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Suitcase murder victim Kenneth O'Brien 'was killed by gang over missing drug money'

By Ken Foy and Alan O'Keeffe

Published 23/01/2016

Kenneth O'Brien's body was found in the Grand Canal at Ardclough in north Kildare
Kenneth O'Brien's body was found in the Grand Canal at Ardclough in north Kildare
The Garda sub aqua unit searching the Grand Canal
Members of the Garda at the scene near the village of Ardclough, Co Kildare, where a body was found inside a container dumped in the Grand Canal yesterday. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A coffin is taken from the scene near the village of Ardclough, Co Kildare, where a body was found inside a container dumped in the Grand Canal yesterday. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Garda sub aqua unit at the scene near the village of Ardclough, Co Kildare
Members of the Garda at the scene near the village of Ardclough, Co Kildare, where a body was found inside a container dumped in the Grand Canal yesterday. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Members of the Garda sub aqua unit at the scene near the village of Ardclough, Co Kildare, where a body was found inside a container dumped in the Grand Canal yesterday. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Gardai believe a 33-year-old man whose dismembered torso was found in the Grand Canal was murdered by a West Dublin crime gang over missing drugs cash.

It is understood that father-of-one Kenneth O'Brien may have been involved in laundering money for a criminal gang.

CCTV footage has established that Mr O'Brien had been seen several days beforehand in the area of Ardclough, Co Kildare, where his body was found a week ago.

It is understood that Mr O'Brien had left Ireland for Australia owing the gang a significant cash sum that he was due to "launder" for them, according to sources.

He then returned home during the Christmas period and when he decided to stay in Dublin, the gang planned and carried out his murder.

It is now believed Mr O'Brien was killed on Friday night of last week.

The gang the victim is suspected of working for is based in Clondalkin in West Dublin and was previously involved in a bitter feud in that locality.

Gardaí have continued searching the area of Ardclough since last Saturday, when Mr O'Brien's partial remains were discovered in a suitcase in the Grand Canal.

Yesterday, gardaí also discovered €50,000 worth of ecstasy tablets in a farmyard, which sources say may be connected to the brutal murder gang. No arrests have been made.

While gardaí previously said that Mr O'Brien was not aware of any death threat against him, it has since emerged that the victim and some of his acquaintances had been receiving threatening texts, which may have been linked to his personal life.

The analysis of phone data and emails is now part of the investigation.

Gardaí have investigated a large amount of "complicated" relationships that Mr O'Brien was involved in, but have now concluded that the strongest line in the probe is that he is a gangland murder victim.

Last night, Garda checkpoints were mounted in the vicinity of the Grand Canal at Ardclough.

Passing motorists were signalled to stop near the entrance of Ardclough GAA club by gardaí with clipboards. Officers asked motorists and passers-by if they had used the route at the same time last week on the day the victim disappeared - and if they had seen anything suspicious in the area.

A Garda spokesman said it was planned to mount a number of checkpoints in the area throughout the night in the hope of gaining new information that could further the murder probe.

Investigators are trying to establish the exact movements of Mr O'Brien before he met his brutal death.

He left his home on Lealand Road in Clondalkin, on the morning of Friday, January 15.

His partner had already left for work and was using the family car.

Detectives are trying to establish if he was collected by somebody outside his home or was meeting a person elsewhere.

He had informed his partner the night before that he was travelling outside Dublin for a job and would be gone for the weekend.

Gardaí are currently trawling through a huge amount of CCTV footage from the Clondalkin and Ardclough areas in a bid to establish Mr O'Brien's final movements.

At present, some several hundred lines of inquiry are being pursued.

Officers are also expected to release some details regarding the suitcase in which Mr O'Brien's partial remains were found.

Earlier this week, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald described the murder as a shocking and distressing case.

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan offered the sympathies of the force to the O'Brien family.

Irish Independent

Irish Independent

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