Detectives are thought to be hunting a ‘psychopathic’ hitman who killed and dismembered a 17-year-old Irish boy as part of a years-long feud between two rival drugs gangs.
Teenager Keane Mulready-Woods is thought to have been killed at a house in the town of Drogheda overnight Sunday before his body parts were dumped in two areas around Dublin late Monday and early Wednesday as a warning to others.
Investigators are believed to be working on the theory that Mr Mulready-Woods was murdered in revenge for the gangland slaying of Richie Carberry in November last year, the Irish Independent reports.
Keane Mulready-Woods, 17, went missing on Sunday in the town of Drogheda before his body parts were found dumped at two locations in Dublin late Monday and early Wednesday
A burning car with the teen’s severed head in the boot was discovered at 1.30am Wednesday in the Drumcondra area of Dublin
Carberry, 39, was shot multiple times as he closed the gate outside his home in Bettystown, County Meath, having survived a previous hit in March.
Police are investigating the possibility that Mr Mulready-Woods was murdered because he had links to Carberry’s killers.
The main suspect is reported to be a notorious 35-year-old north Dublin hitman, described as a ‘psychopath’ and a ‘serial killer’ by officers.
It is thought that the gang responsible for killing Carberry had also made threats against youngsters, prompting the hitman to target a teenager in return.
Violence between the two Drogheda drugs gangs has been steadily escalating since July 2018, when a dealer was shot and paralysed in the town.
Police are working on the theory that a ‘psychopathic’ 35-year-old hitman killed Mulready-Woods in revenge for the fatal shooting of Richie Carberry in November
That was followed by a series of non-fatal shootings, petrol bombings, and beatings spread across Meath and Louth counties before the fatal shooting of Carberry.
Mr Mulready-Woods’ killing marks a significant escalation in violence, which shows no sign of abating despite extra police resources allocated to tackle it.
A taxi driver who is thought to have been carrying a well-known gang member in the front seat of his car was shot around 6.20pm in Drogheda – just hours before Mr Mulready-Woods’s remains were discovered.
While the passenger is known to be linked to the drugs feud, it is unclear whether the shooting was directly related to Mr Mulready-Woods’s murder.
A video showing a man dressed in a balaclava and threatening to kill the hitman has also appeared online, the Independent reported.
The person in the video is believed to be the son of another murder victim.
Meanwhile a house in Drogheda where Mr Mulready-Woods is thought to have been killed remained taped off on Thursday as forensic examinations continued.
The property has been declared a crime scene and blood has been found inside, the Irish Times reports.
Officers believe Mr Mulready-Woods was taken to the house and attacked there, with his body parts then dumped in public as a warning to other gangsters.
The boy’s limbs were found inside a black Puma sports bag dumped in the Coolock area of Dublin around 10pm Monday. Children found the bag.
The discovery was made a short time after police received intelligence that Mr Mulready-Woods had been murdered.
Fire crews were then called to reports of a burning vehicle in the Drumcondra area of Dublin around 1.30am Wednesday, and found more body parts inside.
It is thought the teenager’s severed head was found in the boot of the car, which was recognisable because it had been left untouched during the murder.
DNA tests subsequently confirmed that the limbs belonged to Mr Mulready-Woods, and while additional tests on the remains in the car have yet to come back, there is little doubt they belong to the teenager.
As tests confirmed Mr Mulready-Woods had been murdered, a Garda spokesman said: ‘Keane is a 17-year-old juvenile, he disappeared on Sunday, January 12 and parts of his remains have now been discovered.
‘This is a brutal and savage attack on a child and is completely unacceptable in any normal democratic society.
‘The level of violence is shocking and the investigation into the murder of Keane is being co-ordinated from Drogheda Garda Station.
Limbs found stuffed into a black Puma sports bag in the Coolock area of Dublin (scene, pictured) have been confirmed as belonging to Mulready-Woods
Police believe Mulready-Woods was taken to a house in Drogehda overnight Sunday where he was murdered before his dismembered body was dumped in public ‘as a warning’
‘It is important to remember that Keane was a child, a young boy, trying to find his way in life, he has now lost his life and his family have lost their loved son and brother.’
When last seen by his family in Drogheda, Co Louth – approximately 30 miles from where his body parts were found – he was wearing a navy Hugo Boss tracksuit, black Hugo Boss runners, a red Canada Goose jacket and a Gucci baseball cap.
Garda Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said: ‘An Garda Siochana is determined to bring those behind this shocking crime to justice.
‘In recent years An Garda Siochana has made significant progress in tackling organised crime through arrests leading to convictions and major seizures of guns, drugs and cash.
‘This focus will continue. As always, the help and support of communities is vital to this.’
Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe said: ‘I want to acknowledge that within my own constituency I do have experience of the cycle of terror, of the cycle of fear that organised crime can bring.
‘This is the reason why minister Charlie Flanagan has ensured we are recruiting 700 gardai per year and it’s the reason we’ve resourced the armed emergency unit to make sure they have the capacity to respond back to organised crime.
‘In my own constituency of Dublin Central, we have seen the ability of those kinds of changes, combined with community investment, to deal with the kind of terror.’
Fianna Fail deputy leader Dara Calleary described it as a massive human tragedy.
‘It is true to say that this is not just one area,’ he added.
‘When you reduce investment in programmes such as the urban renewal project you take away opportunities from people.
‘The garda drug units across the country will tell you they do not have enough (gardai).’
Pipe bombs, hatchet attacks and shootings in broad daylight: How a spiralling feud between drugs gangs has consumed an Irish town
Richie Carberry, who was shot dead in November last year as part of the escalating Drogheda drug war
The town of Drogheda, on the east coast of Ireland, is one of the oldest in the country – known in the past for its Gothic churches and ruined abbeys.
But in recent years it has become notorious for a turf war which has claimed the lives of three people, left one paralysed, and seen scores of arson attacks and attempted bombings that has left its 41,000 residents living in fear.
Straddling the River Boyne, with a port leading on to the Irish Sea, and located along the Belfast-Dublin corridor just 30 miles north of the Irish capital – Drogheda has proved fertile territory for two drugs gangs who are willing to fight to the death for control of it.
The current cycle of violence began in July 2018 with the attempted slaying of Owen Maguire outside his house in the town.
Maguire was shot at least six times – in the stomach, shoulder and both wrists – with one bullet lodging in his spine, leaving him paralysed.
Magurie was well-known to police and a known associate of Cornelius Price, believed to be the head of one of the gangs involved in the feud.
The shooting sparked a series of tit-for-tat attacks that saw at least two homes petrol-bombed and viable pipe bombs found inside properties.
A spate of violence in November 2018 saw six attacks in just 24 hours, including a 20-year-old who was kidnapped and stabbed.
Police found him with more than a dozen wounds to his face, neck and chest in the bathtub of a home during a raid.
Another 18-year-old was also attacked with a hatchet.
In February the following year, a man was shot in broad daylight as he sat in his car at a retail park in the city.
A series of low-level attacks dramatically escalated to murder in August 2019 when a key figure on one side of the feud, who had been living away from the area, returned to involve himself in the fighting.
Keith Branigan, 29, was shot dead at a caravan park in Clogherhead seven miles north of Drogheda – marking the first fatality in 13 months of attacks.
That was followed in November 2019 by the fatal shooting of Richie Carberry.
Carberry, a well-known drug runner who had reportedly been involved in the trade for a decade, was gunned down as he closed the front gate outside his home in Bettystown.
He had recently purchased a flight to Manchester, and was thought to be moving there having survived another attempted hit in March.
Then, on Sunday this week, 17-year-old Keane Mulready-Woods was murdered in what is thought to be revenge for Carberry’s killing.
The shocking level of violence – which saw the youngster beheaded and dismembered – marks a new low in the conflict.
His death was followed rapidly by another shooting, which involved a known drugs gang member in Drogheda, and which saw an innocent taxi driver hurt.
It is not known whether the shooting – which occurred at 6.20pm Monday just hours before Mulready-Woods’s body parts were found – was directly related to his death, but it appears the violence in Drogheda is far from over.