Thursday January 08 2009
A DRUGS LORD lay dead and two more men clung to life by a thread in one of the bloodiest nights in Dublin gangland.
Heroin trafficker Michael 'Roly' Cronin (pictured left) was ambushed in central Dublin last night by a pal.
While Roly sat in the front seat of a Volvo chatting, the friend pulled a semi automatic handgun and shot him in the back of the head.
Elsewhere, recently released prisoner John Paul Brennan was shot in the head in an unrelated murder attempt in Kinsealy, Co Dublin.
The wounded man had only left jail yesterday morning.
In the city centre meanwhile, Roly Cronin's killer also pumped at least one more round into the head of his driver.
The driver of the car is not expected to survive and was on a life support machine for organ donation.
The assassin was their pal and struck while seated in the back of the UK-registered car at Summerhill in the north inner city.
Cronin (34) controlled the supply of drugs to the areas of Finglas, Ballymun and the north inner city.
Detectives said the gunman callously fired a bullet into the back of Cronin's head before firing a second round at the drug dealer's driver, who was critically injured.
"This is one of the most cold-blooded killings we've seen in years. Roly must have known his killer and would have suspected nothing," a source said today.
Officers believe that a number of criminals from the Finglas area, who attempted to murder Cronin in the past, were behind the killing.
They believe that Cronin and his associate were lured to the scene only a few hundred yards from the capital's O'Connell St.
In another separate shooting, John paul Brennan was shot at least twice at Drynam Drive in Swords -- on his first day of freedom after serving a prison sentence.
He is in a serious condition in hospital.
The murder victim, Cronin, a known drug dealer , originally from Ballymun but living in Finglas was almost certainly gunned down by someone he knew -- a rear seat passenger in their Northern Ireland registered Volvo.
The two front seat occupants were sitting targets for the hit man, who opened fire as the car drove off in Summerhill.
It crashed immediately into a central median.
The gunman then ran from the car, through Gloucester Place and the Diamond, making good his escape -- but he left the murder weapon behind.
Gardai were called to what was initially believed to be a traffic accident and discovered the wounded men.
A pistol was understood to have been recovered at the scene.
Gardai hope the gun, along with forensics from the car and the adjacent area, will prove invaluable in the investigation.
A routine examination of all CCTV systems in the vicinity was under way today as gardai from Fitzgibbon Street and other stations carried out house to house enquiries.
Cronin, who escaped uninjured in a previous hooting in Glasnevin in late November, was dead on admission to the Mater Hospital.
His associate was still clinging to life today on a life support machine.
Both were reported to have been shot in the head, indicating that the hitman was intent on murder and was taking no chances that that the two "targets" may have been wearing bullet proof vests.
Today the scene of the shooting which took place at 8.40pm last night at Langrishe Place, Summerhill, was still sealed off.
Cronin was one of the biggest drug dealers in Dublin, and was released from prison in 2004 after serving a 10-year sentence for drugs offences.
He was an associate of slain gang boss Marlo Hyland, and gardai believe he may have plotted with others to murder Hyland in 2006.
He was also a gun for hire, and is believed to have been behind an attack on another man, Jeffrey Finnegan, on a laneway in Cabra in 2006.
FInnegan survived and is not a suspect for last night's murder.
The Swords shooting took place at 10.30pm, John Paul Brennan was cornered in his girlfriend's home in Drynam Drive, Swords, and shot at least twice in the neck and leg.
An off-duty fireman out walking his dog gave the man first aid at the scene.
The victim's girlfriend and a child were in the house when the gunman struck.
It is not believed there was any connection between the two meticulously planned attacks.