Hitman is stabbed in jail after 'Judas handshake' betrayal by gang boss
A suspected gangland serial killer has been stabbed in jail after apparently being set up by mob boss Cornelius Price.
The hitman, aged in his 30s and believed to have been behind at least six gangland shootings, is also the chief suspect in the murder of his fellow "gun for hire" Ken Finn.
The Herald can reveal that the north Dubliner was targeted by Price and two other inmates in Cork Prison on Friday night.
He needed 29 stitches for extensive injuries but did not require hospital treatment.
Prison officials believe he was approached by Price, who shook his hand and held on to it while two thugs, understood to be from Waterford, stabbed him repeatedly.
Gardai now fear a violent backlash over the stabbing.
It emerged last night that some associates of Price have fled to Manchester over concerns that they will be targeted in reprisal attacks.
Sources told the Herald that a number of possible motives for the stabbing are being looked at, including one theory that the suspected serial hitman was behind a botched murder bid in Drogheda earlier this year.
In that shooting, Owen Maguire (34) was lucky to survive after being blasted six times.
"Another motive is that the shiv attack was carried out in revenge for the murder of Ken Finn, who was a close associate of Mr Big," a source said.
Price himself is considered a dangerous criminal whose associates are the chief suspects in the 2015 disappearance and suspected double murder of Willie Maughan (34) and his Latvian girlfriend Ana Varslavane (21).
A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service confirmed yesterday that an inmate suffered injuries in Cork Prison on Friday night and that an investigation into the assault was now under way.
Although considered among the most prolific hitmen in the capital, the victim of the shiv attack is currently serving a prison sentence for road traffic offences.
He is under investigation for several recent murders and gun attacks in several counties over the past decade.
More recently he was being sought for the murder of Finn (36) in Coolock last February.
Finn, who was also a hitman and the chief suspect in the murder of dissident republican Alan Ryan, was blasted several times in the head outside a house in Moatview Gardens, Coolock.
The shiv attack victim has also been blamed for the July shooting of Maguire, who was blasted six times at a Drogheda halting site.
He has been investigated too for the 2010 murder of father-of-one Noel Deans (27).
He even drank tea with Deans' heartbroken mother after the killing and pretended to console her.
The thug was caught with a gun cartridge in 2013 which had the names of three gardai engraved on it.
He is also believed to be the gunman who was involved in the murder of criminal David 'Fred' Lynch (26) in Darndale in March 2009.
He has been questioned but not charged in relation to that killing.
The hitman was also quizzed by gardai about the gun killing of Tallaght criminal Mark Byrne (29), who was shot dead outside Mountjoy Prison in 2005.
He was also arrested for the non-fatal shooting of Anthony Ayodeji in Darndale in July 2008.
The victim was shot as he held a baby in his arms.
During the summer, extra armed patrols were placed in a Donnycarney estate after the serial hitman carried out an arson attack on the home of a cocaine dealer.