NewsCrime Desk

Kinahan cartel hitmen 'used ex-diplomat car' as getaway vehicle after 'Mago' murder attempt

James Gately
James Gately

The getaway car used by a Kinahan hit team had diplomatic plates, according to a report.

The vehicle, a black Lexus, fled the scene of the failed hit in north Dublin on Wednesday.

The car, which had an 08-D registration, was previously owned by a diplomatic corps according to the Irish Sun.

The tinted-window Lexus was reportedly purchased by a man using fake identification, who failed to re-register the car.

This car was then used by the hit team in the attempt on James Gately's life at a Topaz service station on the Clonshaugh road.

The specialist number plates attached to the car allowed the Hutch henchman's potential killers to park where they pleased.

"The car was sold through the normal legal process but whoever bought it never changed the plates," a source told the paper.

"It used to belong to a member of the diplmatic corps in the capital.

"The gangs are buying more cars online now and using fake ID because it's much easier than stealing cars and storing them.

"Using diplomatic plates would have given the gang more cover if they were moving around Dublin and along the border."

The scene of the shooting

The Lexus was found burnt-out later on Wednesday in Co Louth, according to a garda Superintendent who made a public appeal for information after the shooting.

"We are making an appeal in relation to the car involved in this [attack], which was a black Lexus, with an 08-D registration number, and we believe that that car has been recovered burnt out in Ardee, Co Louth," Superintendent Murphy said.

"Our appeal is for anybody who was on the Clonshaugh Road or in the filling station at around 1.30pm, anyone on the Clonshagh roundabout who may have seen dangerous driving of a black Lexus car or anyone who might have seen a car on the M50/N1 junction heading toward Ardee.

"We have spoken to people in the forecourt, in the shop and around the [Clayton] hotel. We're appealing for anyone in the area at the time, anyone with a dashcam on their car or anyone who witnessed bad driving from an 08-D black Lexus [to come forward]."

The Kinahan cartel made Gately their number-one target after an 'internal investigation' decided that he was one of three men dressed in ERU uniforms at the Regency Hotel.

Just last month, gardai foiled an attempt on Gately's life.

Shop owner Gately has spent most of the last few months out of the country in a bid to dodge cartel hitmen - including spending time in Asia and Northern Ireland.

However, when he travelled from his suspected base in the North to Dublin on Wednesday, the gunmen were waiting.

Sources claim gunmen in a black car pulled up behind him before one got out and fired a number of shots through the driver-side window, hitting Gately up to four times.

It is reported that he was struck three times in the upper body and once in the neck. Gardai confirmed that the victim was "shot a number of times".

It is believed that Gately was wearing a bullet-proof vest, which is suspected to have saved his life.

Recent intelligence suggests that the cartel brought in hundreds of GPS tracking devices to place on the cars of their key targets, in order to build up a picture of any routine. 

Officers have warned those who have received Garda Information Messages (GIMs) to check their cars regularly.

Gately has received a number of GIMs since the Regency Hotel attack in February 2016.

'Mago' once had strong links to the Kinahan cartel but cut ties with them after his friend Gary Hutch was murdered in Spain in September 2015.

Gately was one of the men who carried Hutch's coffin when he was laid to rest in Dublin.

Gately is from the north-inner city and runs a small grocery shop there.

He regularly travels to Asia with his partner and children.

He was arrested by gardai last May, along with Patrick Hutch Jnr, after a high-speed chase which ended on the Malahide Road.

Patrick Hutch Jnr was later charged with the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016, while Gately was released without charge.

Gately was, however, charged for fleeing a garda checkpoint in that incident and appeared in court last month to plead with the judge not to take his driver's licence away as he faced a 'serious threat' to his life.

However, the judge paid no heed to his plea and convicted him of dangerous driving. He was fined €500 and disqualified for two years.

Gately has previously been quizzed in connection with the assassination of Eamon 'the Don' Dunne in 2010. He was never charged in relation to that shooting.