Inside brutal gangland murder of teen whose severed body parts were dumped in sports bag

It started as a turf war between rival drug gangs. But now the feud in Drogheda has taken a sinister and sickening turn after the dismembered head of a 17-year-old boy was found in a burning car. Keane Mulready-Woods remains were found in a sports bag on an estate in Dublin on Monday. Then, two days later, his head was recovered from a burning car, marking a new low in an escalating gangland war. Police now believe he was tortured and had his fingers cut off before being butchered by a gang operating in the town on the outskirts of Dublin. Speculation is swirling that his head was due to be delivered to a crime lord as a chilling warning. He is the bitter rival of the 35-year-old chief suspect in Keane's murder, a hitman linked to 39-year-old Richard Carberry, who was shot dead in November. Irish Gardai consider the suspect a 'psychopath' and a serial killer. Keane was thought to have been playing both sides and had got in "way over his head".His death may have been in retaliation for Carberry's murder as Keane was associated with someone blamed for the killing. Additionally, police suspect threats made to children known to the suspect may have led him to target a youngster himself in this brutal fashion. Keane is believed to have been caught in the middle between associates of a traveller gang in Drogheda and other fledgeling gangs trying to muscle their way in. The crime lord is an associate of the traveller gang.The teenager himself was given a suspended four-month jail sentence last year for a campaign of intimidation and harassment against a local family. Police say he was also known for minor drugs offences. He is the latest victim in the war on the streets of Ireland that started with small scale violence but is now spiralling out of control.
Fears of a bigger war
People fear this latest killing could see feuds in Drogheda combine with the gang battles in Dublin, sparking a major bloodletting that engulfs the country.Three killings have been linked to a bloody feud between two Drogheda gangs.But police say at least 26 people have been killed in Ireland's drugs wars since 2015. One feud alone is said to have claimed 18 lives.The two main suspects in Keane's murder are involved in a war with the rival gangs in Drogheda and another outfit run by a Mr Big in Coolock, a large suburb of Dublin's Northside. On Monday, the killers were on the way to the rival’s house in Coolock to dump the body parts in his garden but panicked when gardai probing a robbery arrived. They instead dumped the limbs on a street where kids found them.A source said: ”They were also planning on keeping the head and torso to place on a pillar or pole also near their rivals but panicked once again and disposed of them in a burning car.”A senior source said: “This was nothing short of barbaric. A completely depraved act.“Keane’s body parts were dumped in Coolock as a message to their enemies. It’s like something out of the Netflix show Narcos.”The war on the streets has left people in fear.Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar vowed to "get these people behind bars and make this town safe again" on a visit to Drogheda on Friday.
He said it was "the most gruesome, grotesque murder that I can think of".Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the gangsters had crossed a line with Keane's "brutal and heinous murder".Problems started when a younger gang moved into the traveller's turf in the town of Drogheda, north of Dublin. At first, it was just a battle over territory but then, as simmering tensions reached boiling point, in July 2018 the violence erupted.
Escalating violence

One rival gang opened fire on a member of their rival in Drogheda. Despite being shot, the man survived but suffered horrific injuries and has been left paralysed. It was the spark that lit the tinder box. Just four months later a member of the rival gang was found stripped, beaten and stabbed in his bathroom after he had been abducted. He was found by police in a house on the Honeymore Estate, but survived.In February last year, an older brother of the traveller gang leader miraculously survived an attempted hit outside a gym in the centre of Drogheda. He was shot five times in the neck as he sat in his car.
A feared gangland boss the crime lord mentioned above was released from prison in May last year. His crew is one of the gangs at the centre of the feud and his mob had been linked to the murders of Willie Maughan and his pregnant girlfriend Ana Varslavane. Their remains have never been found.
The couple was last seen alive in 2015. Then, in August last year, the attacks turned into murders. Keith Branigan was shot dead at a caravan park near Clogherheard in County Louth. The newlywed was just 29 when he became the first person to pay for the escalating feud with his life. Even at his funeral, the hundreds of mourners were urged not to seek revenge for the killing. Parish priest, Father Phil Gaffney, said: "Our sorrow can only be eased by the men and women turning away from violence and observing the rule of law, particularly those who could be planning revenge at this time."When will it stop, Who can make it stop. Only the men and women of Drogheda who want a better future for their children."
But this was just the first killing in a series of murders that has led to the brutal death and dismemberment of a teenage boy. In November last year senior gang figure and father-of-three Richard Carberry was gunned down outside his home on County Meath. Police suspected he was a drug dealer and officers are investigating if he was killed by the same side of the feud that murdered Keith Branigan. It also wasn't the first time Richard had been targeted - in March, 2019, gunmen opened fire on his home. Police in Ireland had taken the unusual step of warning him that his life was in danger. Extra patrols were put in place around the estate where he lived and just 30 minutes before he was killed a squad car had been past his house to check everything was in order.
In what appears to be a meticulously planned attack by those responsible, they seemed to have made sure there were no police in the area when they opened fire.Richard was getting out of his car when he was ambushed by a man with an automatic pistol.He had just arrived home and his wife and children were inside.Wounded, the police and ambulance were called, but he could not be saved.
Innocent lives blighted

The Moneymore Estate at the centre of the Drogheda feud is said to be on lockdown. community events are being cancelled and armed police are a regular site. Travellers who have nothing to do with the crime are being targeted because of the role of the traveller gang. And innocent family members are being threatened and their homes attacked in a bid to intimidate enemies. Deputy mayor of Drogheda Michelle Hall said the people of the town "are mad, we're mad at the thugs who have given the wonderful historic town of Drogheda a name synonymous with drugs and crime."Gardai are also hunting a man who was a passenger when an innocent cabbie was shot on the Bridge Of Peace in Drogheda on Monday night.Keane's killing has also raised the risk of igniting a major turf war between gangs in Drogheda and in Coolock.Ireland has seen a huge upsurge in killings following the Hutch-Kinahan feud.The killings began with the murder of Gary Hutch, nephew of Hutch gang boss Gerry Hutch, at a villa near Marbella in Spain.His alleged killer, James Quinn, was an associate of the Kinahan family, and the death triggered a war between the two gangs.
Gerry's innocent brother Eddie Hutch, 59, was murdered in his home by a Kinahan hit squad after Gerry had ordered a hit at a Dublin boxing match in 2016, in which 33-year-old David Byrne, a key enforcer for gang Christy "The Dapper Don" Kinahan, was killed. Over the next three years, some 18 people were killed in Dublin and the surrounding counties in a series of shootings. Around 60 people were arrested, including many major figures in the Irish criminal underworld, and there had been no killings directly linked to the feud since early 2019. But in January last year, a new feud erupted with the murder of Zach Parker in the Coolock area of Dublin. Cops believe the other four murders those of Se├ín Little, Jordan Davis, Hamid Sanambar and Eoin Boylan are linked to the ongoing feud. Now the separate turf war in Drogheda, some 30 miles north of Dublin, is threatening to tear the city apart. Videos have been shared online vowing reprisal attacks after Keane's murder. 
Following raids on a number of Drogheda properties, one house remains cordoned off and is the suspected murder scene. Despite that, no arrests have been made, raising fears of more bloodshed. A statement from the Gardai said: "A number of searches have been conducted in the Drogheda area on the 14th of January 2020, one search location remains ongoing at present."Incident rooms have been established at Drogheda, Coolock and Mountjoy Garda Station with the investigation being coordinated from Drogheda Garda Station."Police have made appeals for anyone who has knowledge of Keane's movements from when he was last seen on Sunday, December 12 at around 6pm.
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