Ireland's first gangland murder victim of the year was targeted for death because associates believed he was planning to take control of their mob, gardai now believe.

And, as detectives continue their probe into Saturday’s gun killing of Brandon Ledwidge, 23, sources have also revealed that officers believe he had been in a fist fight with a key associate of the prime suspect shortly before he was gunned down.

“He had a fight with a lad the day before he was killed,” a source confirmed last night.

READ MORE:Gardai probe if man was 'shot dead by his own gang' as victim's pending court date revealed

“The fella he had the fight with would be very close to (the suspect), so that is being looked at. But the belief at this stage is that the stronger motive was that the gang he worked with believed he was planning a power grab.”

Sources say he was a member of a secretive drugs gang in Finglas, north Dublin, that is heavily involved in the heroin trade in the area – and the suspect for the shooting is also a member of that outfit,

The gang makes a fortune from the heroin, cocaine and cannabis trade in Finglas, but has kept a low profile and does not get involved in feuds – until now.

Insiders say it is led by members of a family, but the leader is now facing extended prison time after he was charged with a serious offence in recent years.

Investigators probing Saturday’s killing, in which Mr Ledwidge was shot several times at the door of his home on Barry Drive in Finglas on Saturday, now suspect the family-led mob believed the victim was planning to take over the organisation – so they moved against him.

Sources also say senior members of the gang – which has links to the Kinahan cartel, including ex-soldier and would-be hitman Robert Browne – held a conference in Finglas the night before the murder.

Gardai now believe that the conference was held to discuss Ledwidge – and bosses gave the order for him to be murdered.

A lone gunman walked up to Ledwidge’s house on Barry Road at around 6.50pm and fired several shots as he opened the door – hitting him at least three times.

Paramedics worked on him at the scene, before rushing him to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, west Dubbin – where he lost his fight for life.

The suspect is also from Finglas and part of the family gang, sources say. Ledwidge was due in court yesterday for possession of drugs. He was facing three separate charges for possession of heroin and cocaine with the intent of sale or supply.

Gardai carried out door-to-door enquiries around the Finglas area on Monday - and are in the process of gathering as much CCTV from the area as possible.

The fatal shooting comes after almost 11 full months without a gangland murder in Ireland. Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact Finglas Garda Station on 01 666 7500, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda station.

Gangland victim Brandon Ledwidge

Sources say the gang being blamed for the Ledwidge murder has close links to Robert Browne (39), who is serving a 12 and a half year sentence for a Kinahan. Murder plot in Dublin in March 2018.

Browne, a former British soldier, was arrested with brothers Gary (39) and Glen Thompson (29) just 250 metres from the north inner city home of Patsy Hutch. The brother of Gerry “the Monk” Hutch.

Gary Thompson, with an address at Plunkett Green in Finglas, Dublin 11, his brother Glen Thompson, of Plunkett Drive, also in Finglas, and Robert Browne (39), of Phibsboro Road in Phibsboro, Dublin 7 admitted to unlawful possession of four firearms with intent to endanger life at Belmont Hall Apartments, Gardiner Street, Dublin 1 on March 10, 2018.

The four firearms included a 9mm Rak submachine gun, a .38 Special Calibre Rossi Make Revolver, a 9mm Beretta 92 semi-automatic pistol and a 9mm Makarov semi-automatic pistol.

They were jailed for 12 and a half years in July 2019. Sources say as well as that link to the mob controlled by Daniel Kinahan (46), the Finglas outfit also buys drugs from it.

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