Cold-blooded, well planned: a gangland-style shooting

THE murder of Eric Cummins was cold-blooded and well planned, depressingly familiar on the streets of Dublin and Limerick, but rarely seen in Cork.

A handgun, carefully kept a distance away from where the killer and the driver of the getaway car were sitting in wait, was used in the execution.

When Cummins, with his partner Michelle Cunningham and 18-month-old child, approached their home at Oldcourt in Ballincollig, the gunman struck.

He stepped out of the car parked in the nearby Fernwalk Estate, collected the handgun from bushes, approached the house and fired at least two shots in to the 31-year-old, one to the chest and one to the head.

It was a classic gangland- style execution. However, the car used by the killers was recovered, which may provide investigators with vital forensic evidence, even though it had been set alight.

One senior officer close to the investigation was quick to dismiss speculation that this murder heralds the beginning of a deadly gangland culture in Cork city and outskirts, where in 2003 there was only one murder and one manslaughter, both of females.

"It was an isolated incident. There's definitely not an upsurge in gangland activity," the officer said.

Cummins, a plasterer by trade, was known to the gardaí. He is believed to have been involved in the drugs trade and had connections with Limerick criminals, known for their use of firearms.

While Cork has remained mercifully free of violent gangs, one anti-drugs activist in the city warned the upsurge in the use of cocaine may fuel violent clashes as individuals and groups vie for a slice of the lucrative trade.

Already this year, there have been several significant seizures of cocaine in Cork.

Apart from his suspected involvement in drug dealing, Cummins, originally from the Lough area of Cork city, was charged with the September 2002 shooting of a then 25-year-old man.

Teddy Nagle, from Ballyphehane, was struck once in the side of the stomach but a potentially fatal second shot missed him.

The day after the shooting, Cummins's van was torched. He left his Lough home shortly after, not returning to Cork until charged in connection with the shooting in October 2003.

Cummins was charged with assault causing harm and firearms offences.

When the case came to trial, the injured party did not turn up and the charges were dropped.

Earlier, Cummins escaped a prison term after being convicted of the serious assault on a man on Oliver Plunkett St.

He smashed a glass in his face but was given a six-year suspended sentenced after compensation was paid to the victim.

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