Gardaí believe the shooting dead of a 28-year-old woman in north Co Dublin last night was carried out by a professional killer.

Baiba Saulite, a Latvian and a mother of two, was shot by a lone man as she stood in the hallway of her home at Holywell Square, Feltrim Road, Swords.

Her sons aged three and five were asleep upstairs when the shooting occurred at around 9.45pm last night.

It is understood Ms Saulite was separated from her husband. He is serving a jail sentence for his role in a stolen car racket.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, described it as a horrific murder.

Her body has been removed from the scene for a post mortem examination.

Gardaí say the gunman escaped the scene in a car with an accomplice.

A black BMW 06 model 520 was later found burned out at Aspen Road, Kinsealy, Co Dublin. Gardaí are investigating if this is connected to the earlier shooting.

Gardaí are appealing for anyone with information to contact the incident room at Swords Garda Station on 01-6664700.