By Charlie Mallon and Cormac Looney
Friday February 20 2009
GARDAI believe ‘Champagne’ Johnny Carroll was murdered after he had an affair with the girlfriend of an INLA man.
The 33 year old drug dealer, who was gunned down in a contract killing on Wednesday night, is believed to have been targeted on the orders of the jealous partner of the woman.
The man was said to be so incensed when he heard of his partner’s infidelities that he ordered the assassination of Carroll.
The chief suspects for the shooting are fringe members of the Dublin brigade of the INLA, and the hitman involved was behind another shooting in the Tallaght area 18 months ago, gardai believe.
Officers are today hunting the gunman, as they prepare to swoop on members of hardline Republican group. A source said: “Initially we believed this was over drug dealing, but it now looks to be an old fashioned one - a murder over a woman.”
“The word is Champagne Johnny was suspected of having an affair with the partner of a longtime INLA member. This man supposedly went mad when he heard about it and decided to kill Carroll in revenge," the source added.
“He wouldn’t be the most senior in the INLA but he’d have a fair amount of pull. The suspects are on the fringes of that group.
“The suspected gunman in the attack is known to us, and we believe he carried out a shooting in Tallaght back in 2007,” the source said.
It also emerged today that Carroll spent the hours before his death socialising in another bar in the South Circular Road area.
Gardai believe that the men who murdered Carroll were monitoring him as he drank in the bar, and were notified when he left the premises around an hour before his death, to |travel to Grumpy Jacks |bar in the Coombe.
Officers are now trying to trace everyone who was in the South Circular Road pub, amid suspicions that Carroll’s killers may have had people sitting in the bar, or parked outside, watching him, who then made a phone call to their associates.
Their target travelled from the South Circular Road to the Coombe, where he socialised with two friends, one of whom is a regular in Grumpy Jacks and lives close to the pub.
Gardai believe that the gang watched him enter the bar and may have sent in an associate to pinpoint where he was sitting in the pub.
Minutes later, a man wearing a motorcycle helmet and a balaclava walked into the premises and fired a number of shots at Carroll, fatally wounding him.
He died at St James’s Hospital less than two hours later.
Gardai are now examining contacts Carroll had with criminals in the days before his death. They will also speak to the two pals who were with him in the bar as he was shot. They are not suspected of any involvement in the murder plot.
One of these is a 25-year-old man from the Coombe. The second man, of Italian descent, lives in the Crumlin area but regularly socialises in the Coombe.
Despite having no convictions, married father of three Carroll was involved with a Coolock drugs gang.
One of his Coolock associates arrived at St James’s Hospital minutes before Carroll died, in a distressed state.
Carroll had been targeted by officers from Kevin Street, and the Garda National Drugs Unit, over his suspected role in importing heroin to Ireland in horse boxes. According to local sources, he earned his nickname ‘Champagne’ because of the high quality of cocaine he supplied to users.
- Charlie Mallon and Cormac Looney