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Criminals who tried to murder James ‘Mago’ Gately believed he was involved in Regency Hotel attack

Detective Garda Tony Kennedy told the three-judge, non-jury court that the Regency attack was followed by a series of reprisals and attempted reprisals.

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James 'Mago' Gately

James 'Mago' Gately

James 'Mago' Gately

Criminals who attempted to murder James 'Mago' Gately believed he was involved in the attack at the Regency Hotel in February 2016 in which Kinahan gang member David Byrne was shot dead, a garda has told the Special Criminal Court.

Detective Garda Tony Kennedy told the three-judge, non-jury court that the Regency attack was followed by a series of reprisals and attempted reprisals.

Gately, the garda said, is believed by the gang "to be a suspect in that murder at the Regency Hotel."

This was the context for the plot to murder Gately in 2017, the garda said.

Det Gda Kennedy was giving evidence today at a sentence hearing for 34-year-old David 'Blinky' Duffy who pleaded guilty last April to having knowledge of the existence of a criminal organisation and participating in or contributing to activities connected with an offence, namely the murder of James Gately, with the intention of enhancing the ability of the said criminal organisation or any of its members to commit the serious offence within the State between December 7, 2016 and April 6, 2017.

Det Gda Kennedy told Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, that Duffy was at the lower end of the middle rung in the foiled operation to murder Gately.

He provided "logistical" support by moving vehicles around and by purchasing tracker devices.

Duffy was, the garda said, acting under instructions from others and when asked if there was any evidence that Duffy knew that the gang was planning to commit murder, the garda said: "Mr Duffy is the only one who could tell you that."

Det Gda Kennedy told Dominic McGinn SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), that the offence was carried out "in the context of the aftermath of the shooting at the Regency."

Imre Arakas, an Estonian, was brought to Ireland to murder Gately on behalf of the gang, the garda said. Arakas (62) was jailed for six years in December 2018, having pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to murder Gately in Northern Ireland between April 3 and 4, 2017.

Arakas was arrested before the planned attack on Gately could be carried out.

A later murder attempt resulted in Gately being shot multiple times by Caolan Smyth (30) of Cuileann Court, Donore, Co Meath.

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Smyth was sentenced to 20 years last February for attempted murder.

Gately, the court heard, wore a bullet proof vest and survived the attack despite being shot five times.

The detective said that gardai had discovered Duffy's role in the Arakas plot after phone evidence showed he was travelling in convoy with others known or believed to have been involved on different dates.

Duffy also booked a flight for one of the suspected plotters and moved a blue Peugeot car from a carpark at Dublin Airport that was subsequently driven by another man to Belfast and used to surveil Gately.

There was also evidence from Duffy's phone that on the day Arakas was arrested, Duffy was driving nearby.

A Satnav from another suspect's car also showed similarities with Duffy's movements.

Duffy's phone showed that he and another suspect discussed booking a hotel room on the day that a tracker device was activated to track Gately's movements.

On April 6, 2017 another suspect was arrested and when Duffy became aware of that, he appeared to have booked a ticket for a ferry from Dublin to Holyhead that was to be used by another suspect.

When Duffy's home was searched on April 12, 2017 gardaí found a number of mobile phones, an Irish Ferries receipt for the journey to Holyhead and three tracking devices that had not yet been deployed.

Duffy has 18 previous convictions, the garda said, mostly for road traffic offences.

He received a five-year sentence with the final two-and-a-half years suspended in 2018 for an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Mr O'Higgins asked the judges to consider his client's early guilty plea and his history of "serious underlying alcoholic issues and drug dependency."

Duffy left school after doing his junior certificate exams and had a "fairly decent employment record" until 2013, Mr O'Higgins said.

He began gambling in his late teens, counsel said, and developed an addiction to cocaine aged 18.

His mother and partner are supportive, counsel said. While serving his sentence for the drug offence, Mr O'Higgins said his client had achieved a number of certificates and was making "substantive efforts" with the Beacon of Light drug rehabilitation centre.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh, adjourned sentencing until July 30.

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