herald

Saturday 25 January 2020

Serving soldier and girlfriend held over street trader murder

Street trader Clive Staunton was gunned down outside his home in Leixlip
Street trader Clive Staunton was gunned down outside his home in Leixlip

A serving member of the Defence Forces and his girlfriend have been arrested by gardai investigating the gun murder of a 50-year-old father-of-one.

These are the first arrests in the probe into the shooting of street trader Clive Staunton at his home in Leixlip, Co Kildare, on the night of November 15 last year.

The pair were arrested by armed officers at 7.30am yesterday at an apartment in the Coolock area of Dublin.

They were still being detained in north Kildare garda stations last night.

Involvement

The 30-year-old soldier is based at a barracks in the capital and was previously known to gardai for alleged involvement in separate serious offences.

However, it was confirmed by sources last night that despite this, the murder suspect is currently "an active member of the Irish Army".

"Gardai are investigating whether this individual played a central role in the murder and whether he was one of two people directly involved in the fatal shooting" a senior source said last night.

"Gathering of CCTV and mobile phone evidence has played a huge part in this investigation and gardai are investigating if this individual played a key role in organising the murder," the source added.

The soldier's girlfriend, who is understood to be in her late 20s, is also being questioned about the murder, and sources said gardai have not established a definite motive yet.

One line of inquiry is that he may have been targeted after assaulting a woman while another is that he was murdered as part of a row within the counterfeit cigarette market.

Clive Staunton's home in Leixlip. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Clive Staunton's home in Leixlip. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Investigations have established that Mr Staunton - who was distantly related to Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch - was "extremely wealthy" and made most of his money from the importation, distribution and sale of counterfeit clothing and other items.

Gardai initially suspected he was targeted as part of the Hutch-Kinahan feud because of his family connections, but this theory has largely been ruled out.

At the time of his murder he was involved in a "serious dispute" with dissident republicans because of a major row over the distribution of illicit cigarettes.

He was killed "execution style" with two bullets to the head as he lay in the middle of the road outside his home after his killer first fired three shots through the driver's window as the victim parked his van.

Staggered

Mr Staunton initially suffered only superficial injuries in a hail of gunfire.

He managed to get out of his van and staggered towards his driveway when the gunman caught up with him. He was then shot twice in the head as he lay in the middle of the road.

Mr Staunton had been selling merchandise outside the Aviva stadium, where the Republic of Ireland were playing Northern Ireland in an international friendly game, only hours before he was gunned down.

Gardai discovered two burnt-out cars, believed to have been used in the murder, close to the army shooting range in Manor Kilbride, Co Wicklow, about half-an-hour's drive from the scene.

One of the cars was a grey Volvo, while the second was a Renault.

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