By Cormac Looney and Gerard Couzens
Monday January 26 2009
POLICE were today closing in on the killer of Irish drugs trafficker Richard Keogh after locating the car used in the Costa del Sol hit.
Detectives were today examining the vehicle for fingerprints after a botched attempt by the gunman to set it alight outside a school near the scene.
Forensic experts took away a handgun cartridge and gloves abandoned in the Honda Civic.
The suspect left the vehicle with the engine still running less than half a mile away from the spot where Keogh (30) was gunned down opposite a casino in Torrequebrada, near the resort of Benalmadena.
It has emerged that the murder may have been ordered by a Northside criminal gang.
Senior gardai believe that the shooting is connected to a previous attempt on his life over a year ago, when he was shot and injured as he walked with his daughter outside his home in Duleek, Co Louth.
Keogh, originally from Carnlough Road in Cabra, was shot up to 10 times at 11pm last Saturday. He died instantly. Police are working on the theory the gunman was a passenger in the car and was working with an accomplice driving the vehicle.
Keogh tried to escape after being shot at twice but fell injured outside a supermarket opposite the casino before being killed at close range.
Radiologists who examined his body at a hospital in Malaga are said to have identified shots to his back, head, thigh, leg and arm.
Bruno Bernet, a waiter at a nearby Italian restaurant, said: “Customers jumped when they heard the shots. I heard five.”
Keogh narrowly survived a shooting outside his home in November 2007. That attack was linked to a dispute with a north Dublin gang. Gardai believe that they hired a former subversive to shoot Keogh.
The gang became involved in a row with Keogh as both sides battled for control of the drugs trade in Cabra and the greater Dublin 7 area. Both Keogh and his rivals were former pals of Marlo Hyland but went their separate ways after Hyland’s murder in 2006.
Officers in Dublin today provided background information on Keogh to Spanish police, as the garda liaison officer headed from Madrid to Benalmadena.
A source said: “Early indications are that the murder is linked to a feud Keogh was involved in with a north Dublin gang.
“After the 2007 attack he knew he had to leave the country. He had good connections in Spain but we believe his rivals had good reach over there as well.
“His connections to international gangs will also be looked at, but at present the focus is fixed on the Dublin dispute.”
Keogh was a long-time target of the Garda National Drugs Unit and officers from the Mountjoy and Balbriggan areas of the city. He was a one-time associate of slain Finglas crime boss Marlo Hyland but gardai believe that Keogh had operated his own drug network for the past three or so years.
He used his Spanish base to liaise directly with international gangs, and then arranged shipments of drugs to Ireland, either overland in r trucks or on sea drops off the western coast. His Dublin connections were mainly in the Cabra and north inner city areas.
- Cormac Looney and Gerard Couzens