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Lawlor mob hit squad may have travelled from city for murder

  • Dealer ‘blamed for double cross’

  • Revenge probe over hitman's killing

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Warren Crossan was shot dead on Saturday afternoon in west Belfast

Warren Crossan was shot dead on Saturday afternoon in west Belfast

PA

Warren Crossan was shot dead on Saturday afternoon in west Belfast

Detectives are investigating if Dublin associates of slain hitman Robbie Lawlor travelled across the Border to carry out a revenge hit for his murder.

Gardai are liaising with the PSNI after Warren Crossan was shot dead in broad daylight in west Belfast on Saturday afternoon.

The 28-year-old was blasted several times while trying to flee from two masked gunmen on a busy residential street near his family home.

Crossan was previously arrested by police investigating the murder of Robbie Lawlor (36) in Belfast last April and was suspected of double-crossing the Dublin criminal after arranging to meet him for a drug-debt collection.

Two close associates of the Dundon crime gang, including a teenager, were also arrested within hours of the Lawlor murder but all were later released from custody.

Motive

It is now being investigated if Crossan was shot dead on Saturday in a revenge hit after being blamed for double-crossing Robbie Lawlor.

"There are reports that Lawlor's crew travelled up to Belfast and had an involvement in the murder," a source told the Herald.

"It's being looked at as a primary motive but there are several other lines of enquiry as to why Warren Crossan was shot dead.

"The narrative that Lawlor was a lone ranger is not accurate and even though he was a gun-for-hire he also had a small, loyal crew throughout the years while carrying out robberies and other crimes."

Lawlor was a suspect in several gangland killings and shootings, including the murder of teenager Keane Mulready-Woods (17) in January.

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Robbie Lawlor (pictured) was a suspect in the gruesome murder of Keane Mulready-Woods

Robbie Lawlor (pictured) was a suspect in the gruesome murder of Keane Mulready-Woods

Robbie Lawlor (pictured) was a suspect in the gruesome murder of Keane Mulready-Woods

He was also involved in a dispute with a north Dublin gang boss known as 'Mr Big', who is suspected of ordering his murder on April 4.

Lawlor had also been centrally involved in the Drogheda feud and had aligned himself with rivals of the so-called Maguire faction.

The victim of Saturday's shooting was suspected by police in Northern Ireland of being heavily involved in the drugs trade.

In a court appearance last year, Crossan was described by investigators as a "kingpin" in a plot to smuggle around €200,000 of cocaine into the North.

The murder victim was the son of well-known dissident republican Tommy Crossan, himself shot dead in Belfast in 2014 after falling out with former associates.

The PSNI said it was carrying out investigations throughout the country and was not ruling anything out.

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Keane Mulready-Woods

Keane Mulready-Woods

Keane Mulready-Woods

Detectives from the PSNI's Major Investigation Team is carrying out the probe into Crossan's murder in St Katharine's Road in west Belfast.

Lawlor was gunned down less than 7km away in April in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast.

Investigators believe that two masked men chased Crossan along a stretch of road while firing a number of shots.

Detective Chief Inspector Darren McCartney, of the PSNI, described it as a "callous and reckless killing", while adding that it "simply beggars belief" to bring firearms on to a residential street.

"The gunmen did not give any thought to the risk posed to local people in this community when they ran through the streets firing shots, at least one of which struck a vehicle owned by a resident," he said.

"It is too early to speculate on the motive for this callous murder and, over coming days, I will be working to piece together all the information and evidence.

"I know the community is in shock but I would appeal to anyone who has information about this appalling murder to please bring that forward.

"I would like to hear from anyone who saw the victim being chased by the two gunmen in the Rodney Drive, St James's Road, Rodney Parade and St Katharine's Road areas before the shooting.

Appointment

"We are interested in Warren's movement prior to the shooting. We know he left his home in the Crumlin area shorty before 11am in a dark metallic blue Skoda Octavia.

"He was next observed parking the vehicle at the family home in Rodney Parade at approximately 12.40pm. We are keen to hear from anyone who saw Warren during this time."

It emerged earlier this month that Lawlor was murdered during an appointment arranged while exchanging cash in a supermarket car park.

The details emerged as a man, on bail for the killing, failed in an attempt to have a curfew lifted at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

The suspect (36) has not been charged with any offences connected to the murder, but a detective told the court the man was believed to have met Lawlor in a Tesco car park in Crumlin, Co Antrim, the day before the shooting.

"Robert Lawlor did attend that appointment, and when he arrived he was met by a gunman who exited [the address] and shot him dead in broad daylight," a detective told the court.

"This murder is directly linked to a feud between several organised crime gangs originating out of the Republic.

"It's a comprehensive and complex investigation, with numerous links to organised crime gangs."