Recreational drug users should be left in “no doubt” that they are supporting gangs that prey on children and murder people, leading experts have said.
Responding to the murder and dismemberment of 17-year-old Keane Mulready-Woods, they also highlighted the need for intensive intervention with teenagers engaged in the drugs trade, saying there is a “dearth” of such projects.
One such ground-breaking initiative, due to be piloted this year, will target 20 to 30 children and their families in two communities with the aim of pulling them out of criminal networks and thereby helping to “dismantle” drug gangs.
The developments come as gardaí appealed for information on the movements of a blue Volvo S40, registration 161 D 48646, which was stolen in Sandymount, Co Dublin, on December 15.
It was recovered partially burnt out on January 15, bearing false registration plates 141 MO 1925. Gardaí want to know where the registration plates were made.
A Garda spokesman added that the Volvo had four matching alloy wheels when stolen, one wheel has been changed, and gardaí want to speak to anybody who may have information about that.
Gardaí are also appealing for information about the clothes Mr Mulready-Woods was wearing when last seen alive.
The clothing — a navy Hugo Boss tracksuit, black Hugo Boss runners (brown sole, black laces), orange/red Canada Goose jacket, and a Gucci baseball cap — has still not been recovered.
Meanwhile, experts will today continue a fourth day of forensic examination at a house and associated sheds in a Drogheda estate.
Officers suspect the location — linked to a senior figure in one of the town’s feuding gangs — is where Keane was murdered and dismembered.
Gardaí suspect a notorious hitman from Coolock, north Dublin, who is associated with this gang, was involved in the murder.
Adding further trauma to Keane’s family, graphic videos and photographs have been circulating on social media purporting to capture the murder and its aftermath along with warnings.
Gardaí have appealed to people not to circulate the images, and said the videos were not of the teenager’s murder.
Eddie D’Arcy, a youth worker for almost 40 years in Dublin, yesterday said: “We need to highlight to all those who purchase drugs — whether it is weed or cocaine — that you are purchasing from the same people who are carrying out hits and murders.”
Describing the murder as “absolutely shocking”, he added: “You might think the guy you are getting your cocaine off at the weekend might seem OK, but the supply line goes back to a core drug gang.”
Seán Redmond of the University of Limerick school of law, who leads the ground-breaking Greentown research project into children and criminal networks, said: “People who buy cocaine need to feel uncomfortable about what they are doing.
People should be in no doubt that in order to get the wrap of cocaine you are supporting an industry that exploits children. We need to make people very conscious of that.
He said people give out about “scumbags” acting in a certain way, then snort lines of cocaine at the weekend.
“There has been talk of making people aware, but not a concerted campaign,” he said, adding that people should realise the drug gang leaders supplying their cocaine engage in “predatory behaviour” by grooming children into their criminal networks.
Mr D’Arcy said what is needed is “identifying young people in communities caught up in the drugs trade and intensifying resources for those people”.
He said while there are projects aimed at children at risk of getting involved, there is a “dearth” of programmes for those already engaged in serious offending in adult gangs.
However, he said that to get them to give up the lifestyle — as seen with Mr Mulready-Woods’s high-end clothing — the State needs to “offer them something in its place”, including jobs.
Meanwhile, Judge James McNulty, sitting at Bandon District Court yesterday, said: “It is increasingly difficult to accept that the use or possession of cocaine falls within the terms of the trivial nature of the offence.”
Judge McNulty referred to a recent case where “a parade of graduates and aspiring professionals” appeared before him for cocaine possession relating to their attendance at the Kinsale Sevens rugby event, and that he was “astounded” by the details of the offending, which he said had taken place in broad daylight.
He said that this was done “openly, shamelessly, and in public” by those “who have placed their career and travel prospects at risk”.