herald

Thursday 12 December 2019

Suspected killer a 'dead man walking' as gardai quiz three men over foiled murder plot

Sean Little was murdered last May. Two of the men arrested last weekend are said to be close associates of his
Sean Little was murdered last May. Two of the men arrested last weekend are said to be close associates of his

A suspected hitman is lucky to be alive after gardai foiled a murder plot against him in Dublin.

Three men remain in garda custody following the dramatic intervention in the Raheny area on Saturday afternoon.

A father and son aged in their 40s and 20s, who are very close associates of murdered drug dealer Sean Little (22), are being quizzed on suspicion of involvement in the botched hit.

A 55-year-old Wexford man, who detectives suspect was hired as a hitman for the shooting, was also arrested by members of the elite Emergency Response Unit (ERU).

Pounced

The heavily-armed gardai swooped on the would-be hitman as he sat in an Audi vehicle in the Raheny area, preparing to carry out the shooting.

When officers pounced on him they recovered a firearm, along with a canister of petrol, a balaclava and a spare change of clothes.

The father and son were arrested a short distance from the scene after dropping their associate to the Audi vehicle to be used in the planned murder.

The target of the assassination attempt is a 27-year-old criminal who gardai believe has acted as a hitman for hire for a number of Dublin crime gangs.

He has been arrested by detectives probing the feud shooting of James 'Mago' Gately in 2017, which was carried out on behalf of the Kinahan cartel.

The thug has also been classed as an associate of the mob led by Finglas drug dealer 'Mr Flashy'.

He has been blamed for involvement in an escalating dispute in the Coolock area, including the murder of Sean Little earlier this year.

Little, from Kilbarron Avenue in Kilmore, was lured to a laneway in Walshestown near Balbriggan in May before being shot dead.

Associates of his have blamed the under-threat hitman for involvement in the murder and were targeting him in a revenge hit over the weekend when they were arrested.

In a bizarre twist, he took a lie detector test to support his claim that he was not involved but Little's associates are continuing to target him.

The 27-year-old north Dublin man had been officially warned by gardai that there was an active threat on his life.

Sources last night said the target of the murder plot is "a dead man walking" and remains under active threat.

"He got lucky on this occasion that gardai intervened but the threat is ongoing, not just from Sean Little's associates but from other criminals in the Coolock area," a source told the Herald.

He was also linked to Iranian criminal Hamid Sanambar, shot dead in May just a week after the Little murder.

The hit attempt over the weekend is part of a complex feud in the Coolock area involving three different factions, while shootings and explosive incidents in Ballymun are also connected to the dispute.

Speaking after the garda operation, Detective Chief Superintendent Angela Willis, head of the National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, said: "The seizure of firearms and the arrest of those who are prepared to use them to take life is a priority for the National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau."

Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll, of Special Crime Operations, added: "I have no doubt that this operation has prevented a firearm being used to take life and enabled An Garda Siochana to keep people safe."

It is the second time in as many months that detectives have foiled a murder plot linked to the feuding in the area.

In July, two men were arrested and two firearms recovered ahead of a planned hit on a Coolock criminal.

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