By Cormac Looney
Friday January 09 2009
Gardai now believe drug boss Roly Cronin was shot dead by a pal on the fringes of his own gang.
DNA left on a black jacket and gloves are set to confirm the identity of the killer who is this evening hiding out on Dublin's northside.
Officers believe that Cronin was shot dead by a pal in his 20s from the north inner city.
Armed detectives were seeking the suspect today, as his second victim, James Moloney, remained close to death
"It's early days but we have a chief suspect. He has been on our list for a number of gun attacks on houses in the north and south inner city over the past 12 months," a source said.
The man is thought to have left his DNA on a black jacket, discarded on railings at Gloucester Place.
Results of forensic tests on the jacket, and the lethal .357 Magnum used in the killing, are expected in the coming days.
Cronin (34) was shot once in the head as the car he was sitting in pulled out from the kerb at Langrishe Place, off Summerhill, at 8.40pm last Wednesday night. The driver of the vehicle, Moloney, in his late 20s, was shot twice in the head.
The tracksuit-wearing killer, described as being 5ft 6ins to 5ft 8ins in height, ran from the car down Gloucester Place to the Gloucester Diamond, where he discarded his gun.
Originally from Ballymun, but with extensive connections in the north inner city, Cronin was a major supplier of drugs to areas of west and north Dublin, and the Dublin 1 area.
He had lived for a number of years with his partner and child on nearby Lower Buckingham Street.
He had been targeted twice in the past two years. On one occasion, in 2006, gardai saved his life by intercepting his killer.
Last November he escaped unharmed after shots were fired at his car in Glasnevin.
As the murder probe entered its second day today, sources said a suspect had been identified, and played down reports that a Finglas criminal, who runs the crime gang formerly headed by Marlo Hyland, had ordered the attack.
A senior source: "This one could be a bit closer to home, a bit closer to the north inner city, we believe.
"There's no doubt that Roly stepped on toes on the west side but there's nothing definitively to link to the Finglas mob to it at this stage.
"There's no way he would have let any of Marlo's old crew, or their runners, into the car with him like that. He knew and trusted the guy who did it.
The source added: "Needless to say it's early days and we're keeping an open mind on the whole thing."
The driver of the car, James Moloney, remained in a critical condition in hospital this evening. Moloney, originally from Poppintree, north Dublin but living in a flat at Braithwaite Street in the south inner city, is continuing to battle for his life, despite suffering serious head injuries.
Gardai are appealing for anyone with information to contact them on the Garda Confidential Line, 1800 666111.
They are trying to trace witnesses who may have seen the black Volvo S40 sports car, English reg FD54 CEY, in the hours before the killing last Wednesday. The vehicle had not been stolen.
Officers are continuing to examine CCTV from the area. The killer is not believed to have worn a balaclava.
Cronin served a 10-year jail sentence, after he was caught with heroin at his Buckingham Street flat in 1996.
On his release from prison four years ago he became involved with the Marlo Hyland crime gang, while also retaining his own dealing business in the north inner city.
The .357 Magnum dates back to 1935, but its 125-grain Jacketed Hollow Point bullet is regarded by US experts as the most lethal round available.
The gunman used a revolver, less likely to jam than a semi automatic pistol in the close confines of a car.
The .357 Magnum round is simply a lengthened .38 Special -- used by Garda detectives for decades.
The revolver can also shoot the lighter recoiling but less effective .38 Special.
Republican killers, with access to a wide range of weapons, preferred the .357 Magnum for its instant close range 'stopping' power.
- Cormac Looney