roadside shooting | 

Hitman who botched bid to murder James 'Mago' Gately faces life in prison

Caolan Smyth is due to be sentenced next month
Caolan Smyth

Caolan Smyth

Robin Schiller

A HITMAN convicted of the attempted murder of Hutch associate James 'Mago' Gately faces up to life imprisonment when he is sentenced next month.

The Special Criminal Court had previously found that Caolan Smyth (29) was the man who shot and seriously injured Gately (32) at a north Dublin filling station four years ago.

He was shot five times as he sat in his car at the Topaz garage on the Clonshaugh Road at lunchtime on May 10, 2017.

Gately, who was warned by gardaí of a threat to his life and wore a bullet-proof vest, survived the shooting but suffered injuries to his upper chest and neck.

The botched murder was linked to the ongoing Hutch/Kinahan feud that has claimed up to 18 lives.

It was the second attempt on Gately's life that year after gardaí foiled a planned hit on him in Belfast.

This morning the case of Caolan Smyth and his co-accused, Gary McAreavey (53), found guilty for his part in the burning of the getaway car, was before the non-jury court for sentencing.

Det Gda Finbarr Fleming, of Santry garda station, said that James Gately had given a statement to gardaí about the shooting but did not come to court to give evidence.

The garda also said he had been in contact with Gately and that he didn't wish to give a victim impact statement.

James ‘Mago’ Gately

James ‘Mago’ Gately

Det Gda Fleming gave evidence that Caolan Smyth, of Cuileann Court, Donore, Co Meath, has 36 convictions, including for burglary, stolen property and the unauthorised taking of a vehicle.

His barrister, John Fitzgerald SC, submitted to the court that Smyth grew up in Coolock and that his parents separated when he was young before moving to Louth at the age of 12.

He was an all-Ireland boxing champion at underage level.

The court heard that the maximum sentence the father-of-three faces is life imprisonment.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt remarked that the offence was "well up the scale".

Smyth had pleaded not guilty to Mr Gately's attempted murder. He had also denied the possession of a firearm but was found guilty on both counts earlier this month.

His co-accused Gary McAreavey, of Gort Nua, Station Road, Castlebellingham, Co Louth, pleaded not guilty to acting to 'impede an apprehension or prosecution by buying petrol and helping burn out the vehicle, a black Lexus, used in the attempted murder at Newrath, Dromiskin, Co Louth on the same day.

The non-jury court heard that McAreavey had a previous conviction relating to the reckless discharge of a legally held firearm.

Det Gda Kevin Rooney, of Santry garda station, accepted that the father-of-two was not involved prior to the commission of the crime.

His barrister, Hugh Hartnett SC, said his client has a disability that prevents him from standing up for long periods.

Det Gda Rooney agreed that McAreavey was not a member of a criminal gang and that while on bail he was always fully compliant.

The court heard that the maximum sentence for impeding the prosecution of investigation is 10 years.

Mr Justice Hunt, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Michael Walsh, adjourned sentencing until February 17.

McAreavey was also remanded in custody, with Mr Justice Hunt saying he did not wish to "excite false hope" by continuing his bail.

The scene where James ‘Mago’ Gately was targeted

The scene where James ‘Mago’ Gately was targeted

The prosecution case relied on mobile phone locations through cell towers and phone-use tied to the car's movements over May 9-10, and positive Garda identifications of Smyth from CCTV at the filling station.

Shortly after the attempted murder, McAreavey was spotted on CCTV in Castlebellingham filling a red petrol can, which the non-jury court found was used in the "comprehensive destruction" of the getaway car near Dromiskin.

Two cartridges were found in the wreckage but the firearm was not recovered.

The getaway car, which had been in the service of the Pakistan embassy and had diplomatically registered plates, had been captured on camera before the shooting without any passenger present.

Today's Headlines

More Courts

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices