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Security alert after garda followed home by thugs before teenager's killing

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Minister Charlie Flanagan

Minister Charlie Flanagan

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Minister Charlie Flanagan

All gardai working in Drogheda Garda Station have been formally warned to be extra- vigilant after a vehicle containing feuding gang members followed an officer's car as he drove home.

The sinister incident happened only days before Keane Mulready-Woods (17) was abducted and brutally murdered last Sunday week.

The gang believed to have murdered the teenager is also suspected of trying to follow the male garda from Drogheda town centre to his rural home after he finished his shift.

Sources told the Herald that the officer noticed a "high-powered vehicle" following him and he reported it to his colleagues, who sped to the scene on the outskirts of Drogheda.

Officers stopped the car and searched it, as well as questioning its three male occupants.

All have links to the anti-Maguire side of the Drogheda feud, which has been at war with paralysed gang boss Owen Maguire and his associates.

Two of the men have Dublin addresses and a third is from Drogheda.

Gardai found nothing of evidential value in the car and made no arrests.

Plot

However, the incident sparked major security concerns, and a senior officer emailed gardai to warn them to be extra careful about their personal security.

Gardai investigating the out-of-control feud have previously been threatened.

In December 2018, detectives launched an investigation after officers received "credible intelligence" that criminals from the same gang were planning that two gardai involved in investigating the feud were to be shot dead.

The threats were made in a phone call to Cloverhill Prison, where a number of gangland criminals were on remand at the time after being charged in relation to feud-related incidents.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said at the time that any threats against any member of An Garda Siochana were "utterly unacceptable".

Last week, Mr Flanagan said: "We are going to defeat these violent, thuggish criminals."

Tensions remained high in Drogheda last night, but officers are hopeful that the jailing yesterday of one of the feud's main protagonists may ease the situation in the Co Louth town.

However, there are concerns that the feared thug, who cannot be named for legal reasons, could be back on the streets later this week.

Meanwhile, detectives are investigating whether his bitter gang rival - Owen Maguire's close associate Cornelius Price - left Ireland on Sunday and is currently hiding out in Birmingham.

Armed detectives carried out at least two raids on Price's heavily-fortified compound in Gormanston, Co Meath, last week after receiving intelligence that murder victim Mulready-Woods' head was to be delivered on his killer's orders to Price.

However, the teenager's head was later found in a burnt-out car.