Sunday, 11 September 2005

The blood brothers who turned on each other

Sunday Tribune

How drugs and greed drove the Sugg and Glennon brothers to murder, mayhem and death
John Burke
LOCALS who drank in the Brookwood Inn knew where they could and could not sit in that Blanchardstown, Dublin pub.

Inside the main door, to the left, was the domain of one group only . . . the Westies gang members. The two Sugg brothers, the Glennon duo, Shane Coates and a handful of muscled henchmen sat there.

Some drank excessively, their language crude and their manner intimidating.

For more than three years, nobody messed with the untouchable gang of drug dealers and armed robbers in their personal fiefdom. Until they started killing each other.

Now, Andrew 'Madser' Glennon and his older brother Mark, who was shot dead outside his home last week, both lie dead. But not before they killed one of the Sugg brothers, Bernard, the vicious Westies "enforcer".

His big brother, Stephen Sugg, was last seen on the run in Spain. Fellow gang leader Shane Coates also fled abroad after being wounded in a shoot-out with the garda emergency response unit (ERU). Despite rumours that they are in hiding in Morocco, it is widely believed that both Sugg and Coates were murdered by a Mediterraneanbased Russian drugs gang in Alicante last year.

When they ruled their lucrative drugs empire on the west side of Dublin's northside, the Suggs and Glennons operated with chilling ruthlessness, often employing gratuitous violence against their adversaries. They would later display the same enmity towards each other.

The Glennon duo, 31-yearold Coates and Stephen Sugg (26) were friends since their teens in the working-class Corduff estate in Blanchardstown. They had robbed cars together and sold stolen cigarettes. In the late 1990s, they saw a vacuum in the hash and heroin trade in north Dublin and moved in with brutal effectiveness.

For over four years, the gang conducted its affairs with relative impunity. At times, gardai constructed seemingly watertight cases that for various reasons fell apart.

The secret to the Westies' success lay in the level of fear they instilled both in those who worked for them and in their enemies. Junkies and dealers who owed as little as IR£10 were severely beaten.

The Glennon duo were central to imposing this fear.

Andrew Glennon notoriously pulled a tooth from the mouth of one young junkie who could not pay, while another strungout accomplice held the victim down.'The gang taught a lesson to a mother-of-four who could not pay what she owed . . . she was tortured by having her breasts burned with cigarette butts, in front of her children in their north inner city flat.

Brutality The Westies gang encouraged brutality among its network of pushers. One junkie, Derek 'Smiley' McGuinness, from Corduff Park, owed the gang IR£200. He was set upon by two other pushers who, along with Stephen Sugg, smashed all his teeth, slashed him across the face and beat him with an iron bar in a public park. McGuinness gave a statement to gardai identifying Sugg.

Rival heroin dealer Pascal Boland (43) had seen tough men when he dealt with the notorious PJ Judge, a particularly violent drug dealer who was assasinated some years ago. He decided to push in on the Westies' turf and between October 1998 and January 1999 he reportedly imported several major heroin shipments.

But the two Glennons and their cohorts were having none of it. A Westies pusher who helped Boland was severely beaten and told to pass a mobile phone number to Boland. When the older criminal rang the number, he was allegedly told to get off the Westies' patch or he was dead. He told the gang leader to "fuck off. . . you're nobodies."

On 27 January 1999, a gunman fired 11 bullets into Boland's body.

It was the Westies' first big mistake, allowing gardai in Blanchardstown to mount a special investigation into the gang's activities. Increased surveillance and intelligencegathering generated new leads for the force.

Gardai had, at times, been amazed by the luck that kept the gang leaders and their cohorts out of jail. Neither the Suggs nor the Glennons were regarded as being particularly intelligent. "They weren't Rhodes scholars, " one now-retired garda said of the gang leaders.

But gardai got a boost from an unexpected source when, in October 1999, Westies henchmen shot 18-year-old Blanchardstown local Paul Dempsey in his bed, disconnecting his right calf muscle from his leg with one shot.

His offence? The teen was so bold as to date Sugg's 16-year old sister Frances without the elder brother's permission. Dempsey's brother Robert was a friend of Sugg's but he was beaten with an iron bar. Dempsey and his brother agreed to give evidence in court.

Evidence from both Dempsey and McGuinness could have put the senior gang members away for a long time, and hopes were high that stronger prosecutions might emerge once the gang leaders were off the street. Gardai anticipated that the entire deck of cards would fall . . . hopefully bringing down the Glennons and a dozen other Westies henchmen.

But by October 2000, the case against the gang was in shreds. Ultimately, neither Dempsey or McGuinness gave evidence in court.

Between the end of 2000 and late 2002 the Glennon duo, the two Suggs and Coates brazenly stamped their authority on the west Dublin territory. Three smalltime drug pushers were tortured and shot over bad debts. Gardai believe a large number of people who fell foul of the gang were beaten and tortured with knives, vice grips and iron bars.

Unlike previous inner city criminals who had some support among members of their community, the Suggs and Glennons were disliked and feared in equal measure by their Blanchardstown neighbours.

But just over two years ago, things had gone almost irrevocably wrong for the Westies, when Coates and Stephen Sugg fell out with the Glennon brothers. Gardai estimate that the gang had amassed 2m in drug-related profits, mostly from heroin but increasingly from cocaine. The two Glennons wanted a bigger slice of the pie. Coates and the Suggs had finally met a rival in Andrew 'Madser' Glennon especially, who was familiar with their terror tactics.

Panic Stephen Sugg panicked after an attempt was made on his life in February 2003, believing Mark Glennon was behind the attack. Sugg fled to Alicante where he was joined by Coates three months later. The final strike against their once-impenetrable empire occurred in their absence, when 'Madser' walked into the gang's old haunt, shooting Bernard Sugg twice as he supped soda water in the Brookwood Inn.

But the Glennons' time at the top was as short-lived as the reign of Coates and the Sugg brothers. Surrounded by a cabal of henchmen, most of whom have cocaine addictions and access to firearms, the two brothers sparked a row with a rival pair of brothers who were former Westies allies as recently as 18 months ago. The incident escalated into the murder in May of 'Madser' at his Clonee home, and last week's shooting dead of Mark Glennon outside his Blanchardstown home.

What happens next is inevitable, senior gardai believe, given the large array of high-powered weapons at the disposal of west Dublin gangs. The power struggle which gripped the original Westies gang and led to the emergence of the Glennons as the leading force in the west Dublin heroin trade is likely to see another brace of killings in the coming months, if not weeks.
September 11, 2005

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