Gangland murders in Dublin (1990-94)
(Regarding crime and Dublin, the blog has previously looked at 18th century gang violence; joy-riding in Dublin from 1918-39; War of Independence bank-robberies; the 1920s ‘Sons of Dawn‘ who were rounded up by the IRA; the life of career criminal Henchico who died in 1968; ‘Animal Gang’ violence in 1942; vigilante violence in Dublin (1970 – 1984); the Bugsy Malone gangs of the 1970s and Triad gang violence in 1979)
This is the second article looking at gangland murders in Dublin that occurred in the decades leading up to the killing of crime boss Martin Cahill (‘The General’) in Aug. 1994 by the Provisional IRA. The last piece looked at 13 deaths related to organised crime and Dublin’s underworld in the 1979-89 period. Now we explore seven killings that took place from 1990 up until the summer of 1994. I don’t think I will go beyond this point as the gangland murders in the post Cahill years after have been documented to some degree in this blog and in different newspaper articles (1 2) available online. It’s worth noting of course that the number of gangland killings in Ireland increased heavily from the early 1990s onwards from 3 in 1993, to 10 in 1999, 20 in 2003 and then peaking at 22 in 2009. There were 10 last year in 2019.
Of the seven murders in the 1990-94 period, the attacks occurred in the South Inner City (The Coombe), the North Inner City (Stoneybatter) and suburbs in the west (Blanchardstown) and north (Finglas, Marino, Darndale). One took place during a football match in the Phoenix Park. The youngest victim was 20 and the oldest was 54. What is striking is the average age was 39 – much older than the targets in today’s gangland feuds.
The death of Sonny Mooney was the only case that didn’t involve firearms. It was not strictly a gangland feud hit as he died of injuries received in a personal revenge attack but the media emphasised the tragedy that four young Finglas men – Brian Chaney (Sep. 1988), Thomas Boulger (March 1990), Willie Christie (Sep. 1990) and Sonny Mooney (Oct. 1990) – died violently in a very short time period.
Brian Chaney was the only individual who did not seem to have a criminal record or have connections to organised crime, it appears that he was gunned down for being a suspected child molester. The hit was professional and organised crime was linked.
As I said in the first piece, these articles do not seek to eulogise anyone but instead explore Dublin’s criminal underworld of 30-40 years ago. It maps stories of old Dublin – flat complexes that have been torn down, pubs that have been redeveloped and the names of many young men all but forgotten except for family and close friends. But it sadly also illustrates that many of the same impoverished working-class areas affected by gun violence in the 1970s and 1980s are still some of the same neighbourhoods hit hardest today.
The list does not include:
- police officers, security guards or civilians killed by criminals during robberies or other incidents
- victims of internal feuds or suspected informers killed by Republican paramilitaries
As always, if there’s any corrections or cases I’ve missed – please email me or leave a comment.
Updated Google Map with all cases from 1978-1994:
8 Sep. 1990 – William Christie (Willie Christie) (27)
Father of two William Christie (27), of 12 Barry Drive, Finglas, was described in the press as a small-time criminal and cannabis dealer. He led a “small gang” that robbed “factories and post offices” according to sources quoted in the Sunday Tribune (21. Oct. 1990).
Christie had been arrested and charged with the murder of Brian Chaney (see part one) but was released – after four months in custody – when the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) dropped the charge due to a lack of evidence.
On 8 Sep. 1990, Christie was playing in goal for Dublin United F.C. in a football game against Park View Celtic in the Leinster Junior League. The match took place at a pitch in the Fifteen Acres, near St. Mary’s Hospital, in the Phoenix Park. Christie was substituted at half-time and was watching the second half of the match when, at 4.30pm, two men approached from behind. The hitman, who was wearing a balaclava, shot Christie four times in the back of the head with a .38 handgun. He passed the weapon to his accomplice who packed it away into a sports bag. Both men jogged in the direction of the Chapelizod entrance to the park where the police believed they had parked their getaway vehicle.
One of the football spectators owned a mobile phone (relatively rare at the time) and rushed to his car to ring the Gardaí and who were on the scene within minutes. Christie was taken to Blanchardstown Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5.15pm.
It was originally suggested in the media that the killing was in revenge for the murder of Brian Chaney two years previously but this was quickly discounted by both the authorities and the Chaney family including Brian’s brother Tom Chaney who spoke to the Sunday Tribune (15 Sep. 1990).
Two theories about the killing emerged. The first, as reported in the Sunday Tribune (21 Oct. 1990), was that Christie had been shot dead by the Provisional IRA after he had publicly threatened a local member of the Republican movement in Finglas. However it was mentioned in the same article that a possible suspect, a Finglas man with Republican connections, had denied any involvement and claimed that Christie actually had Republican sympathies. Speculation remained about the Provisional IRA’s possible involvement and it was repeated in the Irish Independent (20 Aug. 1992) who said that Christie had become “tangled” into a dispute with “associates of the IRA” in Finglas and so had “been earmarked as a target”.
The second theory is that Christie was killed by a criminal gang. The Sunday World (30 Dec. 1990) suggested that Christie was killed under orders of a “major crime boss” who hired a professional hitman, possibly from England, to carry out the job. The Sunday Tribune (13 Oct. 1991) later proposed that a “senior IPLO figure” and hitman with links to criminality was paid by a Dublin gang to kill Christie. The Irish Press (18 Jan. 1993) referred to the suspected involvement of a “Dublin heroin dealer” in the attack. Nobody was ever charged or convicted.
In July 1991, William’s brother Peter Christie (26) was sentenced to two years imprisonment for his involvement in a house robbery in Ashbourne. On 8 Nov. 1993, as reported in the press, he was abducted from his girlfriend’s house in Valeview Crescent, Finglas by eight men and found severely beaten behind a Ballymun tower block.
8 Oct. 1990 – Sonny Mooney (20)
Sonny Mooney was born in 1970 to a black father and a white Irish mother. His mother married John Mooney in 1973 and the family moved to Kippure Park, Finglas in 1975 where Sonny was raised by John as one of his own children. A friend, who knew Mooney from growing up, remembered him as the “only black kid in Finglas South” and that he “hung around with us when we were young” rude boys (ska/reggae fans) for a time. A “likeable fella” but he “fell in with the wrong crowd”.
Mooney’s parents told the Sunday Tribune (19 May. 1991) that their son had been a “target of racial abuse” from a young age which had turned him into a “tough” kid and a capable street fighter by his late teens. He was described by police as a petty criminal with convictions for stealing cars and being drunk and disorderly.
On 3 March 1990, his sister’s boyfriend Thomas Boulger (‘Bullit’) (20) got into an altercation with Richard Groves (17) at a local disco. Groves kept a horse on waste ground and blamed Boulger for mistreating the animal. On the night of the incident, Groves stated that he was headbutted by Boulger and then was attacked by him again on his way home. He returned to the scene with a knife and clashed again with Boulger who armed himself with a pole. Boulger was stabbed five times and died of his injuries. Groves was convicted of manslaughter and received a five year suspended sentence.
In Sep. 1990 or thereabouts, Sonny Mooney got into a serious brawl outside a Finglas pub with a man named Stephen Kennedy. Mooney came out on top and won the fight. Another local Finglas man Seamus Duffy, whose sister was in a relationship with Kennedy, vowed to get ‘even’ with Mooney. Duffy worked as a bouncer in the city centre for a number of different nightclubs and fast food restaurants. He enlisted the help of five other bouncers he knew from this line of work for the revenge attack.
On 8 Oct. 1990 at 10pm, six masked men forced their way into the home of Sonny Mooney (20) in Kippure Park, Finglas. They beat him with pick-axe handles in front of his family and bundled him into a blue Hiace van which was later found burnt out. The gang transferred him into a different vehicle and drove towards the Southside. They left the badly wounded Mooney at Ballymount Lane at the junction of Ballymount Road and Greenhills Road near Tallaght. One of the group made an anonymous phone call to the police around 11.30pm and Mooney was found unresponsive by Gardaí. He had died from his injuries. The culprits later claimed that they hadn’t meant to kill Mooney.
Six men were arrested, charged with manslaughter and convicted of the killing:
- Seamus Duffy (24), Donomore Crescent, Killarnden, Tallaght – six years imprisonment
- Derek B. (23), Lower Oriel Street, D1 – four years imprisonment
- David G. (20), Bracken Drive, Portmarnock – four years imprisonment
- William D. (22), St. Mark’s Grove, Clondalkin – four years imprisonment
- Emmet R. (19), Ballycurris Road, Ballymun – four years imprisonment
- David M. (24), Foyle Road, Fairview – 30 months imprisonment (false imprisonment)
The death caused further tension and it was reported in the Sunday Tribune (19 May. 1991) that one of those convicted, David B., was attacked in Mountjoy Prison by an inmate who was friends with Sonny Mooney.
20 Dec. 1991 – Patrick McDonald (‘Teasy-Weasy’) (41)
Patrick McDonald, of Newry, Co. Down, was a member of the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) in the mid 1970s. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment for an armed robbery but whether he served the time is unclear as the Irish Independent (21 Dec. 1991) stated that he went on the run in 1975.
A hairdresser by trade, he was called ‘Teasy Weasy‘ after the 1950s London hairdressing icon Raymond Bessone.
In the early 1980s, McDonald ran a hair salon in Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan and lived in a house on Muckno Street with another INLA man Daniel Hamill (Danny Hamill) (‘The Rabbit’) from Portadown. In 1980, McDonald was charged with demanding £67,000 by menace from Neil Halpin, Monasterboice, Co. Louth and for assaulting Thomas Rooney, Haggardstown, Co. Louth over two separate days in early Jan. of that year. The state dropped the charges and McDonald avoided conviction.
On 13 July 1981, a cattle dealer named Maurice Wilson was driving from Co. Monaghan to his home in Co. Armagh when he came across a border post on fire near Carna, Co. Armagh. He was flagged down by two armed men – Patrick McDonald and Daniel Hamill – who hijacked his car and drove back to Castleblayney where they released Wilson unharmed. The pair were arrested and at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin, McDonald was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for kidnapping, car hijacking and possession of a firearm. Daniel Hamill received eight years for firearm charges.
McDonald was released from Portaloise Prison in Aug. 1989 after serving eight of his ten year sentence. He moved to Dublin and set up a small unisex hair salon above a bookie’s office at 2 St. Aidan’s Park Road, Marino. McDonald rented a basement flat in Castle Avenue, Clontarf and was described as a “snappy dresser who enjoyed the company of women” by the Irish Independent (21 Dec. 1991). He was separated and had a 17-year-old daughter. Police said upon release he became active with the IPLO (Irish People’s Liberation Organisation) which had been formed in 1986 by disaffected and expelled members of the INLA.
The Evening Herald (31 Dec. 1991) stated that in July 1991 three armed men went to St. Joseph’s Mansions flat complex, Killarney Street near the Five Lamps in the North Inner City. After failing to find a specific individual they were looking for, one of the frustrated gang members fired his shotgun at a group of women in the flats. The four, including a 13 year old girl, were hit by shotgun pellets. Police linked this incident to Patrick McDonald, the IPLO and a feud with a North Inner City criminal gang.
On 20 Dec. 1991 at about 5.15pm, McDonald (41) was cutting the hair of a female customer when a lone, masked gunman entered his premises in Marino and shot him six times in the neck and back. He was killed instantly. The customer and a female shop assistant were badly shook up but not injured in the attack.
McDonald received a IPLO guard of honour and this photograph shows IPLO members firing a volley of shots at his funeral in the Derrybeg housing estate, Newry, Co. Down.
The Provisional IRA released a statement denying any involvement in McDonald’s murder while the IPLO said to the press that they would enact revenge for the killing. Four men and two women from the North Inner City were quizzed about the murder but released. The Sunday Tribune (02 July 1995) and many other newspapers linked McDonald’s death to a North Inner City criminal gang and their associates in Swords who had previously been involved with the INLA.
As a side note, McDonald’s former partner-in-crime Danny Hamill was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in 2008 for a bank robbery in Crumlin in 2006.
12 July 1992 – Michael Travers (Mick Travers) (48)
Mick Travers, originally from the North Inner City, was an imposing man. He was over six feet tall, weighed over 16 stone (101kg) and had been a black belt in karate since at least the late 1970s. Travers was linked to a criminal network that ran protection rackets in the areas around North King Street, Mary Street, Capel Street, Parnell Street and Moore Street. It was often said that Travers lived up to his ‘hard man’ image. Some of the well-known stories included the time he was shot in a leg by a police officer in a pub altercation and walked himself to the hospital and in another incident he physically defended himself from a murder attempt and jumped out of a two-storey window to escape his attackers.
In the early 1970s and early 1980s, he lived with his family in Marigold Court, Darndale. On 18 Dec. 1978, Travers got into a verbal and physical argument with publican Kevin Rafferty and barman Nicholas Bennett at Raf’s Lounge (since demolished), 177 North King Street at the corner of North Anne Street in Dublin 7. The Evening Herald (08 Dec. 1981) reported that Special Branch officer Michael Hughes had gone to the assistance of the two men and in the ensuing melee shot Travers in the leg with his .38 revolver. The Irish Independent (13 July 1992) claimed that Travers had threatened the officer with a broken bottle during the incident. It was rumoured that the wounded Travers refused the offer of an ambulance and instead walked the 1km or thereabouts to Jervis Street Hospital for treatment. Travers was charged with assault at the Central Criminal Court but was acquitted by a jury in 1981.
In Sep. 1981, Travers was alleged to have assaulted Garda Anthony Gannon and pub manager Mr. Kelly in the Black Sheep pub in the Northside Shopping Centre. As reported in the Irish Independent (22 July 1982), a Circuit Criminal Court judge threw out the case and dismissed the jury because he felt that State’s evidence had “blackened” the accused in the eye of the jurors.
On 11 March 1982, Travers escaped a murder attempt at his Kenpo karate club in Wolfe Tone Street when a three man gang burst into the premises. His 16 year-old-daughter managed to shout a warning and the Irish Independent (14 July 1992) recalled how “the club manager grabbed a brush and struck one of the three men while Mr Travers grabbed a chair and hit one gunman as he fired a shot (and) kicked out at one gunman who also opened fire”. Another long-standing rumour is that Travers jumped “from a two-storey window” and ran away from the scene “with two badly injured ankles” as retold by the Irish Press (13 July 1992).
In the 1980s, the father of three lived on Clanmahon Road, Donnycarney. The Irish Press (20 Dec. 1988) announced that Travers and his associate Terence Brazil (30) of St. Mary’s Road, East Wall, had been charged with extorting money from an auctioneer named Mrs. Shirley Nolan. However this key witness “withdrew her allegations just as the Gardaí were preparing to forward a file to the DPP”, according to the Irish Press (13 July 1992), and was believed to have moved to England in fear of her life. This was the only time that authorities came close to a convection for the widespread protection rackets he was believed to have been involved in.
Travers had a number of business interests including a karate club and newsagent in Smithfield until about 1991. He also co-owned a grocery and vegetable shop with Paddy McNeill in Darndale.
On the morning of 12 July 1992, Mick Travers (48) was standing behind the counter of McNeills grocery shop, Ring Road, Darndale when two gunmen entered wearing helmets and visors. They shouted at the shop assistant Willie Darcy and a local milkman to get down on the ground. The hitman shot Travers in the chest at close range and fired at least three more times into his body when he fell to the ground. The two men jumped on a motorbike and escaped from the scene through neighbouring housing estates.
Ann O’Loughlin summed things up in the Sunday Independent (19 July 1992) when she described it as a “another professional, cold-blooded and ruthless slaying – the result of an increasingly intense and lethal rivalry within the capital’s criminal underworld”.
Gardai began to investigate whether a “major pub row” that had “wrecked” The Barry pub in Finglas was connected to the killing. The incident which left “several men injured” occurred about a year previous to the murder and was linked to a protection racket involving Travers according to the Evening Herald (18 July 92). Apparently the IRA-connected pub told Travers that they no longer required his security men on the premises. The resulting melee was vicious and the Sunday World (06 Sep. 1992) reported that one member of the bar staff was stabbed by Travers. This person received “horrific facial injuries” and needed 140 stitches. When Travers apparently refused twice to pay compensation for this incident, he became the target of Provisional IRA according to senior Gardaí.
Other newspaper speculated that Travers fell out with another criminal gang and was killed as a result. The Irish Press (18 July 1993) said that detectives believed the same ‘hitman’ was the prime suspect in the gangland executions of Gerard Hourigan (1983), Danny McOwen (1983) and Patrick McDonald (1991).
Nobody was ever charged or convicted for the murder.
3 April 1993 – Michael Godfrey (54)
Born about 1939, Michael Godfrey grew up on The Thatch Road, Whitehall. In June 1958, the teenager was sentenced to one year imprisonment for his role in two robberies. The court heard that in May 1958 Godfrey (19) and his-accused Leslie Wearen (21), also of The Thatch Road, stole an air pistol from Watt Brothers Ltd., 4 Upper Abbey Street and then held up the staff of Patrick J. Kilmartin’s betting office on Prospect Avenue, Glasnevin. They made off with £100 but were caught and detained by passers-by as reported in the Irish Independent (21 June 1958).
Not much is known about Godfrey’s life in the 1960s and 1970s although it is believed that he spent much of this time in England. Paul Williams in ‘Badfellas’ suggests Godfrey moved back to Ireland in 1985 and set himself up as an insurance broker but his business failed after a couple of years.
In Dublin in April 1988, Godfrey organised an insurance scam which netted £60,000. He enlisted the help of his niece Yvonne Godfrey and her partner Michael O’Connell to plan a fake car crash. The pair were sentenced each to a three years suspended sentence for their peripheral role in Oct. 2000.
In 1991, Godfrey was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment in England for possession of forged Irish £20 notes according to the Irish Independent (06 April 1993). This was part of a money-counterfeiting scam organised by the Dublin criminal PJ Judge (‘The Psycho’) according to ‘Badfellas’. Godfrey returned to Ireland after serving a year of his sentence and moved into a basement flat near the corner of the North Circular Road and O’Devaney Gardens.
Paul Williams states in ‘Badfellas’ that Godfrey got involved in drug importation with PJ Judge:
Godfrey … set up a front company in an industrial unit in Glasnevin, The plan was to import large quantities of cannabis for Judge, who was anxious to cut out the middlemen in the business. In February 1993, they travelled to Belgium where they agreed to buy 30 kilos of hash from a Dutch dealer for £30,000 … When the first consignment arrived in 12 March, Judge refused to take it because it was not the cannabis he sampled in Holland … and ordered Godfrey to get the money back. Instead Godfrey sold the hash to John Gilligan’s lieutenant, Peter ‘Fatso’ Mitchell, for almost double its price. Judge heard about the deal and flew into a rage.
On 3 April 1993 about midnight, two masked men called to Godfrey’s flat on the North Circular Road. A neighbour told police that the pair:
“… told Michael: ‘You know you somebody a lot of money’. He seemed to know what they were talking about and asked them to be reasonable about it. He said: ‘We can sort it out”. (Irish Independent, 6 April 1993)
The two men drove off with Godfrey in his blue Renault car which had been parked outside his home. At 11.30am the following morning, Godfrey’s body was found under a hedge in a field near Scribblestown Lane, Blanchardstown. He had been beaten and then shot twice in the head.
Michael Godfrey (54) was separated from his wife and had one grown up daughter. He was described as a former insurance agent by the Irish Press (02 June 1993)
In July 1993, the .32 revolver gun used in the murder was found buried in a field in Dunsink, Finglas. That summer a number of men and women were arrested in Tallaght, Clondalkin and Finglas and taken in for questioning.
Derek Casserly (26), Donomore Crescent, Tallaght was charged with the murder and false imprisonment of Godfrey. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 1996. At the trial in 2000, the prosecution argued that Casserly was “an active participant” in the abduction and murder though it did not claim he fired either of the two fatal shots. The judge directed a ‘not guilty’ verdict in the trial due to insufficient evidence.
A second man Martin Dunne (43), of Collins Drive, Finglas, also pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges and was acquitted by a jury in Dec. 2000. Eight months later on 24 Aug. 2001, Dunne broke into a woman’s home and raped her at knife point. At his trial, he told the court that he and his nephew Glen Dunne (stabbed to death in Nov. 2001) were hired by the woman’s estranged husband to carry out the attack. Dunne, who had 60 convictions, was jailed for 14 years in Feb. 2005.
Gangland crime boss PJ Judge (The Psycho), the orchestrator of Godfrey’s abduction and killing, was also linked to the murders of two criminal associates in 1996 – William ‘Jock’ Corbally and Michael Brady. The Provisional IRA were prime suspects in the killing of Judge himself in Dec. 1996.
1 June 1993 – Sean Clarke (44)
Sean Clarke, originally from Kilbarrack, was a separated father of four. He worked as a sandwich delivery man for a company in Dublin 7.
In Oct. 1992, he was the chief suspect in a number of “indecent assaults” on “six girls under eight” years of age in North County Dublin according to the Evening Herald (02 June 1993) and a file had been forwarded to the DPP. At the time of the investigation, his car was damaged by vigilantes. Clarke moved out of his house in Coolock and into a flat on the North Circular Road some months before his death.
On the early morning of 1 June 1993 about 3.30am, Clarke parked his white Toyota hatchback car outside the SPADE enterprise centre near Stoneybatter to collect sandwiches from the Big Bite Sandwich Company to deliver to all-night service stations. SPADE is a community based enterprise centre opened in 1990 in the converted St. Paul’s protestant church at North King Street, Dublin 7. A gunman, unmasked and dressed in an expensive looking suit, approached and blasted Clarke in the abdomen and both thighs with a shotgun. He stepped away but returned immediately and killedClarke with a final shot to the back of the head. It was reported in the Irish Press (02 June 1993) that residents in the Blackhall Parade flat complex heard the assassin say: “You bastard, you did it. Don’t say you didn’t”. The gunman picked up the spent cartridges and calmly walked in the direction of Stoneybatter where he jumped into a waiting getaway car.
Nobody was ever charged or convicted. The Irish Independent (24 Aug. 1993) stated that the police were “working on the theory that the gunman was a contract killer connected to a major city crime gang”.
31 Oct. 1993 – Francis Rodgers (Fran Rodgers) (40)
Fran Rodgers grew up at 83 Dolphin House, Dolphin’s Barn in Dublin 8. He joined the British Army and served with the Coldstream Guards regiment for a number of years. His brothers Laurence, Thomas and Gerard were up in the courts for robbery offences in the 1970s and 1980s.
Returning to Dublin, Rodgers lived with his mother at 20 Brabazon Street in the Coombe. He married in 1983, had one child but separated from his wife in 1986. The Sunday Tribune (7 Nov. 1993) described him as one of the “main suppliers of heroin in the south inner city” in the early 1990s.
On Halloween night 31 Oct. 1993, Rodgers (40) was lighting fireworks with his young daughter and two nephews at a soon-to-be lit bonfire in a patch of wasteland at the back of Weavers Court in the Newmarket area of the Coombe. At about 7.30pm, a masked gunman approached and shot Rodgers twice in the legs with a shotgun before finishing him off with a blast to the head as he lay on the ground. The shooter escaped in a getaway car parked outside the ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ pub in Newmarket Square. His age was given as 35 in early reports but it was stated as 40 at the inquest into his death.
Although Rodgers was known to have had recent confrontations with local members of the Concerned Parents Against Drugs (CPAD), the police focused on the theory that he was killed by a hitman for a rival drug gang. Nobody was charged in connection with it.
The day after his death, over 200 local residents of the Coombe area marched to City Hall calling on the council to eject drug dealers from local authority homes.