| 9.9°C Dublin

Mobs in Lawlor murder start 'blame game' over €50,000 garda swoop

'Feud-within-feud' fear as gang members claim they were set up

Close

PSNI officers search a house in the Ardoyne area of Belfast where a drug
dealer was arrested on suspicion of murdering Robbie Lawlor

PSNI officers search a house in the Ardoyne area of Belfast where a drug dealer was arrested on suspicion of murdering Robbie Lawlor

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

PSNI officers search a house in the Ardoyne area of Belfast where a drug dealer was arrested on suspicion of murdering Robbie Lawlor

A dangerous "blame game" over the seizure of €50,000 has broken out between members of the McCarthy-Dundon gang, who gardai believe were hired to set up the murder of Robbie Lawlor, and the Maguire mob suspected of ordering the hit.

Sources said last night that both sides are "blaming each other" for the seizure by gardai of the cash on Monday from two women who have links to the McCarthy-Dundon mob from Limerick.

The women were released without charge from Portlaoise Garda Station on Tuesday after being questioned in relation to money-laundering offences over the seized €50,000, which was paid to the Limerick mob by the Maguire faction for its involvement in hitman Lawlor's murder.

"The McCarthy-Dundons will want their cash and they're saying they've been set up for the big seizure," a source told the Herald.

"If the situation between the two gangs, who previously had close links to each other, isn't resolved quickly, it could lead to a feud within a feud.

"A blame game has already broken out between the two organisations over the money that was seized by gardai."

Infiltrating

It can also be revealed that specialist gardai have made great progress in infiltrating the Maguire mob.

Its leader, Owen Maguire, was left paralysed after being shot multiple times in July 2018 outside his Drogheda home in an attempted murder believed to have been carried out by Lawlor.

"The Maguire gang have been subject to every kind of surveillance for a long time now and there are informants in that camp as well," the source said.

"Gardai have a very good handle on their activities, and this may well be why that money was seized on Monday.

"They are, of course, very nasty criminals, but they've also been shown to be pretty indiscreet and careless as well."

The Herald can also reveal that, apart from the €50,000 in cash, gardai are investigating reports that a kilogram of cocaine with a street value of €70,000 was given to the Limerick mob by the Maguire faction for its involvement in Lawlor's murder.

It is understood the cocaine is now in the Limerick gang's possession.

The revelations come as the PSNI continues to question a 36-year-old Belfast drug dealer suspected of being the gunman who shot Lawlor, who was blasted multiple times in the head.

Sources said this criminal owed €30,000 to associates of the Maguire gang and the money was "wiped out" for his involvement in the murder.

He was arrested on Tuesday night at a house in the Ardoyne area of Belfast, close to where Lawlor was gunned down.

Our images show a large amount of evidence, including cleaning paraphernalia, being taken from the property by police officers wearing forensic gear.

There was a heavy police presence in the area as the house was searched and examined.

Weapon

The property raided in Strathroy Park is the third house to be searched as part of the investigation.

However, the murder weapon has not yet been recovered.

Tuesday night's arrest is the fifth made during the murder investigation.

Three other men, aged 33, 30, 27, and a boy aged 17 were previously questioned, but all have since been released without charge.

The 33-year-old and his teenage nephew are key members of the McCarthy-Dundon mob who travelled to Belfast with Lawlor.

They were arrested in the aftermath of the murder when PSNI officers raided a house in west Belfast on Saturday afternoon.

The main line in the murder investigation is whether members of the McCarthy- Dundon mob double-crossed Lawlor.

The older mob associate was only recently released from prison after serving a lengthy jail term for firearms offences, while his teenage relative is also well-known to gardai.

Sources said gardai are hopeful of securing money-laundering charges against the two women who were arrested in Co Laois on Monday.

The younger woman, aged in her 20s, is well-known for offences linked to intimidation.

The older woman, aged in her 30s, is also known to gardai for her involvement with serious criminals.

The two criminals linked to the Maguire gang who travelled to Co Louth to meet them with the €50,000 have still not been arrested and there are fears for their safety.

"They could be in some very serious trouble with their own associates and the Limerick crew if they're blamed for the handover at the service station on the M7 that went so horribly wrong," a source told the Herald last night.

It is understood that the body of Lawlor, who was linked to a series of gangland murders, including the butchering of teenager Keane Mulready-Woods in January, is due to be returned to his family this week as PSNI investigations continue.