By CONOR SWEENEY in Amsterdam
Sunday June 04 2000
A ROW over an outstanding debt is believed to have led to the death of one of Ireland's most notorious underworld figures, Derek ``Maradona'' Dunne, 33, who was gunned down after a row in his Amsterdam home. He was found outside his apartment after a gunfight between gangsters of different nationalities broke out at the apartment. Also found were two other gangsters an Englishman who was shot and ``critically'' wounded lay just inside the entrance to the apartment, and a Dutchman, 25, appeared to have been handcuffed and shot but was less seriously injured.
Both of the injured men have been arrested by police.
Dunne, a former League of Ireland soccer player, was at his home with his common-law wife Rachel Mitchell, daughter of George Mitchell, who is known as the Penguin. Dunne's five-year-old daughter was also in the house at the time of the attack. Yesterday, her bicycle could be seen in the blood-splattered hallway.
Just before midnight, Rachel answered the door to three men a Yugoslav, an Englishman and a Dutchman. They had apparently come to discuss money owed to the Yugoslav by Dunne. During the encounter Rachel Mitchell started screaming and shots were fired. Dunne is believed to have hit two of the men who called to the house but was himself fatally wounded. The man who was handcuffed is thought to have been an associate of Dunne's who was forced to lead the Yugoslav and Englishman to Dunne's house.
Derek Dunne was later found shot dead in the street four feet from his home. The Englishman was lying with bullet wounds to his head and back and is in a critical condition in hospital. The Dutch national was later found in the street handcuffed and dazed by Dutch police.
Rachel Mitchell was uninjured but was last night in hospital suffering from shock.
Police said at least two different handguns were used in the gunfight. The shooting happened in the working-class Amsterdam suburb of Osdorp.
The shooting comes just six weeks after three young Irishmen were found murdered in an apartment in Scheveningen outside The Hague, in what investigators believe were drug-related killings.
Derek ``Maradona'' Dunne was a former League of Ireland player and played in the first team for St Patrick's Athletic during the late Eighties and early Nineties.
He played for three seasons under Brian Kerr, the present Irish under-18s manager and former manager of St Patrick's Athletic. ``He trained hard and played hard and he was very disciplined,'' Brian Kerr told the Sunday Independent. ``I remember it was a surprise to everyone when allegations about drug smuggling were first made against him. He was a very dedicated player. People didn't know what was going on, if it is true,'' he said.
Dunne grew up in Dublin's north inner city and in 1996 a prosecution case in Liverpool against the soccer star and his brother David for the importation of heroin from Liverpool to Dublin in July 1994 and March 1995 collapsed.
Derek Dunne has been linked for several years in Garda intelligence files to George Mitchell, who is known as the Penguin. Mitchell is reputed to be within the senior ranks of the international drugs trade in Europe.
Garda sources told the Sunday Independent that Dunne was one of Mitchell's key lieutenants.
Up to five years ago, Derek Dunne lived in the north inner city of Dublin. Born in Alfie Byrne House on Grenville Street, he was last in Ireland for the funeral of his father, who died of cancer last year.
However, after a vicious row with another gangster, Derek Dunne was told to leave the country or he would be shot. He first made his base in Liverpool and three years ago he moved to take up residence in Holland.
George Mitchell has been based in Amsterdam since the shooting of Veronica Guerin. In March 1998, he was arrested by Dutch police and charged with a £5m computer supplies robbery.
Mitchell previously lived at The Coppices in Palmerstown on Dublin's west side with his two sons, aged 27 and 25. Both his sons now live in Amsterdam.
During his court appearances in Holland, Mitchell described himself as a respectable businessman involved in import-export.
The Penguin's gang is made up of Irish, Dutch and East European criminal associates.
The gang also has close ties with Middle Eastern and South American drug-trafficking gangs. The gang are the key suppliers for cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy into the British and Irish markets.
George Mitchell is also a key broker for other gangs operating in Ireland, Britain and Europe. Its sphere of operation, according to Garda sources, includes Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Turkey and Russia.
Apart from drug trafficking, George Mitchell and his associates are involved in illegal firearms trading, prostitution and money laundering.
It is estimated that the Penguin, with other key cohorts including Derek Dunne, generates a profit of £1m per week.
At this stage there is no reason to link the shooting to the brutal murder of three Irishmen in Scheveningen outside The Hague just over a month ago.
- CONOR SWEENEY in Amsterdam