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Psychopath linked to 13 murders but solid police work means time is now running out for 'The Don'

Three weeks into 2010 and already six people have been brutally murdered, five of them on the streets of Dublin.

What is very worrying is that at least three of these murders are being linked to a major criminal who is based in the north west of the city, in the Finglas area.

This man, who the media refer to as 'The Don', is now suspected of involvement in 13 murders since December 2006.

I am well acquainted with this man's past history. As a detective inspector in the Finglas area he was the subject of major investigations that I was involved in.

Martin 'Marlo' Hyland and innocent plumber Anthony Campbell are suspected of being the first victims of this psychopath. They were brutally murdered on December 12, 2006 at Scribblestown Park in Finglas.

As DI in charge, my biggest regret on retirement seven months later was that I had not brought the killers of young Campbell to justice.

What is interesting in all of the murders that 'The Don' is suspected of being involved in, is he is not believed to have actually pulled the trigger in any of them himself.

He is a cunning and clever criminal who has managed to distance himself from all of these murders by using other criminals to do his dirty work. And he treats these other criminals as expendable, when needs be.

However, he recently lost two major henchmen through the judicial system, which has undoubtedly weakened his position. They are currently serving very lengthy sentences handed down by the courts, and are unlikely to be freed for decades. Another suspected 'employee' of 'The Don' is currently before the courts accused of a heinous murder, a job carried out at the behest of his boss, gardai believe.

'The Don' himself is due to appear in court very soon for sentencing on a charge which he has fought through every court in the land. He is also due to stand trial later this year on a very serious charge in which other notorious criminals also stand accused. Time is getting short for him, with the courts beckoning.

People ask the question, "Why can the gardai not put these criminals behind bars and lock them away so that they cannot harm anyone else?" Why does 'The Don' remain at large, despite his suspected involvement in multiple murders since 2006?

We have seen an avalanche of new laws passed in recent years by successive Ministers for Justice. At the end of the day, evidence which will stand the test of scrutiny by the judicial system is all that will convict a person of a crime.

I know from personal experience that gathering evidence which will stand the test in the courts is not easy.

Strong

Recent TV shows, like CSI, , where serious crimes are solved in less than one hour, tend to confuse the public and belittle the efforts being made by real forensic scientists and police detectives.

Cases against individuals such as the 'The Don' require a large amount of strong, hard evidence, which will be tested to the Nth degree by the gang boss's legal team in court.

The good decent people of Finglas have it within their grasp to be rid of this cancer.

They can assist the gardai by giving them the information they need to put these criminals behind bars before more innocent people are murdered.

The prisons are full to the brim of other serious criminals who also thought they were too big and smart to be taken down. More to the point, the cemeteries of this city are also full of would-be 'Dons'.

Brian Sherry was the former detective inspector overseeing Finglas, with responsibility for policing organised crime.