Caolan Smyth (30) was given a 20-year sentence earlier this year for the gun attack on Hutch associate James ‘Mago’ Gately. The victim was shot five times outside a filling station in north Dublin in May 2017 but miraculously survived.
He was targeted by the Kinahan cartel who blame him for involvement in the 2016 Regency Hotel murder, a crime for which Gately hasn’t been arrested.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt said Smyth showed proficiency in the use of the weapon and a striking feature of the case was that the shooting took place on a sunny afternoon in a suburban garage.
He was jailed for 20 years and, as he was being led away, Smyth told his family members sitting in court: “Five World Cups, and I’ll be out”.
However Smyth is now hoping to be released much sooner after challenging his conviction for attempted murder and his case is expected to be heard in March by the Court of Criminal Appeal.
Smyth’s accomplice, Gary McAreavey (54) of Gort Nua, Castlebellingham, Co Louth, has also lodged a conviction appeal which will be heard on the same date.
He is serving a three-year sentence having been convicted of acting to impede an apprehension or prosecution by purchasing petrol used to burn out the getaway car.
The case against the two men relied on CCTV footage and mobile phone data which is expected to be among the grounds of appeal.
Smyth, considered a gun-for-hire, is currently serving his jail term in the maximum security Portlaoise Prison where sources say he is “keeping the head down” ahead of his appeal.
While under investigation for the Gately shooting he was also heavily involved in organised crime in Coolock and Ballymun.
In May 2019 Sean Little (22) was found shot dead in a burnt-out car near Walshestown, north Dublin, in a murder linked to a local feud which claimed five lives.
Little’s associates blamed a number of people, including Smyth, for involvement in the killing and he even took a lie-detector test in the UK to prove his innocence.
However, he was still a target and in September 2019 gardaí intervened just as a hit-team planned to shoot Smyth at his Artane home.
Sean Little’s father Stephen was later jailed for six years for firearms possession. He told gardaí who arrested him: “Had you given me another hour I would have killed the bastard that killed him.”
Gardaí also investigated a separate conspiracy to murder Smyth in 2019, but the planned shooting never went ahead.
The following month, Caolan Smyth was re-arrested and charged with the attempted murder of James Gately. At this stage at least two other Coolock criminals were actively targeting Smyth.
The threats led to Smyth being placed in protective custody and on 23-hour lockdown while on remand in the Midlands Prison.
During sentencing Mr Justice Hunt described him as a “dangerous criminal” who associated and worked in tandem with criminals of a similar variety.
Speaking after the sentencing, lead investigator Supt Eddie Carroll said it showed their determination in targeting serious crime.
“It shows An Garda Síochána’s determination, commitment and overall ability to tackle organised crime of this nature,” he said.