Irish police believe a former colleague shot dead in Cavan was heavily involved in serious crime and may have been murdered by a drug dealer.

The body of 48-year-old John Kerins was found at his home near Bailieboro on Friday afternoon.

The father of three had been shot in the face and chest and left to die by his assailants.

Reports in the Irish media suggest Kerins was about to enter a witnesss protection programme after assisting police searching for a missing man.

Kerins had been quizzed over the disappearance and murder of innocent dad Gerry Daly according to the Irish Sun.

Sources told the paper that Kerins may have been close to revealing who was behind the abduction and disappearance of Daly.

Linked with dissident Republicans, Kerins served as a detective with the Irish fraud squad in the past but was discharged from the force three years ago.

He was arrested in Cork last April when he was caught with $30,000 worth of stolen goods in his possession.

Police believe he may have been killed after falling foul of a major drug baron.

A senior source told the Irish Sun: “Kerins had links to major criminal drug and republican terror gangs.

“He lived in the road where Gerry Daly was last seen alive and there were also major drugs found close to his home. Kerins was hated in the Gardai (police) because everyone knew he was too close to major criminals.

“He was involved in all sorts of criminality and had a long list of enemies.”

The paper also reports that Kerins was investigated in 2001 after he threw his torch at a teenage joyrider who was hit in the head and died the next day.

Dubliner Daly’s family have appealed for information.

His sister Belinda said: “We don’t know why anyone would want to kill him and there are still people out there who know what happened.”

Investigation continues into brutal assault and death of Sligo manGoogle Images