By Cormac O’Keeffe
Gardaí are gathering DNA samples to determine if dismembered body parts found in a Dublin suburb on Monday night are those of a teenager under threat from drug bosses.
It is understood that intelligence was received by gardaí that a missing 17-year-old, from Drogheda, Co Louth, would be abducted, murdered, and his body dismembered.
The discovery, described by a senior garda as “absolutely gruesome”, came hours after an innocent taxi driver was shot in his car on the Bridge of Peace in Drogheda in an attack targeting his front-seat passenger, a leading figure in the town’s gang feud.
The two incidents are not believed to be directly linked but appear to involve drug gangs active in the Louth/north Dublin area. There are close links between gangs in Drogheda and ones in Coolock, north Dublin
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan described the discovery of the dismembered remains as a “depraved act of violence”.
The remains, understood to be parts of four limbs, were found in a bag on a footpath in Moatview Gardens, Coolock.
It is understood a group of teenagers found the bag and saw the body parts.
The area was sealed off by gardaí and a protective tent erected over the bag, pending a detailed examination yesterday by the Garda Technical Bureau and Forensic Science Ireland.
Searches were under way for the head and torso.
One security source said that if the body parts found were those of the missing teenager, it marked a “ramping up” in the savagery of drug gangs.
The teenager is considered to be a minor player in the drugs trade.
He was last seen at around tea-time on Sunday in Drogheda and his family had appealed for sightings of him.
Intelligence had been received by gardaí that a threat had been made to kidnap the teenager and kill him and that his body parts would be found in a bag.
Gardaí said while this was a “strong” line of inquiry, they were keeping an open mind and had to await the autopsy and results of DNA tests.
DNA samples from the remains will be checked against records. Gardaí will then seek DNA samples from personal items of the teenager, such as toothbrushes, hairbrushes, and clothes.
DNA samples will also be taken from the family members to compare against the DNA from the remains.
The autopsy will also look for marks that might identify the victim, including tattoos, birthmarks, or scars, and check these with relatives of missing persons.
In relation to the Drogheda shooting, gardaí said it was “pure luck” the driver was not killed when a masked gunman targeted his passenger on the Bridge of Peace, near the garda station, at 6.20pm on Monday.
The target, a senior figure in the Drogheda feud, escaped unharmed as did his girlfriend, who was in the back seat of the taxi.
The driver, John Myles, was hit once in the back, but the bullet exited without causing significant injury.
In an interview on LMFM, he said:
The bullet went in and out, luckily enough it didn’t lodge in the back, if it had gone further I would have been paralysed for the rest of my life.
“If I hadn’t turned I would have been killed, my kids would have been planning my funeral.”
He said pedestrians on the foot path and motorists in other cars nearby at the time could have been hit as well.
Mr Myles asked how much more was going to happen before the gangs “end up killing a child”.
He said he was going to bring his daughter out with him on Monday night.
“She could have been in the back of that car, that’s in my head the whole time,” he said.
Coolock Garda Station 01 6664200; Garda Confidential Line 1800 666111