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Suspect in Garda shooting has lengthy involvement in crime

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The man being questioned about the shooting of two Garda members during a siege in west Dublin is a convicted drugs dealer who has spent lengthy periods in prison.

The man, a Dubliner in his late 30s, was given a 10-year jail term just over a decade ago when he was convicted of possessing cocaine worth up to €70,000 on the street.

Then, he was arrested after his car was stopped by a Garda checkpoint. He threw a kilogram of cocaine from the vehicle before reaching the gardaí, but it was spotted by a member of the public who alerted the Garda.

He challenged his sentence before the Court of Criminal Appeal, but lost and served the sentence. Since his release five years ago, he has kept a low public profile, according to gardaí.

Before his sentence for possessing cocaine, he was heavily involved in drug dealing in west Dublin and had become involved in a violent feud centred on Blanchardstown, Corduff and Clonsilla.

He has a conviction, too, for possessing a hand grenade – as well as more than 20 other convictions – and has survived several attempts on his life during a series of gangland feuds over nearly 20 years.

However, gardaí believe a dispute he is currently involved in with significant gangland criminals on the Dublin drugs scene has escalated seriously of late.

The man, from Whitechapel, Blanchardstown, was recently warned by gardaí that his life was in danger. Gardaí believe he had two guns at his home – a machine pistol and a handgun.

The weapons have been sent for ballistics testing to determine which one was used to shoot the gardaí and also to establish if they have been used in any other attacks.

A number of bullet holes were visible in the wounded detectives’ Garda vehicle, which was still parked outside the house on Wednesday afternoon. Bullet holes could be seen, too, in the window of an upstairs bedroom at the house.

Garda forensic experts had marked areas of the house’s driveway and the pavement outside where bullet casings were found, or where bullets had hit the concrete.

Westies gang

The suspect and an older man, who he was been closely associated with all his life, were members of the so-called Westies gang, based around Blanchardstown and Corduff in west Dublin.

Both were lucky to survive in their early 20s when a rival opened fire on them with a machine gun shortly after they had been released after questioning by Blanchardstown gardaí.

Many of the suspect’s contemporaries have been murdered, including Bernard Sugg (23) in Dublin in 2003, and Shane Coates (31) and Stephen Sugg (27) who were murdered in Spain in 2004.

Coates and Sugg were key players in west Dublin criminality then. Following their murder they were buried in concrete under a warehouse floor and their bodies were not found for three years.

The man who is in custody in Blanchardstown was closely associated, too, with brothers Andrew and Mark Glennon, aged 30 and 32, who were shot dead in April 2005.

The suspect has also had links to senior organised crime gang leaders in north Dublin, one of whom, Michael Kelly (30), was shot dead in Coolock in September 2011 by the Real IRA.

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Three Cork publicans prepare to begin trade again

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Pensioners who like to read the paper as they enjoy a few leisurely pints are the cohort most excited by the resumption of indoor service in pubs, according to a Cork city publican who has only traded for two weeks since March 2020.

Michael O’Donovan, who owns the Castle Inn, says his regulars have been phoning to check what time he is opening on Monday, with some saying they have not had a social outing since the start of the pandemic.

“We know all our regulars on a first-name basis. We have a man who comes in and has two or three pints on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He will read the paper but he will watch the world go by at the same time,” he said.

“He will chat when he wants to chat. He is in his late 70s and he wouldn’t have been out [socially] in 15 months.”

Mr O’Donovan said it has been a surreal time but was hopeful that better days were coming.

“We will adapt and get on with all the changes we have to make with how we do business,” he said. “It is difficult in that we never wanted to be asking people about their health status. We have to be cautious but it is another step in getting life back to the way we knew it.”

‘It has been a struggle’

Danny Collins was looking forward to reopening the Boston Bar in Bantry, west Cork after a year of many sleepless nights due to worries about keeping the business afloat.

“I have been going through my savings to pay the mortgage as we were only open for a couple of weeks last year,” the independent councillor said.

“It has been a struggle. Of course there were other bills as well. To have your pub cameras, you had to pay the internet bill. I was also advised to keep my cooler system running. In the winter, I had to put on the heating.”

Mr Collins said he was apprehensive about all the different regulations that will have to be complied with as indoor service returns, such as staffing all entrances, and that finding employees had been a struggle for those in the sector.

“I think the PUP [Pandemic Unemployment Payment] should be reviewed at this point,” he said.

‘We can’t wait to open’

In Cork city, publican Ernest Cantillon will be opening Electric bar/restaurant and Sober Lane bar this week.

During the pandemic, he set up an online cocktail sales business and sold takeaway food, allowing him to keep a core team of about 15 people employed despite his business only opening as a traditional pub for a couple of weeks last year.

“We have also shifted to a new model of opening four evenings a week,” he said. “We are opening next Wednesday through Saturday and then staff will have three days off. That has been a key factor in staff retention and recruitment. We are going to give it a go. We can’t wait to open.”

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Germany’s flood zones spared severe storms on Saturday

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In the west of the country, the fire brigade reported a quiet night in the flood areas in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine Westphalia.

The situation remains tense, however, with local thunderstorms forecast in some parts of Germany from midday on Sunday — most likely south of the Danube.

Further heavy rain and hail were also possible again, according to the German Weather Service (DWD), which publishes storm warnings.

READ ALSO: WEATHER: German flood zones at risk of further storms

The latest storms came just days after parts of the country were hit by devastating floods after torrential rains that ravaged entire villages and left 180 people dead, hundreds injured and with many still missing.

The flooding also caused damage in Belgium, where 37 people died, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.



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Prosecutors allege R Kelly had sexual contact with under-age boy

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US prosecutors in R Kelly’s sex trafficking case say he had sexual contact with an under-age boy in addition to girls, and the government wants jurors in his upcoming sex-trafficking trial to hear those claims.

Federal prosecutors aired a wide-ranging raft of additional allegations – but not new charges – against the R&B singer in a court filing on Friday.

Jury selection is due to start August 9th in a New York federal court for Kelly, who denies ever abusing anyone.

The Grammy Award-winning singer is charged with leading what prosecutors call a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who allegedly helped him to recruit women and girls for sex and pornography and to exercise control over them.

The charges involve six different women and girls, who are not named in court filings.

Now, prosecutors would also like jurors to hear about more than a dozen other people whom the government alleges that Kelly sexually or physically abused, threatened or otherwise mistreated.

Among them, the government says, was a 17-year-old boy and aspiring musician whom Kelly met at a McDonald’s in December 2006 and later invited to his Chicago studio.

According to the prosecutors’ court filing, after asking the boy what he would do to make it in the music business, Kelly propositioned and had sexual contact with him while he was still under-age.

And when Kelly was about to go on trial on child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, the same youth told the singer he had access to a juror, and Kelly asked him to contact the juror and vouch he was a “good guy”, prosecutors wrote.

The filing does not say whether the youth did so. Kelly was acquitted in that case.

The boy also introduced Kelly to a 16- or 17-year-old male friend, with whom prosecutors say the singer began a sexual relationship several years later.

Kelly also filmed the two youths in sexual encounters with other people, including some of Kelly’s girlfriends, according to the filing.

Prosecutors wrote that the accounts of the boys and others would help show that the actual charges “were not isolated events and were part of a larger pattern”.

The multiplatinum-selling singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, is known for work including the 1996 hit I Believe I Can Fly and the cult classic Trapped In The Closet, a multi-part tale of sexual betrayal and intrigue.

Kelly’s private life has drawn scrutiny since the 1990s, and he currently is also facing sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. He has pleaded not guilty.– AP

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