Friday, 8 May 2009

Victim of gangland shooting warned his life was in danger

Victim of gangland shooting warned his life was in danger

By Tom Brady and Shane Phelan

Friday May 08 2009

A man, shot dead in a hail of bullets at his apartment block in north Dublin early yesterday, had been warned by gardai earlier this year that his life was in danger.

It was the second time that he had been the victim of a gun attack in six weeks.

The dead man was named last night as John Clarke (21), of Brookwood Abbey, Brookwood Grove, near Gracefield Avenue in Artane.

He was shot several times in the chest as the gunman fired an estimated 15 shots into his car while Clarke drove into the underground car park at the apartment complex around 3am.

His friends, Glen Larkin and Michael McCabe, were also hit as they sat in the car with Clarke but were not seriously injured.

One was struck in the hand and the other in the neck and were being treated last night at Beaumont Hospital.


In 1995 Clarke's father, John Clarke senior, was jailed for six years after he pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Glen Larkin senior, father of the youth who was injured in yesterday's attack.

The two sons later became firm friends.

Gardai are satisfied that Clarke was murdered as a result of a row with others involved in the drugs trade in north Dublin.

But they admitted they were checking on a wide range of theories to establish a motive and pinpoint a chief suspect for the shooting.

Detectives think the gunman and an accomplice were probably waiting inside the car park to ambush Clarke rather than following him home.

Clarke had been out with his two friends watching the Champions League tie between Chelsea and Barcelona on TV on Wednesday night. The gunman struck as the group arrived in the car park in their 7 series BMW car.

Gardai have established that the security barrier at the entrance to the car park had been damaged about a week earlier and this made it easier for the killer to gain access.

Detectives believe the gunman used a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, such as a Glock, and emptied a clip as he riddled the car with bullets.

The getaway car, a silver 5-series northern registered BMW, was found burnt out in a laneway, off Mount Prospect Drive in Clontarf. Gardai were making checks last night to establish if the BMW had been stolen as local officers and members of the national bureau of criminal investigation held a case conference at Coolock station.

Supt Mark Curran appealed to members of the public, who either live near Mount Prospect Drive or the apartment block, or who might have passed by either of the two locations after 2am yesterday, to come forward if they noticed anything suspicious.

Gardai said that, despite his young age, Clarke had built up a long list of enemies. One of the theories being checked out was whether the Clarke murder was linked to the fatal shooting of David Lynch in Coolock in March.

The night before that attack Clarke had been shot in the leg during an incident involving members of the gangs involved in a long-running drugs feud in Coolock.

Lynch was suspected of being involved in Clarke's shooting.

Clarke lived with his partner and a six-month-old baby in the Artane apartment block. He had appeared in court over 40 times and had a number of minor convictions.

His last appearance in court was on Wednesday. He was fined €200 at Dublin District Court for unlawful possession of drugs in Swords, Co Dublin, on January 18, 2008.

- Tom Brady and Shane Phelan

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