One of the leaders of one of Drogheda’s drug feud gangs has died in a hospital in Wales.

Cornelius Price was facing charges in the UK for his part in a kidnapping and blackmail plot but became ill and never stood trial.

Gardaí suspect the 41-year-old father-of-two, who was heavily involved in organised crime, was responsible for at least four murders including that of a young couple and their unborn child.

He also had close ties with a number of organised crime groups, including the McCarthy-Dundon gang in Limerick. He was filmed celebrating the death of rival gang leader Robbie Lawlor who was shot dead in Belfast in April 2020. The footage was subsequently circulated on social media.

Cornelius Price operated from a fortified compound in Gormanston. It was where 34-year-old Willie Maughan and 21-year-old Ana Varslavane were last seen alive before they went missing in 2015.

Gardaí believe  Price ordered their murders because he feared Maughan may have known something about his involvement in the drug related murder of Benny Whitehouse the previous year.

Price and Whitehouse were involved in a violent feud over the supply of drugs in Louth and North County Dublin. Whitehouse and another man attacked Price with a baseball bat on Chapel Street in Balbriggan in November 2013.

The following September, Whitehouse was shot dead by a lone gunman. His partner was also shot in the leg. The couple had just dropped their children off at school that morning.

Price fled to Britain as the Drogheda feud spiralled out of control and he continued his involvement in organised crime in the UK. He took part in a blackmail plot where two brothers were kidnapped and told they would be shot in the head if a £300,000 ransom was not paid.

The brothers were tied up, blindfolded, fed sleeping tablets, made to wash with Dettol spray and forced to call their relatives for money before armed police rescued them. One of the victims was found lying on a mattress in the back of a van driven by another Irishman Darren McClean. The 37-year-old was convicted last month and is awaiting sentence.

Cornelius Price was also charged in connection with the kidnapping but never stood trial. He suffered a brain injury and was hospitalised.

His condition deteriorated over the last two years. He remained in intensive care and died yesterday in hospital in Wales.