herald

Friday 22 June 2018

Gang leader 'in panic' over gun attack and has gone to ground

Forensics staff probe the scene
Forensics staff probe the scene
Graham 'Choco' Byrne was shot in the foot in a botched murder attempt

A senior member of the Kinahan cartel has gone to ground over fears he will be blamed for a botched murder attempt on a dangerous Dublin criminal.

On Friday, Graham 'Choco' Byrne was lucky to escape serious injury after being shot at outside the National Stadium. He was shot in the foot.

The incident sparked panic inside the stadium where a boxing event was taking place, and led to a significant armed garda response.

The Herald has learned that an associate of the cartel was in a state of panic after being informed of the shooting.

This criminal has been a leading figure in the feud but gardai have no information to suggest that he played a role in the attempted murder.

"He panicked when he was told of the shooting. He didn't sanction it and wasn't even aware it was going to happen. This individual is now fearful that he'll be blamed and that he'll be targeted so he has gone to ground," a source said.

The criminal, who is aged in his 30s, has not been seen at his Dublin home in recent weeks and is understood to have been living outside the capital before the shooting.

Student

Detectives investigating the shooting have attempted to interview 'Choco' Byrne but the veteran criminal has refused to co-operate.

A UK student, who was caught in the crossfire, is also expected to be released from hospital today after being treated for injuries to his hand.

The innocent bystander, in his 20s, was struck by a stray bullet fired during the shooting shortly before 9.45pm on the South Circular Road.

Investigating detectives believe that a lone gunman fired up to eight shots from a handgun before fleeing the scene.

Some of the bullets also struck a car belonging to an innocent person.

Gardai are following a number of lines of inquiry in relation to the shooting, and are probing a possible link to the Hutch-Kinahan feud, or that the attempted murder is linked to the fatal shooting of two innocent people last August.

Antoinette Corbally (48) and Clinton Shannon (30) were gunned down on Balbutcher Drive, Ballymun, by a two-man hit team.

The intended target of the attack, Derek 'Bottler' Devoy (37) escaped the scene uninjured. A source last night told the Herald that investigating detectives were in the early stages of their enquiries and that a number of possible motives will be looked at.

"The investigation is in its infancy and it is too early to determine who was behind the shooting of Graham Byrne.

"A feud link and a revenge shooting for the double Ballymun murder will, of course, be looked at, but nothing has been definitively established yet," a senior source stated.

Gardai based in Kevin Street are also in the process of gathering CCTV from the scene of the shooting, and are attempting to trace the movements of a black Lexus which is believed to have been used in the gun attack.

This vehicle was found burnt out in Dunsink Lane, north Dublin, in the aftermath of the shooting.

A second vehicle, a Mercedes, was discovered on fire in the Ferndale area a short time later.

Gardai believe the Mercedes may have been used to transport the hit team from Dunsink Lane after the getaway car was torched.

The target of Friday's shooting, 'Choco' Byrne, is a convicted armed robber who has links to both sides involved in the ongoing Hutch-Kinahan feud.

However, he has had no involvement in the deadly dispute.

'Choco' Byrne, originally from the north inner city but also with an address on the Southside, was previously arrested and charged after breaking into the garda station that houses the force's most elite units.

In 2008, he was jailed for eight years for his role in the attempted armed robbery of more than €250,000 from a cash-in-transit van.

A witness described the panic inside the National Stadium on Friday evening after shots were fired outside.

"Some people were panicking and running. They ran from one side of the stage to the other.

"I'm in the dark as to what happened, but shots were fired outside the stadium," they told the Herald.

A scheduled boxing event went ahead at the stadium on Saturday amid a heavy garda presence in the area.

A member of the Hutch family - who has no involvement in criminality - fought in the event and won his scheduled bout.

Goodness

The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, alluded to the capital's violence in an address in Sean McDermott Street.

"The future of this parish and its people will be shaped not by the drug barons but by the goodness and the determination of good, honest and courageous citizens, young and old, women and men, who care not for their own wealth and power, but for the safe and happy future of our younger generations," he said.

Anyone with information on the incident or any drivers in the vicinity who have dashcams fitted to their vehicles are asked to contact Kevin Street Garda Station on 01 666 9400, the Garda Confidential Line (1 800 666 111) or any garda station.

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