Gardaí consider drug debt motive in murder

Gangland murder victim Eric Fowler was under pressure to pay a drug debt and had separately ordered a local criminal to pay a debt owed to him.

Gardaí consider drug debt motive in murder

Gangland murder victim Eric Fowler was under pressure to pay a drug debt and had separately ordered a local criminal to pay a debt owed to him.

Detectives are investigating both of these as possible motives for the shooting dead of the 34-year-old father just days before Christmas.

Officers said it would be a “big thing” for a local criminal to murder Fowler knowing his associations with the Kinahan crime cartel.

Fowler is closely linked to an individual considered to have been the “contact man” for the Kinahan cartel in assisting Estonian hitman Imre Arakas, who was hired to assassinate a Hutch target in April 2017.

Sources said the cartel is “going to great lengths” to find out who is behind Fowler’s murder, with the cartel believing the Hutch crime gang was responsible.

Detectives are also examining if the Hutch group carried it out, but are wondering why the contact man was not targeted, given he was in the locality at the time.

Sources have said they did not suspect it was an internal “clear out” operation by the cartel.

It is understood detectives are also investigating a possible personal motive, based on a threat that had been issued by a person known to the victim.

Just before 7pm on December 22, Fowler arrived at his home in Blanchardstown, west Dublin. While he was closing his gate, a gunman approached and opened fire. Fowler ran down the driveway and was chased, and between five and six shots hit him in the upper body and neck.

Gardaí have gathered CCTV footage which shows a driver of a two-man hit team in his car waiting for Fowler to arrive home. The gunman was hiding nearby. Neither the gunman nor the driver was masked.

Sources said a local motive may be behind the killing.

“Eric owed money and was owed money,” said a source. “He had heat coming on him to pay up and he was putting heat on others to pay up.”

Sources said it would be “a big thing” for a local criminal to kill him given the likelihood of reprisals.

“The Kinahans are going to great lengths to find out who did it,” said the source. “They believe it was the Hutches.”

In a separate investigation, into a serious assault of a 20-year-old in Lucan, west Dublin, on Friday night, three males (one adult and two juveniles) have presented themselves to gardaí.

The injured party, from Ballyfermot, is in a critical, but stable, condition in hospital. He had received a couple of blows, which, because of an existing head injury he had, resulted in significant injury.

Gardaí are investigating events that the adult and juveniles claim preceded the altercation that took place.

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