Raids after boy (4) nearly killed in botched hit
Gardai investigating a gun attack - which almost led to the murder of a four-year-old boy - have carried out searches in Kinnegad, Co Westmeath.
The shocking shooting incident happened in April at Charlestown Shopping Centre in Finglas where a gunman wearing a balaclava fired four shots at intended target Kenneth Roche (25), but missed and a stray bullet hit the boy's car seat.
It has now emerged that gardai investigating the botched hit have identified suspects in the case and carried out raids in Kinnegad.
A number of serious Dublin criminals have moved to the Westmeath town, which is suffering from a major lack of garda resources.
Sources said that this has led to a large number of serious gangland criminals moving to the area, which has seen a surge in serious crime including a €45,000 heroin seizure in May.
The Kinnegad-based Dublin criminals being investigated for the botched Charlestown shooting are understood to have links to gangster 'Fat' Freddie Thompson and a ruthless crime group from Clondlakin.
No arrests have been made yet in relation to April's attempted murder in Finglas.
In an appeal for information, gardai said the gunman escaped as a passenger in a silver-coloured Volkswagen Golf, registration number 02 MH 7775.
This car was burnt out at the Shancastle estate in Clondalkin, west Dublin.
A relative of the four-year-boy who was almost hit by the stray bullet told how close the he came to harm in the daylight attack.
The child was with his father in the car park of McDonald's fast food restaurant when the shooting happened.
"He was going down for a Happy Meal and the little lad was in the back in his child seat and the bullet came in through the back door and through the seat.
"He was in a high seat and, as far as I know, the bullet is stuck in the seat," said the relative.
"If he had been any lower or higher, he was gone - it missed," he said.
Intended target Kenneth Roche is believed to be still in hiding and gardai believe the small time criminal was targeted over a drugs debt.
Meanwhile, a separate crime gang based in Kinnegad is suspected of the murder of Silvestras Stoskus in March 2015.
Gardai have been working on the theory that Mr Stoskus was murdered by a Co Westmeath based drugs gang over a small drugs debt.
Stoskus was killed elsewhere before his naked body was dumped in a field near Broadford, Co Kildare, a number of days before being found.