By Cormac Looney and Cormac Murphy
Saturday January 10 2009
GARDAI have obtained crucial DNA evidence from the Magnum pistol used in the killing of Michael ‘Roly' Cronin and his driver.
Officers are expected to swoop on the chief suspect for the double murder in the coming days in an effort to match his DNA to the sample recovered from the powerful pistol used in the shooting.
Dozens of officers are this weekend hunting the man in his 30s they suspect of the hit - an associate of drug boss Cronin's from the north inner city.
The second man shot in the incident, James Moloney, from Poppintree in Ballymun, died yesterday afternoon from his injuries.
He had been on life support at St James's Hospital since being shot twice in the head as he sat beside Cronin.
A breakthrough in the case occurred last night when preliminary forensic tests on the gun yielded a DNA sample, which gardai believe belongs to the killer.
A source told the Herald: "It's a key piece of evidence and the next step is obviously to match it to the hitman.
"We have a chief suspect and we are trying to locate him this weekend. But we're keeping an open mind and there'll be a few other people we'll need to speak to as well.
"The case is progressing slowly but surely. Given the nature of DNA analysis, it could take four to six weeks to get a full match."
The main suspect is known to gardai and was friendly with Cronin in the past, and officers believe that this friendship explains why the gang boss allowed him into his car at Langrishe Place, off Summerhill, last Wednesday night.
As the black Volvo S40 drove off, the gunman fired one shot at Cronin and two at Moloney before fleeing.
He dropped the murder weapon, a Magnum .357, under a car at Gloucester Place, and also discarded a black jacket and gloves nearby -- all of which have been recovered by gardai.
Forensic tests are continuing on the jacket and gloves, and gardai are hopeful of obtaining DNA from one if not both pieces of evidence.
The source added: "It's rare that a hitman would leave so much evidence at the scene. He was obviously panicking as he ran from the car on Summerhill down into Gloucester Place."
Moloney, in his 20s, was an associate of Cronin's. He was originally from Poppintree, but more recently lived at Braithwaite Street in the south inner city. He had been on life support since the shooting last Wednesday but a decision was made yesterday to switch off the machine.
While Cronin was a major drug trafficker, Moloney had no criminal convictions.
Moloney had been warned in recent weeks there was a hit out on his boss and told to stop working for him.
The remains of Cronin, who was originally from Ballymun but had also lived in the north inner city and Finglas, will be released for burial in the coming days.
The dad of one was released from prison four years ago, after serving a 10-year sentence for drugs possession.
After his release from jail, he aligned himself to Marlo Hyland's Finglas-based crime gang, while also running his own business in areas from Ballymun to Poppintree.
Officers are examining a number of motives for Cronin's killing, but the chief line of inquiry is that he fell out with other criminals in the north inner city over cash owed for drugs.
- Cormac Looney and Cormac Murphy