse was shot dead at Clonard Street, Balbriggan, on September 25, 2014, in front of his partner in an unsolved gangland murder.

"These arrests and the new searches are all about gardai trying to get the information that could lead to charges in this case," a senior source said.

"Gardai are in no doubt that these individuals know what happened."

As the garda operation took place, Price remained in England, where he has been based for most of this year.

Price is closely associated with the Maguire faction in the Drogheda feud and other criminal factions nationwide.

Mr Maughan (34) and his Latvian girlfriend Ms Varslavane (21) are believed to have been abducted and murdered by the gang after they went missing on April 14, 2015, in Gormanston.

The couple were planning on moving back to his family home in Tallaght on the day they went missing and are understood to have been murdered because they had key information about the gang's activities, including another murder.

In April 2017, gardai failed to find any evidence of the murdered couple when they carried out a dig near Monasterboice, Co Louth.

Days before the dig, officers raided Price's compound as part of the double murder probe.

The Herald previously revealed that Price taunted and laughed at gardai as they searched for the couple near his compound in the summer of 2015.

Gardai arrested a man in his 50s in late April in relation to the double murder, and he was later charged with separate serious firearms offences.