herald

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Man shot four times and partner injured in school-run attack

A MAN was gunned down in cold blood just seconds after dropping his child off at school this morning.

The country's latest gun murder took place in Balbriggan shortly after 9am.

The victim, named locally as Benny Whitehouse (36), was blasted four times as he got into his car on Clonard Street in the north Dublin town.

His partner was shot in the leg by the lone gunman who then sped from the scene.

The horrific gun attack took place just yards from St Peter and Paul's primary school as parents brought their children in for the day.

Whitehouse had just dropped his child to the school and walked back the short distance to his VW Polo when he was singled out by a gunman who opened fire on him repeatedly.

It is understood that the gunman ran to the driver's side of the car and fired a volley of shots through the side window.

Shattered glass could be seen on the road beside the car.

Whitehouse, who lived at Westbrook Rise in Balbriggan, tried to escape and ended up face down on the footpath with his legs still in the car.

A local man who heard the shooting told the Herald how he tried to save the victim's life.

"I heard around five shots, in rapid succession, and ran out the door," he said.

"I could see the man lying face down on the road and saw a lone man speeding away in a Ford Focus.

"I ran to the victim. He had been hit twice in the back, once in the chest and once in the hand from what I could see.

"I tried to give him CPR but there was no signs of life at all, he was gone," the witness explained.

SCREAMING

"His partner was screaming. She had been hit in the upper leg and she was very distressed. I think she knew her partner was dead," said the man.

"At that stage the gardai arrived and took over."

The body of Benny Whitehouse lay on the pavement covered in plastic sheeting this morning, while gardai sealed off the scene pending a forensic examination.

His wine-coloured VW Polo, with its driver's window shattered, was also covered up by gardai.

His partner was removed to Beaumont Hospital where she was being treated for injuries to her upper thigh.

Benny Whitehouse's brother arrived at the shooting scene shortly after his brother had died and began shouting at gardai: "He was looking for a [bullet proof] vest but ye wouldn't give him one."

Whitehouse is believed to have been targeted as part of an ongoing Traveller feud that has led to trouble outside St Peter and Paul school over the past year.

Armed gardai were forced to patrol the school last November after pupils there witnessed two feud-related attacks.

There were fears that innocent children would be caught in the crossfire of the dispute, which has been ongoing for a number of months.

In one incident, a 34-year-old man and his wife drove to a school in a green Toyota Avensis car with the intention of dropping their two children off.

However, five men in a Ford Transit van were waiting for the man and when his car pulled in, they jumped out of the vehicle and tried to grab him.

The man jumped back into his car and drove off at high speed, damaging other vehicles parked outside the school.

cfeehan@herald.ie

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