Friday, January 14, 2022

Alison O'Riordan

A gang member who was involved in a foiled Kinahan Cartel plot to murder James ‘Mago’ Gately travelled to Northern Ireland to place a tracker device on the rival Hutch member’s car, the Special Criminal Court was told on Friday.

Last November at the non-jury court, Douglas Glynn changed his plea to guilty, just over a week after he went on trial and admitted placing a tracker device on Gately’s car.

Gately had been warned by Gardaí of a threat to his life from criminals who believed him to be involved in the Regency Hotel murder of Kinahan Cartel associate, David Byrne in February 2016.

The court heard in previous related cases there was “ongoing targeting” of Gately in the context of a feud between the Hutch and Kinahan crime groups. Estonian hitman Imre Arakas was brought to Ireland in 2017 to carry out the murder of Gately before he was apprehended by Gardaí.

Detective Sergeant David Carolan previously told the Special Criminal Court he was aware that Gately was involved “in a feud with the Kinahan organised crime group” and that Gately “had a wider association with the Hutch organised crime group”.

He said Gately was “being targeted by the Kinahan organised crime group at the time”.

Glynn (37) of Fitzgibbon Court, Dublin 1, was re-arraigned on November 17th, 2021 and pleaded guilty to participating in activities of a criminal organisation, contrary to Section 72 (1) (A) of the Criminal Justice Act. When first arraigned on November 9th, Glynn had pleaded not guilty.

The specifics of the charge are that on dates between December 7th, 2016, and April 6th, 2017, inclusive, both within and outside the State and with knowledge of a criminal organisation and with the intent of enhancing the ability of the said criminal organisation or any of its members to commit a serious offence, namely the murder of James Gately, Glynn did participate in or contribute to activities connected with the said offence.

Assassination plan

At Friday’s sentence hearing, Detective Sergeant Jonathan O’Leary, of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, told Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, that the offence arose out of an “ongoing plan” to target Gately, which began in December 2016.

Det Sgt O’Leary said Gardaí were not aware of who the target was until April 2017, and it was only on the arrival of Arakas into Ireland on April 2nd, 2017 that Gardaí became aware that the plan was to assassinate Gately.

Arakas (63) was jailed by the Special Criminal Court for six years in December 2018 after he admitted to conspiring with others to murder Gately in Northern Ireland between April 3rd and 4th, 2017.

The witness said on Friday that Gately is a prominent member of a rival criminal organisation.

During the investigation, Gardaí were aware that someone would be arriving into Ireland and Arakas was tracked by members of the unit and followed around Dublin city.

He was later collected by a man driving a white Mercedes van and taken to Blakestown Cottages, Clonsilla, Dublin 15, where a co-accused, Stephen Fowler lived.

Fowler (62), of Blakestown Cottages in Clonsilla, Dublin 15 has already been jailed for providing logistical support to the plot to murder Gately.

Whilst walking around the city, Arakas purchased items for his role as an assassin, including a disguise, and was also observed in an area of the city where Gately may have frequented.

Text messages

Having observed where Ararkas went, a search warrant was obtained for Blakestown Cottages on April 4th, 2017 and Gardaí found Arakas and Fowler on the premises.

A Blackberry device was found in Arakas’ possession and an open message thread referring to the planning of the murder of Gately was found.

The message thread was wiped remotely after it was photographed on the Blackberry device.

A note was also found next to Arakas which was written in Estonian, but with the words ‘James Gately, Dublin criminal’ written in English.

In addition, there was information about the geographical features as to where Gately was living in Belfast and reference to a firearm using the code word “dog”.

Det Sgt O’Leary said it became clear it was anticipated that Gately was to be assassinated and armed with that information, gardaí liaised with police in the North.

In April 2017, Mr McGinn said Gately was found to be driving a Toyota Avensis which had been fitted with a covert tracking device. The court heard it had been planted on his car on March 30th.

Gardaí were then able to “knit together” various incidents over the previous months when similar tracking devices had been planted on other cars associated with Gately.

These tracking devices were manufactured by a UK company called GoTEK7.

Det Sgt O’Leary said information was downloaded from the devices and cross-checked with information held by the parent company to give an insight as to where the devices had been at any given time.

Tracking devices

On March 30th, 2017, Mr McGinn said three occupants – Glynn, Peter Keating and another man – travelled to Belfast in a blue Peugeot car.

Last September, Keating (40) of Rowlagh Green, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 was jailed for 11 years after he pleaded guilty to directing the activities of a criminal organisation between December 7th, 2016, and April 6th, 2017, within and outside the State relating to the targeting of Gately.

On Friday, the court heard that CCTV footage showed the Peugeot driving to Gately’s apartment complex and an attempt was made by Glynn to gain access to the premises.

Glynn did not manage to gain access as he was challenged by an employee in the underground car park and was escorted from the area.

The Peugeot later entered the car park when a different vehicle exited the complex.

Det Sgt O’Leary said Glynn got out of the Peugeot and went to Gately’s Toyota to plant the tracking device.

Glynn was wearing a hunting cap with ear flaps at the time. Having deployed the device, the Peugeot car with the three occupants drove back to Dublin.

In the days following this, information from the tracking device showed Gately’s vehicle driving to Dublin and his movements were matched with the movements of Keating. The tracking device was later found on Gately’s vehicle.

On April 5th, the Peugeot was stopped with a different man driving it.

The next day Glynn and another man, who had brought the tracking device to Ireland, took a ferry to the UK.

On April 11th, Glynn’s residence at Ashtown was searched and five Blackberry devices were located. A serial number showed they had all come from the same batch.

Gardaí learned Glynn had used a code name ‘Oscar’ and it became apparent that a number of phone messages on March 29th from that name referred to a hunting hat with ear flaps.

Det Sgt O’Leary said there was an exchange between ‘Oscar’ and another individual about getting a tracker on a car belonging to Gately’s sister on January 16th, 2017 which was consistent with a tracker being put on her car the next day.

There were also questions coming from ‘Oscar’ about the seizing of tracking devices by Gardaí on February 23rd, 2017.

Det Sgt O’Leary, the court heard, put Glynn “slightly above” David Duffy and Fowler in the criminal organisation.

Duffy (33) of Greenfort Lawns, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 has already been jailed for providing logistical support to the plot to murder Gately.

‘Circumstantial’ evidence

Glynn has 16 previous convictions, mostly for minor road offences and one for possession of drugs for sale and supply.

In mitigation, defence counsel Shane Costelloe SC asked the court to consider that his client was well-integrated into society, had three children and was very involved in the care for his two elderly parents.

“He is a man who has some prospects when he finishes his sentence,” he added.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, remanded Glynn in custody until February 11th, when he will be sentenced.

In his opening speech, Mr McGinn said the evidence in the case against Glynn was of a “circumstantial” nature involving CCTV, photograph, mobile phone, tracking device, fingerprint and Garda observation evidence.

Glynn is the fifth man to be found guilty in cases relating to the failed bid to murder Gately in Belfast.

In another attempt on his life, Gately survived being shot five times as he sat in his car at the then Topaz petrol station on the Clonshaugh Road in north Dublin on May 10th, 2017.

In February of last year, Caolan Smyth (30) of Cuileann Court, Donore, Co Meath, was sentenced to 20 years at the Special Criminal Court for the attempted murder of Gately and for possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. Smyth had denied both charges.

Gary McAreavey (53) of Gort Nua, Station Road, Castlebellingham, Co Louth, had pleaded not guilty to acting to impede an apprehension or prosecution by purchasing petrol and assisting in the burning out of the vehicle, a black Lexus, used in the attempted murder at Newrath, Dromiskin, Co Louth on the same day.

He received a four-year jail term with the final year suspended.

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