A man shot dead in broad daylight was a key suspect in the killing of a 17-year-old boy who was tortured and decapitated.
The Dublin gangster is believed to have ordered the brutal Narcos-style slaying of Keane Mulready Woods.
The teenager was abducted in Drogheda, Ireland, and taken to a house where he was tortured, killed and dismembered.
Now the key suspect in the case has been shot dead in north Belfast, the Irish Mirror reports.
The unnamed criminal was shot multiple times and pronounced dead at the scene. A burned-out car was found nearby.
The notorious gangster is said to be well known to detectives for his involvement in serious and organised crime.
It’s understood he is a senior figure in one of Ireland’s feuding criminal gangs.
Keane’s arms and legs were dumped in a holdall bag near a rival gangster’s home in north Dublin on the night of January 13.
His head and hands were discovered in a burning car several miles away two days later.
The brutal killing shocked the nation and led to a public outcry, with thousands taking to the streets for a peace rally in Mulready Woods’ Co Louth home town of Drogheda.
Yesterday’s shooting was the latest cold-blooded slaying as feuding gangs in the town continue to wreak havoc.
The dead man, in his 30s, was heavily involved in organised crime for over a decade.
Police believe he may have travelled from his home in Co Meath to Belfast intent on collecting a debt in the hours before being shot dead.
As well as being a suspect for ordering the murder of Mulready Woods, the victim was also a key suspect for a number of other gangland killings.
He faced serious criminal charges last year but was not convicted. He had been warned his life was in danger and threatened by feud rivals.
He was also in dispute with another Dublin gangland figure who has been linked to several murders including that of former dissident Republican leader Alan Ryan.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said on Saturday evening that three men have been arrested on suspicion of murder.
They were last night being questioned by detectives. Earlier, Det Supt Jason Murphy said he was “astounded by the recklessness of the killer or killers”.
He added: “Not only did they carry out this callous murder, leaving a family experiencing their worst nightmare, but they did not care that children and other members of this North Belfast community were placed at risk.
“Murder is a heinous crime and killing someone during this global coronavirus pandemic is sickening when people are trying to adjust to living a new way and trying to cope with the pressures this brings.
“Those involved selfishly gave no thought to the impact on front-line emergency services who are already working hard to keep people safe with an already stretched resource.”
Det Supt Murphy said it was too early to speculate on the motive and he was following “a number of lines of inquiry”.
He added: “A light-coloured car, registration YLZ 7052, was found burned out in nearby Kingston Court and I am currently seeking to establish what relevance this car has to my investigation.
“I know the community is in shock but I would appeal to anyone who has information to bring that forward to the police.
“I am aware the area was busy with pedestrians and people out in their front gardens, so I am asking anyone who may have captured any footage of the incident to please make that available to us.
“I have activated the Major Incident Public Portal which can be accessed at mipp. police.uk
“The investigation team can be contacted by calling 101, quoting reference 562 of April 4.”
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the killing was “an abhorrent and brutal crime for which there is no excuse”.
There was a heavy police presence in the area on Saturday afternoon, with lines of Land Rovers sealing off both ends of the street.
Mr Lewis added: “This type of justice is never, and will never, be a substitute for policing and the force of law.
“This cowardly act is particularly thoughtless at a time when our front-line emergency services are already working incredibly hard to keep us all safe.
“I strongly encourage anyone who has information about this despicable crime to come forward and speak to the PSNI.”