Gardaí were tonight investigating a possible drugs link to the murder of a father-of-one who was shot dead in north Dublin a year and a half after a friend disappeared.
James Purdue, 22, was gunned down as he returned to the apartment where his girlfriend and three-year-old daughter lived at the Grattan Wood complex on Hole-in-the-Wall Road, Donaghmede early this morning.
Purdue, of Belcamp Camp Avenue, Priorswood, died after being rushed to Beaumont Hospital – the sixth murder victim in the Coolock area and the country’s 26th violent death this year.
Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy visited Coolock Garda Station this afternoon for a briefing on the latest killing.
Superintendent Noel McLoughlin, who is heading up the murder investigation, said Purdue had connections to the drugs trade.
“The deceased would be known to the Gardaí and he would have associates in the drug trade so we would feel that there would be some connection,” he said.
“However, we haven’t determined that as of yet, it’s too early in the investigation.”
Supt McLoughlin said Purdue was friends with Patrick Lawlor who has not been seen since he left his home in Darndale in December 2004.
“We have been actively searching for Patrick Lawlor since his disappearance and we have carried out a search about 10 days ago in the Coolock area for Patrick Lawlor,” he said.
“The deceased in this murder this morning was a friend of Patrick Lawlor’s so somebody out there has information, not alone in relation to the murder this morning but also in relation to Patrick Lawlor’s disappearance on December 16, 2004.”
However, Supt McLoughlin said he didn’t feel there was a connection between this morning’s murder and Patrick Lawlor’s disappearance.
Supt McLoughlin said gardaí believed the getaway vehicle was a large black car and he appealed for witnesses to the attack which took place around 1.15am.
“We’re satisfied that the gunman ran towards a black car with alloy wheels which was parked near the entrance to the apartment,” he said.
“There would be a lot of traffic in the area between 12.30 and 1.30am this morning so I’m appealing to people in the taxi industry, of course also the residents of the apartment block, there are approximately 200 apartments in this complex, I’d ask them to come forward and to talk to us at Coolock (Garda Station) also.”
Supt McLoughlin said he was concerned that the latest murder was the sixth in the area in the last six months.
“It’s a worrying trend for ourselves, the Garda Siochana, but also for the community, a very vibrant community in the Coolock area, and it’s very disturbing that we have so many murders in the area,” he said.
“We’re working very hard to solve them all.
“We’ve had six since February – we’ve had one fatal stabbing and then we’ve had five shootings. But we have all separate investigations, we’re working with national units in all these investigations and we’re making progress in every one of them.
“We feel that none of the murders are connected and they are all separate investigations.”
Fine Gael Justice Spokesman Jim O’Keeffe called on Justice Minister Michael McDowell to give a status report on the Garda gangland crime unit set up late last year.
“The murder rate in this one area has reached epidemic proportions,” he said.
“Dublin is awash with handguns which can be bought for as little as €220, and can be rented out for an even lower rate. When weapons are so easily available there has clearly bee a breakdown of law & order.”
Labour Dublin North East TD Tommy Broughan said criminal gunmen appear to be able to act with impunity across the city with no fear of getting caught.
“It is clear that the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell and his predecessors have absolutely failed in one of their most central duties to tackle the criminal gangs that are increasingly plaguing our society and ensure the safety of citizens on our streets,” he added.