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Monday 22 October 2018

Victim's feud with vicious crack gang may have led to his murder

Garda forensics at the scene of the murder of Robert Sheridan
Garda forensics at the scene of the murder of Robert Sheridan

A murder victim may have fallen foul of a vicious crack cocaine gang.

Father-of-two Robert Sheridan (45) was shot dead when he answered the door at his home in Poppintree Crescent, Ballymun, on Friday night.

He had been targeted several times in the weeks leading up to his death, with 13 bullets being pumped into his home and two cars being burned out.

Investigators believe two masked men carried out the gun attack at around 11.15pm before fleeing into nearby Poppintree Park.

Mr Sheridan was treated at the scene by paramedics but pronounced dead a short time later.

The victim was known to local gardai for drug offences but was not considered a serious criminal.

However, gardai believe that he was involved in a personal feud with a crack cocaine dealing gang from the area.

The dispute, which escalated in recent months, led to Mr Sheridan being blamed for orchestrating a violent attack on a young member of the local crime gang.

But there was no evidence to suggest that he was involved.

Motive

Gardai were last night trying to establish a definite motive for the murder.

A source said last night that Mr Sheridan had not been arrested or caught with any drugs recently which would lead to him being targeted.

One line of enquiry being followed is if his dispute with the crack cocaine gang was personal rather than directly linked to the drug trade.

"It wasn't a secret in the area that he had major difficulties with young dealers who are particularly ruthless," said the source.

"The bad blood was festering for a while and escalated recently with his home and car targeted.

"He hadn't been arrested for any serious incidents and there doesn't appear to have been any sort of turf war going on. Indications are that this murder was the result of a personal dispute."

Such was the threat to Mr Sheridan that he had been served with a Garda Information Message, known as a GIM form, which gardai give to a person when there is a credible risk to their life.

The decision to issue the security advice came on the back of a series of attacks on him.

In June his car was set on fire, while another vehicle was smashed up in August. The same vehicle was the target of a further arson attack in September.

The attacks escalated three weeks ago when 13 shots were fired into his home.

He only escaped serious injury because he was not home when the house was shot at. In an interview with the Sunday World days before he was killed, Mr Sheridan said he was carrying a dagger for his own safety and that he had been offered a firearm by local criminals.

"It's the only protection I have, but it's not much use against a gun," he said. "They may be idiots but they're idiots with guns. It's really wrecking my head.

"The guards can't do anything until I give a statement - but if I give a statement I'll be shot dead."

Mr Sheridan said he was being targeted by a mob in their late teens and early 20s.

"It started with a young fella who's around 18 or 19 who's selling crack cocaine," he said.

"It started years ago when he started causing s**te and his brother started causing s**te.

"Back in 2011 or 2012 he started mouthing. Now he's older and he's dealing. He got involved in the car being burned and the house being shot."

Yesterday, members of the Divisional Search Team were continuing to comb through Popintree Park in an effort to uncover any evidence left by the killers.

A forensic examination was carried out by members of the Garda Technical Bureau.

Superintendent Brian Daly of Ballymun Garda Station told reporters at the scene over the weekend that the suspects were wearing balaclavas.

"It's understood two armed men involved in the incident left the scene on foot and entered Poppintree Park before exiting on to Willow Park road," he added.

"We are appealing to anyone in the area between 10pm and 12 midnight to contact us here at the incident room at Ballymun Garda Station."

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock said that the Ballymun area needed an increased garda presence to prevent any further incident.

Epidemic

"Once again, the community in Ballymun has woken up to news of a shooting," he said.

"This is becoming all too frequent an occurrence. Unfortunately, on this occasion, it has resulted in a fatality. It's quite clear we need an increased presence in this area."

A local GAA club recently warned of a crack epidemic in Ballymun with criminal gangs "grooming" children to push drugs.

The executive of Setanta GAA Club sent a letter to Drugs Minister Catherine Byrne in which it was claimed the use of crack cocaine in the area has increased tenfold in recent times.

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