Wednesday December 07 2005
Clues left behind after 'opportunistic' killing led to teenage prime suspect
GARDAI have made a breakthrough in their investigation into the gangland murder of Noel Roche (27) on the northside of Dublin.
A prime suspect was being questioned by detectives last night after an intelligence operation opening up new lines of inquiry.
The suspect (19) is from a housing estate off the North Circular Road and is known to have a number of haunts in the Cabra area.
In a joint move by local gardai and the national bureau of criminal investigation, detectives swooped on a house in Cabra on Monday night and detained the teenager.
He was being held last night at Raheny garda station, under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, regarding the killing, alleged possession of a firearm and a possible connection with the getaway car used by the killers.
Mr Roche was shot dead in the front passenger seat of a black Mondeo car which was ambushed by members of a rival faction near the Yacht pub in Clontarf on November 15 last.
He was the seventh man to be killed as part of a five-year feud between two drugs gangs in Crumlin-Drimnagh.
Criminals from both sides had been part of one gang until 2000, when gardai acted on a tip-off to seize a €1.5m ecstasy haul at a hotel in Dublin. The gang then split in two, and the rival leaders vowed to eliminate each other.
The murder of Mr Roche is believed to have been an opportunistic crime rather than a planned killing.
The killers abandoned their getaway car, which had been stolen in Blessington, Co Wicklow, and left behind vital clues which could help gardai to identify them, including the handgun used in the murder, balaclava helmets and other clothing. Detectives believe the gunman spotted Mr Roche at a Phil Collins concert in the capital earlier in the night and an ambush was set up.
Mr Roche took his girlfriend to her northside home and was on his way back towards the southside of the city when the car, driven by his 32-year-old associate, came under fire.
The driver was subsequently arrested by gardai but refused to co-operate. He was released without charge and immediately went into hiding, as he feared he could be next on the hit list.
In contrast, the double murder of Darren Geoghegan and Gavin Byrne two nights earlier at Carrigwood in Firhouse was carefully planned.
The getaway car, stolen in Lisburn, Co Antrim, and the gun used in the attack were subsequently set on fire by the killers.
The suspect in garda custody last night had not been linked by detectives to either faction in the feud until recently.
Meanwhile, in a separate development, three men were being questioned by gardai last night about a gang feud which has resulted in nine shootings in the past three years.
The feud is being waged by neighbouring gangs based in the Coolock area on the northside of Dublin.
The suspects, all in their 20s, were arrested by armed detectives after a 24-year-old man was shot in the thigh at a house at Ardara Avenue, The Donahies, Donaghmede, on Monday.