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Dublin: 11 °C Sunday 7 June, 2020

Brian Rattigan: The jailed Crumlin-Drimnagh feud leader still suspected of directing drug trade from jail

Rattigan successfully appealed against a 2001 murder conviction yesterday.

Stock photo of a heroin seizure in Dublin in 2008.
Stock photo of a heroin seizure in Dublin in 2008.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

YESTERDAY MORNING, GANGLAND figure Brian Rattigan won his Supreme Court appeal against the 2001 murder of Declan Gavin.

Gavin was stabbed to death outside an Abrakebabra fast food restaurant in Crumlin.

The chief suspect: Brian Rattigan – a man whose drug dealing exploits in Dublin’s south inner city had brought him to the attention of gardaí.

Gavin’s murder was the first of the so-called Crumlin-Drimnagh feud – a gang war which, beginning in 2001, claimed the lives of 16 people over eight years .

A year earlier in 2000, an incident happened which split Rattigan’s Dublin gang into two warring factions – one controlled by Rattigan and the other which would effectively merge with other Crumlin-based criminals to form the Kinahan cartel’s south inner city suppliers.

In March 2000 Gavin and two of his associates were in the process of cutting 2kgs of cocaine in a city centre hotel when it was raided by gardaí.

As Gavin had stepped out of the room moments before gardaí entered, he was not charged with any offence. However, Rattigan and other members of the gang became suspicious that Gavin was a garda informant and had gained immunity from prosecution because of this.

In August of the following year, Brian Rattigan was celebrating his brother’s birthday at a house in Drimnagh.

A court would later hear that Rattigan had been told Gavin was outside a fast food takeaway nearby. A masked man approached Gavin and stabbed him in the heart before leaving in a getaway car.

Eight years later, Brian Rattigan was eventually charged with the murder and he was handed the mandatory life sentence in 2009 – a conviction he successfully appealed yesterday.

Supreme Court judge Iseult O’Malley described how comments made by the trial judge in 2009 during the proceedings could have influenced the jury.

In the majority judgement yesterday morning, she said that there was a “real possibility” that the trial judge could have moved the jury to convict Rattigan rather than acquit.

The judgement read: “I have come to the conclusion that the comments of the trial judge in this case went further than were desirable, that there is a real possibility that they may have been seen as reflecting his personal opinions and that they may well have influenced the members of the jury in their view of the defence case.”

The case will be before the courts again in the new year to hear if the Director of Public Prosecutions thinks a retrial should be held.

Rattigan is still behind bars, however.

In 2013, he was convicted of running a heroin operation from his prison cell. For this, he received a 17 year sentence. Garda detectives still believe that Rattigan is orchestrating multi million euro drug deals while in prison. He has also found himself at the centre of a garda probe called Operation Respite – which has so far this year resulted in a number of cash seizures and seizures of documents.

Rattigan’s associates have, in recent months, been behind a significant number of drugs currently flooding the south inner city.

While cocaine has been difficult to source since the arrest of a number of senior suppliers in South America, Rattigan’s associates are now feared to be moving significant quantities of heroin and cannabis supplied by criminal outfits in Spain and the UK – which were the main suppliers of Irish drugs at the turn of the century.

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Gardaí discovered in 2008 that Rattigan was running his criminal operation while he was an inmate at Portlaoise prison, using a mobile phone. Detectives first became aware of his heroin dealing activity when gardaí searched a premises in Walkinstown, Dublin in 2008.

A number of items were recovered including a quantity of heroin worth €1 million, several telephones, SIM cards and around €36,000 in cash.

On a Nokia mobile found in the shed of the premises, a text message which appeared to be a direction for the break up of a large amount of drugs into portions was discovered. The message appeared to have been sent from a phone with a number that gardaí were aware was associated with the accused, who at the time was a prisoner at Portlaoise.

Gardaí then raided Rattigan’s cell where he was found on his bed with a mobile phone in his hand. Rattigan threw it out the door but it was recovered along with two SIM cards. A search of the cell uncovered a Samsung mobile, another SIM card and some notebooks, one of which contained a “tick list” with names and numbers.

The messages were sent between Rattigan and his associates, named as “Dicko”, “Parro”, “Ganko” and “Lips” and referred to the “dark”, or heroin, as well as giving orders for where it should go. The last text to “Lips” read “Get rid of ur phones quick”, as it appeared Rattigan became aware that a connection may have been made by gardaí between the phones found in the house and his number.

With reporting by Michelle Hennessy

Read: Heroin dealer Brian Rattigan wins Supreme Court appeal over the murder of Declan Gavin >

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