Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Editorial: A new low even for gangland

Irish Herald

Tuesday July 14 2009
IT is a new low, even for criminals who have shown they have no respect for the living. The defilement of the body of David Byrne, the prisoner who died after an assault in Mountjoy Jail, is truly shocking.
Someone wrote "rat" on his forehead as his grieving relatives prepared to bury him.
Even in the worst conflict situations, burying the dead with dignity is generally observed by all sides. It is a long-held tenet that the deceased are at least entitled to the burial rites a civilised society deems appropriate. In Ireland, that usually means a hallowed ritual which goes some way towards helping the bereaved cope with their loss.
The mind which is capable of interfering with a man's body lying in repose is almost beyond comprehension.
We have seen all too graphically in recent days that criminals and drug gangs are ready to kill innocents. Now it seems even the dead are not safe from their evil.

Gang deface body in funeral home
By Ian Mallon, Cormac Murphy and Conor Feehan
Tuesday July 14 2009
THE BODY of a man who died following a prison attack has been desecrated in a Dublin funeral home.
The word 'RATS' was scrawled on David Byrne's forehead in the shocking incident at the premises on Amiens Street.
Marker was also scrawled around both his eyes in the attack believed to be linked to a north inner city feud.
The feud – between members of the gang led by jailed criminal Christy Griffin and a group of rivals – has raged for three years and has led to the deaths of two men and grenade and gun attacks in the north inner city.
Mr Byrne has been linked to the gang opposing Griffin and is related to Gerard ‘Batt’ Byrne – gunned down in the feud in December 2006.
Officers are now investigating whether his death is connected to events on the outside in the north inner city. Mr Byrne (26), a father of one from Sheriff Street, died after being beaten over the head with a sock stuffed with batteries in Mountjoy Jail on June 9.
He had been on a life support machine in Beaumont Hospital since the day after the attack. His body was vandalised in Jennings Funeral Home yesterday, only hours before the removal to St Laurence O' Toole's Church in nearby Seville Place.
David Byrne’s family today confirmed that the desecration of their son and brother’s body had taken place while his remains were on display for mourners, and that the words ‘rats’ and ‘I’m not gone’ were written across his face.
“It was written on his forehead and across his face. It was a terrible thing,” said a tearful female family member. “It was written in red pen.” David Byrne’s brother, Stephen Byrne, described the act as “cowardly” and said it was a deed perpetrated to get back at his family by a member of a gang in the area.
“There are senior gardai dealing with this who told us they have never seen anything so depraved in their lives,” said Mr Byrne.
“They say there was no CCTV covering it, but there might be cameras across the road at other shops that might have spotted people going in and out,” he added.
“My parents are in bits over this. It’s disgusting what happened.” Local councillor Christy Burke (Ind) said he has never heard of a similar incident in his life before.
“It’s the lowest of the low,” he told the Herald today. A source at Jennings would only say “there was a bit of hassle” before the removal.
However, he stressed there was “no problem at all” with the removal itself and it “went off very well”.
Mr Byrne, a convicted car thief, was assaulted by a fellow prisoner following a row over a TV remote control, it is believed.
He was taken to hospital after the attack but discharged himself later that evening. However, the following morning, after staff were unable to wake him, he was rushed back to hospital.
His condition deteriorated and he died just over three weeks later. Mr Byrne is survived by his parents Margaret and Noelie, his brothers Jason, Stephen, Owen and Eamon and sisters Shauna and Tracy. He is also survived by son David and partner Brigid.
- Ian Mallon, Cormac Murphy and Conor Feehan

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