herald

Saturday 18 November 2017

Rapist and 'gun for hire' linked to cartel pleads guilty to attempted hit

Eoghan O’Connell yesterday pleaded guilty to attempted murder
Eoghan O’Connell yesterday pleaded guilty to attempted murder

This is the convicted rapist who is considered to be one of the country's most dangerous guns for hire.

The Herald can exclusively reveal that Eoghan O'Connell (28) is the chief suspect in at least seven gun attacks, as well as a number of punishment beatings.

Most of these shootings were carried out on behalf of a Bray drug trafficking gang, which is closely associated to Kinahan cartel members based in the south inner city.

O'Connell, who served a five-year jail term for rape when he was just 15, yesterday pleaded guilty to attempted murder at the Central Criminal Court.

The volatile thug admitted trying to kill Clinton McCormack at Old Court Park, Bray, in April last year.

Struggle

Disguised in a balaclava, O'Connell approached the victim and attempted to fire at him but the shotgun jammed. A struggle ensued and O'Connell was later identified before being arrested.

The sex offender, of Dargle Heights, Bray, will be sentenced next year.

Gardai believe that this gun attack was ordered on behalf of a 37-year-old criminal living in the Bray area.

It can now be revealed that O'Connell is suspected of involvement in at least seven gun attacks, both in Wicklow and Dublin, including:

A shooting which left a criminal paralysed from the waist down.

A gun attack which resulted in an innocent woman being shot in the back.

The kneecapping of a young criminal in a punishment attack.

A gun attack on the home of a murder victim's brother.

A senior source last night praised the garda investigation which resulted in the dangerous thug being taken off the streets.

"O'Connell is a very dangerous individual who has been linked to firearms incidents over several years," the senior source said.

"Detectives at Bray Garda Station were meticulous in their investigation, which has resulted in O'Connell being brought before the courts."

Investigators suspect that O'Connell was working as an enforcer for a Bray drug gang led by a convicted killer in his late 40s.

This organised crime group is considered the main supplier of drugs, particularly heroin, in the north Wicklow area.

O'Connell carried out one of his first shootings in February 2011, when an innocent woman (49) was shot in the back.

Gardai believe she was shot in a case of mistaken identity and that the gun attack was ordered by a criminal from the Kilmacanogue area.

Later that year, O'Connell is believed to have fired a number of shots at a house in Roger Casement Park, Bray.

One man received minor injuries after being struck by shattered glass.

This incident related to a personal dispute between O'Connell and another criminal.

Detectives also believe that O'Connell was responsible for shooting up a home belonging to a male relative of murdered Philly O'Toole, who was shot dead in 2013 by a north Wicklow crime gang.

O'Connell was suspected of carrying out three serious gun attacks over a short period of time in 2014 after being released from prison.

The first of these was carried out in August of that year at the Oil Can Harry's pub in Dublin. O'Connell was one of a number of criminals probed in relation to this shooting.

Wounds

Two innocent young people suffered serious gunshot wounds, in what gardai believe was a case of mistaken identity.

Detectives also quizzed O'Connell over the punishment shooting of a young criminal in Bray later that month. The victim was shot twice in each leg and had to undergo lengthy rehabilitation.

The violent thug was also the suspected gunman in the shooting of Jonathan Burke, who was left paralysed following the attempted murder.

He was blasted outside his house in the Heatherwood estate in November 2014, and has since been left with permanent injuries.

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