26 May 2022

Man living in Longford to be sentenced for his part in plan to kill gangland criminal

Man living in Longford to be sentenced for his part in plan to kill gangland criminal

Man living in Longford to be sentenced for his part in plan to kill gangland criminal

Gangland criminal Wayne Whelan previously ran a car sales business with one of the men who conspired to murder him, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

The defendant and three others will be sentenced in September for their involvement in the attempt on the life of Whelan in a 2019 shooting in west Dublin.

Wayne Ryan (41) with an address at Lanna Aoibhann, St Michael's Road in Longford, but originally from Limerick, has pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Whelan (42) at Griffeen Glen Park, Lucan, on September 4, 2019.

Three Dublin men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder the father-of-three at that location between May 15 and November 15 2019.

They are Cailean Crawford (25), of Clifden Terrace, Ballyfermot; Darren Henderson (31), the father of a new-born baby, of Cleggan Avenue, Ballyfermot; and Charles McClean (32) of St Mark’s Drive, Clondalkin.

McClean and Whelan had previously been partners in a car sales business, but it had ceased trading in 2016.

All four were originally charged with the attempted murder of Whelan and were due to stand trial together on June 21 last, but all entered pleas before the Central Criminal Court the previous month. 

Whelan, who survived the attack, was shot a number of times in his body, head and arms while sitting in his car in the estate where he lived in Lucan. 

However, the Clondalkin native was subsequently shot dead in a car two months later on November 18, 2019. The vehicle was then set on fire with his remains inside at Mount Andrew Rise in Lucan; his body was identified using DNA analysis.

Whelan, originally from Rowlagh in Clondalkin, was well known to the gardai for his involvement in serious and organised crime for more than two decades. 

Detective Superintendent Mark O’Neill today (Monday) told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, that Whelan had spent the morning of 4th Sept 2019 at his parents’ house, where he was described by his mother as being in good form.

He left to return to his own house, not that far away, around lunchtime. As he drove into his estate, his path was blocked by a white Volkswagen Caddy van. A gunman alighted and fired 11 shots at Whelan as he sat in the driver’s seat. He was struck by four of them.

Whelan managed to get out of his car and attract the attention of neighbours, one of whom brought him into the neighbour’s house. Whelan was described as panicking, said that he had been shot and sent for his wife.

Gardai arrived and found the hallway of Whelan’s neighbour’s house covered in blood.

Whelan told gardai that both the van’s driver and the passenger, who had shot him, were wearing balaclavas.

He was sitting at the bottom of the stairs, his clothes soaking in blood, and became weak when he tried to stand.

Gardai got him to lie on floor while they awaited the arrival of the paramedics, who took him to hospital.

Four bullet fragments were removed from his arms and chest wall.

A technical examination of the scene found 11 bullet holes in his windscreen, 11 discharged bullet cases and the bullet fragments from seven bullets.

The white Caddy was set alight a few minutes later and was examined by gardai. A badly fire-damaged handgun was recovered inside, along with the associated magazine and the remains of a silencer.

Another car was noticed on fire in Bray soon afterwards, with a third vehicle going up in flames in Kilcock that evening. Gardai saw a man move from the area of the 3rd burning car and jump into an Opel insignia, which they then followed and stopped shortly before Leixlip.

The four accused men were inside. A petrol can containing diesel oil was found in the boot, and all four were arrested on suspicion of arson.

Fingerprints found on the petrol can matched those of Cailean Crawford, while samples of firearms residue were found on Ryan’s clothing. Comparisons between this residue and the discharged cartridges found at the scene offered ‘extremely strong support’ for the view that Ryan had discharged the shots.

CCTV of the accused men’s movements was studied. This and other evidence showed that seven cars had been acquired in preparation for the shooting, six of which were registered in false names and addresses.

Mobile phone evidence from a fortnight before the shooting showed that Ryan had sent a text to his partner to say he’d “rather be home than doing homework on some boll*x”. He was staying in McClean’s house at the time.

A letter sent to McClean from Ryan in prison was also read into evidence.

“Everything is cool,” he wrote. “I’m a soldier mate and If I fall, I’ll fall alone… We’ll ride it out mate… Keep the head up. Your friend and brother, Wayne.”

The court heard that Ryan had 46  previous convictions, including for unlawful possession of a firearm, assault causing harm, robbery, possession of an article with intent to cause injury and burglary.

McClean had 16 previous convictions, including for the sale and supply of drugs, burglary and production of an article in a dispute.

He had known Whelan growing up.

Henderson had 14 less serious previous convictions. He had been running his own business as a courier at the time and his partner had given birth to a new-born baby since he went into custody.

Crawford had no previous convictions and had lived with his father and brothers at the time.

Mr Hayes said that Mr Whelan’s family, who were in court, did not want to give a victim impact statement. However, they said that the events of 4th September 2019 had a large impact on them, particularly in the context where he and Mr McClean had known each other for a significant period of time and had run a business together.

Mr Justice White remanded the four men in custody until 2nd September for sentencing.

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