Phoenix Magazine 1985
The Sunday Express
Longford Leader 20th June 1986
1986 Phoenix Magazine
The Sunday Tribune
Sunday Independent – Supplement
1996 – THE SUNDAY TIMES
The charmed life of an informer
7 July 1996
Rory Godson and Maeve SheehanFor four years, John Traynor enjoyed a mutually profitable arrangement with the gardai. Now, the informer whose criminal activities amassed him millions is one of two prime suspects in Veronica Guerin’s murder, and his cosy relationship is in tatters. John Traynor cut an incongruous figure among the young clubbers as he arrived at the door of the POD, a fashionable Dublin nightclub favoured by visiting celebrities.
But the burly, middle-aged man’s mind was not on partying. He was there to confront John Reynolds, the club owner and nephew of former taoiseach, Albert Reynolds. A young friend of Traynor’s had claimed Reynolds had insulted him. Traynor wanted to know why. The mood turned ugly. Reynolds was punched in the face.
When Gardai investigated Reynolds’s complaint about the incident three months ago, they took statements from several witnesses. But Traynor stayed silent. A short time later, the investigation was dropped when a key witness withdrew his statement.
Gardai had good reason to know Traynor. At the age of 48 he had become openly boastful about a life of crime stretching back to his boyhood. But there was another side to his relationship with them. For years, Traynor had been an informer. His string of convictions for serious crime brought him into regular contact with the law. Detectives came to know him as a man who was willing to negotiate his way out of a lengthy prison sentence.
British police found him equally obliging. When Traynor was sentenced for fraud in Britain in 1989, he struck a deal with Scotland Yard and Irish detectives, who wanted information on the #40m theft of the Beit art collection, masterminded by Martin Cahill, Traynor’s associate, in 1986. The notorious crime boss had also orchestrated the theft of 145 police files from the Dublin office of the director of public prosecutions. Gardai wanted them back.
In 1992 detectives recovered most of the files in a disused launderette in Arbour Hill, in the north inner city. The more sensitive ones, including a file relating to the mysterious death of Niall Molloy, a priest in the west of Ireland, were still missing. Shortly afterwards, Traynor was released from his British jail on a weekend pass, 2 1/2 years into his seven-year sentence. He never returned and no attempt has ever been made to extradite him.
Back in Dublin Traynor faced outstanding charges relating to cigarettes stolen in an armed robbery. But he acted as mediator in a deal between gardai and Cahill to return the Molloy file and, when Cahill handed it over in 1993, the charges were dropped.
Traynor’s symbiotic relationship with his garda handlers was fruitful. Detectives got intelligence on the criminal underworld, while Traynor enjoyed a level of leniency from gardai which seems to have enabled him to pursue his criminal activities.
Two weeks ago, however, the relationship was ripped apart when five bullets were pumped into journalist Veronica Guerin’s body on a Dublin road. The informer who socialised with his garda handlers is now, by his own admission, one of the two prime suspects in Guerin’s murder.
OVER the past four years Traynor has swindled his way to a multi-million-pound fortune. According to an interview with Guerin, published in the Sunday Independent, he defrauded the tax office of #2.75m in a spectacular scam, when he and an accomplice stole cheques from the collector-general’s post box.
Using the nickname “The Coach”, a pun on his surname, Traynor also detailed how he made #47,500 in three days by using a forged Bank of Ireland clearance stamp on stolen cheques. “I’m the best in the country at fraud,” he boasted. “If I didn’t live such an extravagant lifestyle, I’d be a millionaire.”
Traynor was also linked to more serious crime, along with his long-time friend and associate, John Gilligan. They were suspected of handling stolen bank drafts on behalf of Dominic McGlinchey, the former INLA leader who was shot dead in 1993.
When Cahill kidnapped the family of Jim Lacey, the chief executive of National Irish Bank, Traynor was arrested and questioned for 48 hours, and subsequently released without charge. Throughout this period he continued to associate with gardai. While one section of the force was doing its best to have him arrested, another was cultivating him as a source of criminal intelligence. And so, from September 1994, was Veronica Guerin.
TRAYNOR’S long association with crime began when he was convicted of housebreaking at nine. When his family moved from the inner city to Kildare, he stayed in touch with the budding criminals who would later become Dublin’s crime bosses. He left school early and worked for Irish Shipping and then intermittently with his father and in the building trade. But, according to an interview with Guerin, he never strayed far from crime.
Traynor, who is married with four children, now lives in a comfortable house in Templeogue, a middle-class Dublin suburb. In a sworn affidavit, he describes himself as a car dealer. He owns Church Motors in Rathmines and Naas Auto Stop in Kildare. He also owns a half-share in a #16,000 yacht and three cars which he races at Mondello Park.
Guerin first met Traynor in a coffee shop on Montague Street, near St Stephen’s Green. She had phoned him to request the meeting, telling him it was in his interests. According to Traynor’s affidavit, Guerin astonished him by recounting an “escapade” he had had with a garda friend and telling him she was going to write about it.
A month later, Guerin and Traynor met again at a hotel on Leeson Street. She had cajoled and threatened him into meeting her, he said. She wanted the DPP file on Molloy, which she thought Traynor had access to. She did subsequently get the file independently of him, he said.
It was several months before they met again, this time in Fan’s Chinese Restaurant on Dame Street. Traynor said the meeting was friendly as they discussed stories she had worked on. He found her fascinated by crime.
“Her manner is one of incredible intensity and what she says is delivered in the same manner, with her face almost touching the face of the person to whom she is speaking …” he said.
“She clearly had astonishing sources of information. She was able to tell me matters involving myself such as my social connections with my friend in the gardai and a minor dispute I had about the mooring of a boat.”
Guerin wanted Traynor for stories. “Traynor was the single most important candidate in the Irish criminal underworld, and through him she thought she would get other contacts,” said a garda friend.
In January, when Guerin was shot in the leg at her home, Traynor was the prime suspect.The gun attack had initially been blamed on “The Monk”, another Dublin ciminal. It had happened the day after Guerin published an account of The Monk’s tax affairs in the Sunday Independent. But Guerin was later convinced that Traynor, one of three people arrested and questioned by the investigating gardai, had ordered the shooting. All three men were released without charge.
Despite her own and garda suspicions about Traynor’s involvement in the gun attack, Guerin maintained her relationship with him. She told senior gardai that he was an important contact. From April to shortly before her death, Guerin’s contacts with Traynor became more frequent. It was in this period that Traynor allegedly assaulted Reynolds. Traynor claimed in his affadavit that Guerin told him she would get the charges dropped, though gardai say that Guerin never attempted to influence them in the course of their work.
On Monday, June 3, Guerin told Traynor she was publishing a story saying he was connected with two named Dublin heroin dealers. Traynor vociferously denied any involvement in drugs. According to Traynor, Guerin said the information came from a garda file anonymously sent to her editor, but she was not certain the story would appear.
Over the following days, Traynor said he had several further contacts with Guerin. He threatened to go to court to stop publication. On June 6, Guerin told him the story was going ahead. The following day, she told him it wasn’t. Guerin had been told by a lawyer that she could not name Traynor. The lawyer did, however, suggest she surreptitiously tape him. She did, and obtained a self-incriminating statement from Traynor.
On June 13, Guerin rang him and told him the story was going ahead. Traynor said he then cut off contact with her. He applied for a High Court injunction preventing publication, which he won six days after her death.
ON the night of the murder, Guerin’s husband, Graham Turley, paced up and down for two hours outside the morgue at Blanchardstown hospital. “I was just walking around and walking around, still with the belief that it wasn’t Veronica, still with the belief that someone had stolen her car, and that it wasn’t her. Until I had to go in and identify her, and give her a kiss and a hug, then I got the thump in the heart…”
Friday would have been Guerin’s 37th birthday. Her six-year-old son, Cathal, helped to lay out her presents on the kitchen table, and Turley and Cathal opened them together. Veronica was there with them, he said.
Last week Traynor telephoned the Chris Barry radio show on the Dublin station 104FM. He seemed to have been drinking. He said: “I have being pilloried in the press as somebody who had a hand in this woman’s murder. My family’s ruined. My business is ruined. I think I’m ruined at the moment. I’m embarrassed to ring my friends… I’m going to emigrate now with my family because of all this rubbish. I’m heartbroken, ‘cos I knew her so well. I looked into her face many times, to be honest. I liked her a lot and she liked me.”
SUNDAY INDEPENDENT 9 / 10 / 1994
This episode of ” Scannal ” was a complete surprise to the Molloy family.
Extract from Hot Press article in August 2008 by Jason O’Toole