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Michelle O’Neill to meet PSNI chief after Belfast gangland murder of Warren Crossan

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Police at the scene of the murder of Warren Crossan on Saturday

Police at the scene of the murder of Warren Crossan on Saturday

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Warren Crossan

Warren Crossan

Police at the scene of the murder of Warren Crossan on Saturday

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill has said she plans to speak to the PSNI's Chief Constable to discuss organised crime following the murder of Warren Crossan.

The 28-year-old was gunned down in broad daylight in west Belfast on Saturday afternoon by two masked men in what is believed to have been a revenge killing for the execution of Dublin hitman Robbie Lawlor in Ardoyne two months ago.

Mr Crossan, who had been arrested and freed without charge in connection with the murder of the notorious Dublin gangster, was chased into St Katharine's Road by his killers and shot dead.

Mr Crossan's father Tommy Crossan (43) was murdered in west Belfast by dissident republicans in 2014.

Meanwhile, Lawlor was the main suspect in the brutal murder of Drogheda teenager Keane Mulready-Woods earlier this year.

Mulready-Woods disappeared in January and his body was later found dismembered.

Lawlor was widely reported to have been heavily involved in a feud between rival Drogheda-based factions.

It is understood the father-of-three had travelled to Belfast with three Limerick criminals in the belief he was to collect a drugs debt before his death.

Speaking during Monday's Covid-19 briefing, both First Minister Arlene Foster and Ms O'Neill condemned the murder of father-of-two Mr Crossan.

DUP leader Ms Foster said that the country was just coming to terms with the news that the body of Belfast teenager Noah Donohoe had been found following a week of appeals and widespread searches, when the attack on Mr Crossan occurred.

"It was a shocking murder in the middle of the day on Saturday," she stated.

"We were just hearing at that time around the discovery of the body of young Noah Donohoe and then to find out that there were others intent on murder through the streets of Belfast was quite shocking.

"We do of course condemn it utterly and will want everyone in the area who saw anything at all to cooperate with the police here so we can try and bring people to justice.

"It was an absolutely outrageous attack to take place in west Belfast on Saturday and I condemn it utterly."

Sinn Fein's northern leader Ms O'Neill added that it was important to discuss the possible gangland motives of the killing with Chief Constable Simon Byrne.

"I absolutely condemn the murder and call for anybody with information to bring it forward to the PSNI," she said.

"I intend to meet with the Chief Constable around the PSNI's assessment of the organised crime that we're obviously witnessing right now so it's important that we talk to the Chief Constable about that."

Speaking on Sunday, Detective Chief Inspector Darren McCartney refused to speculate on the reasons why Mr Crossan had been targeted but said the investigating officers will be using all of the information that is available.

He did say that Mr Crossan - who was on bail accused of involvement in the importation of £180,000 of cocaine - was known to police and added that that would be used within the "strategy of the investigation".

Mr McCartney added that there was "always" the opportunity for incidents to escalate if tit-for-tat killings were to happen following Mr Crossan's murder, but stressed that the PSNI was working hard to put a stop to any such scenario.

Calling for the public to come forward with any information, Mr McCartney said it was known that Mr Crossan left his home in Crumlin shortly before 11am in a dark metallic blue Skoda Octavia. He was then observed parking the vehicle at the family home in Rodney Parade around 12.40pm.

"This is a callous and reckless killing. Bringing firearms out to residential streets of west Belfast in broad daylight just beggars belief," he continued.

"Grown men have not given any thought or any concern to the risk that was posed to members of the public going about their everyday business whilst walking and driving along the streets. One of these shots struck a vehicle belonging to a local resident.

"That just goes to show the callousness that these gunmen had. Whilst it's too early to speculate on the motive for the murder, links to an organised crime element have not been ruled out."

Belfast Telegraph