THE HUNT for an Irishman wanted in connection with a double shooting in Essex has expanded into Ireland.
Fears that Francis O’Donoghue has escaped across the Irish Sea have been sparked by possible sightings of the 27-year-old in Ireland, The Irish Post has learnt.
Police are warning members of the public not to approach Mr O’Donoghue, who is wanted for the attempted murder of two of his neighbours, because he could be carrying a handgun.
The Limerick man has evaded British police for four weeks as they continue searching Traveller sites across Essex, Hertfordshire and London.
A spokesperson for Essex Police said they are appealing for information from Mr O’Donoghue’s family and friends in Ireland, as well as members of the Traveller community.
Mr O’Donoghue is wanted in connection with the shooting of British boxer Martin Ward and his brother John on farmland in Navestock on August 27.
The event was the culmination of an “ongoing neighbour feud” and left both victims with wounds to the legs and chest.
They underwent surgery and are now recovering with relatives after being discharged from hospital.
“Francis O’Donoghue is the force’s number one priority arrest and people living and working in Ireland could play a key role in helping us arrest him,” said Trevor Roe, Superintendent at Essex Police.
“He is potentially in possession of a handgun so everyone can see the necessity for him to be taken off the streets.
“With this in mind, we need the community’s eyes and ears and urge them to call us with sightings so that we can act on the information and detain him.”
The case became the focus of a nationwide appeal earlier this month after being featured on BBC Crimewatch.
A few hours before the programme aired, a 28-year-old man from north London was arrested by armed police in Navestock on suspicion of assisting an offender. He was later released on police bail until late October pending further enquiries.
Francis O’Donoghue is described as white, approximately 5ft 11ins tall, of medium build and with short-brown hair and protruding ears.
Anyone with information in connection with the shooting is urged to contact detectives at Harlow’s Major Investigation Team on 01279 621802, email them on SCDappeals@essex.pnn.police.uk or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
Anyone who knows of Mr O’Donoghue’s whereabouts is urged to call 999.