Thursday, 22 July 2010

Gardaí target up to 15 criminal gangs

Irish Times

Irish Times
Gardaí are targeting up to 15 major criminal gangs around the country, it emerged today.
With a string of shootings across the capital in the past four weeks, Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy insisted officers were working to bring leading gangsters to justice.
“There are up to 12 major files in relation to major criminal gangs with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP),” the commissioner said.
“There are prosecutions in two of those already and as I speak members of my force are putting together more files, getting the evidence with these files to the DPP, with a view to prosecution.”
Speaking at a Garda graduation ceremony in Templemore, Co Tipperary, Mr Murphy said detectives were tackling gangs nationwide.
“We are talking about 14 to 15 significant gangs,” he added.
There have been 17 gun murders so far this year, with a spate of killings in Dublin in recent weeks.
The Corbally brothers, Paul and Kenneth, were shot in a double murder in Neilstown in late June, Colm Owens was gunned down at an industrial estate in Finglas on July 9th and suspected killer Stephen “Madzer” Byrne was shot dead in the north inner city last Tuesday.
Labour justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte said gangsters needed to be brought before the courts as soon as possible.
“It was 13 months ago that the Minister for Justice promised when he brought in the legislation for the Special Criminal Court for these type of cases to be tried there.
“And 13 months later not a single case has yet come before a jury-less court.
“It is disappointing — one would have thought we would see the cases beginning to appear by now.”

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Man shot dead in Dublin city

Irish Times
A man has been shot dead near a school in Dublin's north inner city.
A Garda spokesman confirmed the incident at about 4.45pm at Sheriff Street.
The victim, understood to be in his 30s, was taken to the nearby Mater hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The scene has been sealed off and Gardaí have appealed for witnesses to contact them.
The murder is believed to be related to an ongoing feud in the area.
Fine Gael’s justice spokesman Alan Shatter said the murder showed Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has failed in his efforts to tackle gangland violence.
“I deplore the fact that gangland’s lethal campaign has been allowed to continue,” Mr Shatter said. “Innocent lives continue to be placed at risk, and the number of murderous assaults are escalating at an alarming rate.
Christy Burke, a long-serving councillor in the north inner city, said: “It’s appalling that there’s been another tragedy, another murder, on the streets of Dublin in broad daylight where there is a Garda presence because of feuding gangs and another family has to bury a loved one.”
It is understood a crowd of local residents confronted gardaí after they arrived at the scene.
The area has seen round-the-clock armed Garda patrols on narrow streets a stone’s throw from the International Financial Services Centre for several years.
They were introduced to stop a bloody feud between two major crime factions in the Sheriff Street area.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Double murder carried out with stolen PSNI gun

Sunday Tribune

Mick McCaffrey, Security Editor
The scene at Dubber Cross in Finglas following the shooting of Colm Owens on Friday
Paul Corbally: shot dead in Clondalkin last month
Kenneth Corbally: shot dead in Clondalkin last month
1 2 3 One of the guns used in the gangland murders of two Dublin brothers two weeks ago was stolen from a PSNI officer, the Sunday Tribune has learned.
It is understood that a 9mm semi-automatic pistol that was found in the burnt-out wreckage of the getaway car that was used in the murder has been ballistically traced back to the PSNI.
Garda detectives are still liaising with their PSNI colleagues but it is understood that the weapon was stolen from an off-duty member of the force in the recent past.
It was one of 10 official firearms stolen from the PSNI/RUC since 1997. A spokesman for the PSNI declined to comment and directed all queries to the gardaí.
Garda sources say it is likely that the firearm was stolen from the PSNI member and sold to criminal gangs who in turn sold it to a west Dublin-based gang because it had no history of use in the south, which makes it extremely valuable.
It is understood that this is the first occasion where an official police firearm that has been stolen has been used in a murder and both gardaí and the PSNI are extremely concerned about the development.
Paul Corbally (35) and his 32-year-old brother Ken were shot dead on 28 June as they drove a Lexus on the Neilstown Road in Clondalkin.
More than 20 shots were pumped into the car and the two men died instantly. A 14-year-old boy who was sitting in the back of the car was injured and taken to hospital.
The PSNI gun was found in an Audi A6 that was found burnt out in Lucan just minutes after the double murder. The getaway car had been fitted with a false taxi plate so it would not draw attention from gardaí or members of the public.
The Corbally brothers were well known to gardaí as members of a west Dublin gang involved in drug dealing and armed robberies. They became involved in a dispute with a rival Ballyfermot gang which culminated in the murder of an English criminal outside a pub in Ballyfermot last September following a mass brawl. This led to a series of tit-for-tat incidents prior to the brothers' murders, including a murder attempt on the rival gang boss.
July 11, 2010

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Gardaí investigate Finglas murder

Irish Times

CONOR LALLY, Crime Correspondent, and EOIN BURKE-KENNEDY
Gardaí are today carrying out house-to-house inquiries into the fatal shooting yesterday of a man in Finglas, Dublin.
The dead man, Colm Owens (34), of Dunsoughly, Finglas, Dublin, had no convictions for serious crime but was a known associate of some of Dublin’s most notorious gangland figures.
The Republic’s 16th gun murder of the year, he was wounded up to six times in the head and upper body by two men who crashed their getaway car and later abandoned it without burning it out.
He was a friend of Finglas gang leader Eamon Dunne, who was shot dead in a Dublin pub in April.
Mr Owens was also linked to one of two drug and armed robbery gangs based in Ballyfermot, Dublin, whose worsening feud claimed the lives of Kenneth and Paul Corbally in a gun attack last Monday week.
Gardaí are studying Mr Owens’s links to these figures in an effort to determine a possible motive for yesterday’s murder. They are particularly anxious to determine if it is in any way linked to the Ballyfermot feud as a possible revenge attack for the Corbally murders.
Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said there was “always a worry of tit-for-tat killings”.
He said while any link between yesterday’s murder and earlier fatal gun attacks had yet to be established, a heavy overt Garda presence was needed to frustrate gangs. “I would favour that, in-your-face policing, which has been working well in Limerick.”
As well as Mr Owens’s links to gangland criminals, detectives are also studying his personal life to determine if he was involved in any disputes that could have led to his murder.
The father of one and part-time taxi driver, whose partner died six months ago, was gunned down at work at about 12.10pm yesterday.
A masked gunman walked into the Corn Store, an animal feed warehouse, on the Grove Industrial Estate at Dubber Lane, Finglas, and singled Mr Owens out, discharging a large number of shots from a handgun.
A number of the dead man’s colleagues are believed to have witnessed the murder.
A getaway vehicle, a silver Audi A4, was driven by a second man and crashed into a number of other cars on Tolka Valley Road not far from the murder scene as it sped away. The men abandoned the 08 D-registered car on Carrigallen Road in Finglas South before fleeing on foot.
The killers, who gardaí believe panicked because patrol cars were pouring into the area, did not burn out the getaway car.
Gardaí are hopeful the vehicle will yield vital forensic evidence that could help solve the crime.
At a briefing in Finglas Garda station yesterday, gardaí­ said the getaway car travelled in the direction of Jamestown Road before turning on to the main Finglas dual-carriageway, and was heading in the direction of the Clearwater shopping centre.
Supt Dave Dowling, who is leading the murder investigation, said there were no reported injuries when the car collided with two other vehicles at the Tolka Valley Road junction. He confirmed local people saw two masked men running from the car.
State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy carried out an examination of Mr Owens’s remains at the scene. The body was then removed for a postmortem, which was due to be carried out this morning.
Labour’s justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte said the killing once again showed the “viciousness” of the criminal gangs that were operating in our society.
“We know from previous experience that a murder like this is likely to set off another vicious round of tit-for-tat killings and there is a danger that, once again, innocent people will be caught in the crossfire.”
The industrial estate where the shooting took place was sealed off yesterday afternoon as members of the Garda Technical Bureau carried out a forensic examination.
Apart from the animal feed outlet where the victim worked, the remote industrial estate contains three other businesses, including a Fás-funded youth training centre.
A number of students from Finglas Community Training Centre were emerging from classes at the time of the shooting but left via a back entrance, away from the murder scene.
The centre’s manager, Conor Sludds, was horrified by the attack. He said the area was normally so quiet and out of the way that most people had difficulty finding it.
“I’m from Finglas and I’m aware of the gang situation, but when something like this happens 20 yards from where you’re sitting it makes you wonder about your own safety and the safety of others like the students.”

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Brothers' killing ordered by Dublin drug dealer

Sunday Tribune

Ali Bracken
TWO brothers shot dead last week in a gangland feud were murdered on the orders of a Ballyfermot drug dealer after they slashed the throat and ear of one of the dealer's closest associates last April, it is understood.
The funerals of Ken Corbally (32) and his brother Paul (35) took place at St Michael's church in Ballyfermot yesterday. The brothers were the second and third victims of the Ballyfermot feud. They attacked a senior member of the Ballyfermot drug dealer's gang; the man barely survived when the brothers slashed his throat and ear.
"They effectively signed their own death warrants when they did that. They knew their lives were in danger," said a source.
The Corbally brothers attacked the man in retaliation for the murder of British criminal Jason Lee Martin (39) with whom they were aligned. He was stabbed to death in a 20-man brawl outside a pub in Dublin last September over a drugs dispute.
Over 20 people have been arrested over the fatal stabbing, including a League of Ireland soccer player.
July 4, 2010

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The end of two lives of crime

Irish Times

The scene of the Corbally brothers' shooting on Neilstown Road. Photograph: Bryan O'BrienIn this section »
A tide in the affairs of Inis MeáinWhy we pay so much more for groceriesThis week’s fatal shootings of Kenneth and Paul Corbally ended two crime careers, and underlined the many challenges facing Ballyfermot, writes CONOR LALLY
THE KILLING OF Kenneth and Paul Corbally was carried out with savage efficiency last Monday. The brothers, from Ballyfermot in west Dublin, were sitting in their parked car on Neilstown Road in Clondalkin, with a 14-year-old boy in the back seat, when a car rammed into them. Two masked men armed with semi-automatic handguns got out of the car, which had been stolen, and fired into the Corballys’ car, hitting the brothers in the head and upper body.
The boy was hit three times in the arm and chest. He managed to scramble from the vehicle and has been under armed guard in hospital all week amid reports of threats on his life because he witnessed the shooting and could be in a position to give evidence in court.
Almost immediately after news of the killings broke, former drug-dealing associates of the Corbally brothers emerged as the chief suspects.
In recent years the brothers and a number of other drug dealers from Ballyfermot and neighbouring Clondalkin had split from an organised crime gang they had been aligned to in Ballyfermot. Last September members of both factions clashed in a Ballyfermot pub car park when a group of at least 20 fought with knives, broken bottles, glasses and a hatchet. One man was killed.
A few months ago the Corballys stabbed a member of the rival faction, though he survived. In April the brothers tried to shoot dead the faction’s leader, but he escaped.
Garda sources familiar with the gang rivalry said even before these incidents that tensions had been increasing because, in the recession-hit drugs world, competition for drug-dealing turf is more intense than ever.
The dead men were the only boys in a family of five children reared in a local-authority house on Drumfinn Avenue, off Ballyfermot Road, where their parents still live. Paul (35) was married and had at least one child, a baby girl. Kenneth (32) was also a father and is believed to have been in a long-term relationship. Both brothers had been living between Ballyfermot and Clondalkin in recent years.
A group of the dead brothers’ associates gathered outside the house this week to warn journalists off approaching the family. One journalist who called to leave a letter for the Corballys requesting an interview was assaulted by those outside. Others were met with aggression and verbal abuse.
Ballyfermot residents who know the family say they could never remember either Paul or Kenneth having a job. “They used to fix cars and I think sell cars out of the house, but they never had what you’d call a normal job,” says one local woman.
Another resident described Mrs Corbally and her three daughters as “great girls”. But the dead brothers and their father, Patrick, seemed to generate more fear than respect.
Patrick Corbally (56) was sentenced to seven years in prison in 1999 for possession of a machine gun with intent to endanger life, after a man who had gone to collect a car at the Corbally family home was shot by Kenneth while his brother Paul joined the attack using an iron bar. Kenneth was never charged for this, and his few convictions were for minor matters.
The court was told that, despite being unemployed, Patrick Corbally had an affluent lifestyle. Like his two sons he was on unemployment benefit, yet they had two new pick-up trucks and a new car at their house at the time. In January 2002 Paul Corbally was jailed for five years after taking part in a 1997 armed robbery during which a garage owner was rammed in his car in Clondalkin and relieved of more than €3,000.
At that time Paul Corbally had numerous convictions, dating back to 1994, for larceny, public order and assault. He was before the courts again in 2001 after a large piece of a double-barrel shotgun was found down his trousers when gardaí stopped their car near Lucan. He and Kenneth were wearing fake beards, and gardaí found a balaclava, hairpieces and a bottle of stage make-up glue in the car. Paul Corbally was cleared of possessing a component of a gun on a technicality: that the handle of a gun was not central to its discharge.
Garda sources say the brothers were originally members of a west Dublin group known as the M50 gang, which carried out robberies in Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary and elsewhere. The gang was known for breaking into houses to steal legally held shotguns. “They’d have no problem roughing up old people who got in the way. They were particularly violent,” says one Garda source.
They also ram-raided and robbed warehouses where high-value resalable goods, such as cigarettes and alcohol, were stored.
In recent years the Corballys had graduated to a significant level of drug dealing in west Dublin. In April one of their fellow gang members, Michael Byrne, a 36-year-old from Old Tower, in Clondalkin, was jailed for 18 years after being caught in possession of heroin worth €6.2 million in 2008.
The man who leads the faction believed to have carried out the Corballys’ killing is a notorious gang leader from Ballyfermot. He has been involved in serious gangland crime since the mid-1990s, when he had links to some members of the John Gilligan gang. A number of men who remain his close associates were jailed for possessing drugs worth hundreds of thousands of euro in the early 1990s, when such large seizures were less frequent. As well as drug dealing, he has been involved in money lending, extortion and money laundering. He has at least 15 convictions.
Senior gardaí fear Monday’s double killing will prove the first chapter in a tit-for-tat murderous feud. Despite its drug problem, unlike other parts of west and southwest Dublin, Ballyfermot has featured infrequently in media coverage of gang violence. “They mightn’t have been shooting each other much up till now, but there’s plenty of people on drugs,” said one local pensioner.
ON THE SURFACE Ballyfermot seems to have done well from the boom. At the centre of the village is the new Ballyfermot Civic Centre, which runs all of Dublin City Council’s services for Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard. It houses a library and a theatre, which hosted Riverdance last year. Nearby, the new Ballyfermot Leisure Centre houses a 25m pool, six five-a-side all-weather football pitches and a gym. Cherry Orchard Equine Centre, just beside Ballyfermot, is one of the biggest facilities of its kind in Europe, and the area also boasts the Ballyfermot College of Further Education.
But despite these facilities, research prepared for Dublin City Council paints a grim picture of the area, with all seven of its local electoral divisions classified as disadvantaged or extremely disadvantaged. One of the areas, Kylemore, recorded the lowest level of disadvantage possible, while the other six areas recorded the second-lowest score possible.
Just over half of the young people in the Ballyfermot area leave school before the Leaving cert, the second worst record in Dublin. And research carried out in 2007 by the local Ballyfermot Partnership community project revealed the number of young people from the area attending third level reduced between 2002 and 2007, from 6.5 per cent to just 4 per cent. The national average is 23 per cent.
The research notes: “Ballyfermot is essentially a working-class area characterised by extreme deprivation, high unemployment, low incomes and relatively large numbers of lone parents.” Vincent Jackson, an Independent councillor, says the facilities the area has gained in the past decade are the envy of other working-class communities and are reaching many at-risk children, as well as disadvantaged families. But what worries him most is the rising unemployment rate. In 2006, he says, there were just over 800 long-term unemployed in Ballyfermot but there are now just under 3,400, in an area with a total population of just under 21,000.
He is also fearful of the attitude of some locals towards Monday’s killings. “There’s a perception that if a person gets shot who has been involved in crime, then somehow those lives are expendable. But we shouldn’t stoop to that lowest common denominator; it will only lead to more violence.” Jackson says the fact that Monday’s attack happened in Clondalkin rather than Ballyfermot, even though the victims and suspected killers are all from Ballyfermot and deal drugs there, lessened the impact for those in his community.
Fr Seamus Ryan, the parish priest at St Matthew’s Church, where the funeral Mass of the two Corballys is due to be concelebrated this morning, says Ballyfermot has changed during his 18 years there.
“Living conditions have definitely improved. The appearance of the place is far better, and things such as joyriding, which was a massive problem, have gone. But the drugs are all around; that’s the difference. The fear in Ballyfermot is not of gangs; it’s parents worrying their kids will end up on drugs.”
Just off Ballyfermot Road, which runs through the village, is the Base, a new €7 million facility for at-risk young people. It provides a range of health-related and legal services to young people referred by the Probation Service, the Garda, the HSE, the Department of Education, local schools and parent . It also has a creche where young parents can leave their children while they focus on staying in school or addressing personal issues such as drug addiction. The Base also provides a cafe and pool room, computer rooms and recording studios.
One worker says those employed in the centre are frustrated by the lack of support from the Government. “Most of the money for the facilities you see around here came from the EU because it designated Ballyfermot as a black spot,” says another. “A lot of the kids are into cannabis and alcohol in terms of consumption, and cocaine and heroin for selling; some are runners for gangs, bringing drugs from A to B for them. For us it’s obviously about trying to prevent them getting wrapped up in drugs, either ending up strung out or in a gang.”
Others say successive governments have been too short term in their thinking and constantly try to address complex social issues via the criminal justice response of more investment in the Garda and prisons. “If you get the kids young, invest in them now, you can steer a lot of them away from crime, keep them in school. It can definitely be done.”

Policing efforts stepped up in west Dublin

Irish Times

GARDA PATROLS backed by the Emergency Response Unit are being stepped up in west Dublin amid fears that the double murder of the Corbally brothers on Monday night will lead a protracted gun feud.
A similar high-visibility policing operation to that introduced in Coolock, north Dublin, at the start of the year, following a number of murders in that area, is now being rolled out in Ballyfermot, west Dublin, where the murdered brothers were from.
The Garda believe the Corballys were shot dead by a rival drug gang from the Ballyfermot area and are now fearful of revenge gun attacks.
The policing operation being introduced will consist of rolling Garda checkpoints manned by uniformed gardaí supported by members of the Emergency Response Unit.
Members of the two gangs involved in the feud that claimed the lives of the Corballys are also being put under closer surveillance. The Garda helicopter will also fly much more regularly over Ballyfermot, checking for unusual vehicle movements.
Garda sources said the checkpoints, during which motorists will be spoken to by gardaí and some cars will be searched, will frustrate gangs in moving guns and drugs around. The other measures would offer reassurance to the public that the gangs were being met head-on.
Kenneth (32) and Paul (35) Corbally were gunned down as they sat in their car on Neilstown Road, Clondalkin, west Dublin, at 8pm on Monday. A 14-year-old boy who was sitting in the back of the car at the time was wounded in the arm and upper body and is recovering in hospital. Gardaí have already spoken to his family about their security amid concerns they may be threatened by those behind the killing not to let their son give any information about the double murder to gardaí.
The Corbally faction and the rival grouping have been in direct competition in the west Dublin drug trade.
Last year, tensions erupted into a major gang brawl outside a pub in which one man died. Earlier this year, the Corbally faction stabbed one of the rival gang, who survived the attack.
Just weeks ago, the Corbally faction tried to kill a leading member of the rival gang but he managed to flee uninjured.
Garda sources said detectives in west Dublin were aware of plans being made by both factions to kill their rivals. The Corbally brothers, originally from Drumfinn Avenue, Ballyfermot, were warned by gardaí several times that their lives were in danger.
Senior gardaí now fear that the killing of both brothers on Monday night by two gunmen, who used machine-gun-style weapons, will tip what was an increasingly violent row into a gangland gun feud.