Sunday, 13 December 2009

Peace brokered in Sheriff Street gangland feud

Sunday Tribune

Ali Bracken, Crime Correspondent
Stephen Ledden
Anthony Russell
Christy Griffin
1 2 3 A tentative peace deal has been brokered between factions feuding on Sheriff Street in Dublin's north inner city.
Three people have been killed so far in the gangland dispute, which has its roots in a series of rapes by paedophile gang boss Christy Griffin of his partner's young daughter.
Gangland boss Griffin (38), of Ridgewood Green in Swords, and formerly of Canon Lillis Avenue in Dublin 1, was handed down a life sentence in 2007 for the rapes.
When the allegation emerged five years ago, Griffin's armed robbery and drug-dealing gang fell apart. Some of his henchmen remained loyal to him but others were appalled by the rape and formed their own faction in opposition to the Griffin gang.
Gardaí maintain a 24-hour presence in Sheriff Street because of tensions, but were recently informed that the two opposing factions have agreed to end their attacks against each other. The two groups refused to sit down together but intermediaries brokered the deal, it is understood.
Detectives offered two years ago to mediate, but this was refused.
A senior source said gardaí welcomed the development but warned that the "slightest thing" could reignite the situation.
With members of the opposing groups all being former associates, the level of animosity has been particularly fierce. There are no plans to reduce garda patrols in the area.
The last serious incident directly related to the feud was in January when gardaí foiled a murder attempt on an associate of Griffin's.
Two men with a loaded weapon were lying in wait in a stolen car for their intended victim to return to his home at Riverside Park in Clonshaugh, on the north side of the city, when they were intercepted by unarmed gardaí.
The feud began in October 2005 when shots were fired into Griffin's home in Swords, wounding him in the arm. Ensuing drive-by gun attacks saw Griffin's rape victim's home being shot at.
In November 2006, a hand grenade was thrown into Griffin's home and exploded.
Another grenade was then thrown into a relative's house, but failed to detonate. In December 2006, as Griffin's trial for rape approached, two men lost their lives in a fortnight.
Gerard Batt-Byrne (25) of Ferryman's Crossing, Dublin 1, was shot dead in the IFSC on 13 December. He was a rival of Griffin's.
The Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and other armed gardaí were called into the area around Sheriff Street and the IFSC to deter further attacks.
Two weeks later a gunman crept into a house on Oriel Street and shot Stephen Ledden (28) in the head as he lay on a sofa. He was shot by mistake by a killer targeting another man thought to be behind Batt-Byrne's murder.
Griffin's sentence of life imprisonment the following month did not calm the situation.
In April 2008, Anthony Russell (30), of Cromcastle Drive, Kilmore, was gunned down as he sat drinking with friends in the Ardlea Inn, Artane.
Russell was close to Griffin and was believed to have been involved in the killing of Gerard Batt-Byrne.
December 13, 2009

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