'Guinea Pig' in secret meeting with Ken murder suspects
A notorious thug who was charged with the infamous 'canal murders' over a decade ago attended a secret pub meeting with suspects in the Kenneth O'Brien murder case.
O'Brien received one gunshot wound to the head before being dismembered with a chainsaw.
His torso was recovered over a fortnight ago from the Grand Canal, near Ardclough, Co Kildare, while his head and limbs were discovered in follow- up searches at Sallins.
The Herald can reveal that Mark Desmond, also known as the 'Guinea Pig', attended a secret pub meeting last weekend with two brothers who are among the suspects in Mr O'Brien's murder.
Desmond (40) - who was charged but never convicted of a double murder in which the two victims were dumped in the Grand Canal - was spotted in the company of the west Dublin brothers.
They are described by sources as being heavily involved in the distribution of drugs in the west Dublin area over the past decade, but have managed to evade serious convictions.
Sources have also revealed how the pair are being considered as suspects by investigating gardai, and that Kenneth O'Brien may have been murdered over financial issues regarding the sale and supply of drugs in west Dublin.
One of the siblings was previously arrested in relation to a multi-million euro cocaine bust, during which the National Drugs Unit targeted a drugs factory. However, he was never convicted of the offence.
The siblings are believed to have been friendly with the 'Guinea Pig' since their youth.
Desmond met both suspects at the west Dublin premises for around half an hour.
Gardai are monitoring the movements of the men since Mr O'Brien's murder. This is the first sighting of Desmond in the capital for a number of months.
The investigation into the brutal murder is continuing, with two garda officers flying to Australia to inquire into Mr O'Brien's life during his three years there before returning home to west Dublin last month. Detectives believe the gang wanted the victim's body parts to be found so that a grim message would be sent out to anyone tempted to cross them.
Gardai are probing whether Mr O'Brien had been either laundering their cash or providing them with money for their sophisticated trafficking network when a dispute broke out.
Detectives are now satisfied that Mr O'Brien's murder was well planned and his killers did not panic when they dumped his remains at different locations in the Royal and Grand Canals.
"In all probability, this gang knew that this man's remains would be found quickly, and those responsible for the murder don't seem too bothered about this," a source said.
"The belief is that they wanted to send out a sick message to their rivals or anyone else that might think of ripping them off. O'Brien was used by this criminal network because he was a clean pair of hands and was very much under the garda radar."
Meanwhile, Ballyfermot native Desmond has been based in Co Sligo for the past number of months and was acting as a 'heavy' for a local drugs gang.
Originally from Lally Road in Ballyfermot, he gained national notoriety when he was arrested and charged with the murders of Darren Carey (19) and Patrick Murray (20). The men's bodies were discovered in the icy water of the Grand Canal in early 2000.
However, the charges were sensationally dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions just days before the trial.