toppled | 

The fall of mob boss Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh and his empire built on murder and greed

Other pictures show a collection of tan and black-coloured designer handbags from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Moschino and Gucci and each is stuffed with rolls of cash in euros and sterling and totalling almost €10,000.

Cash found in hand bags. Photo: NCA

Nicola Tallant

He was once the most powerful crime lord in Ireland who oversaw a massive drug mob engaged in two murderous feuds.

But today the mighty Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh fell and with him a carefully constructed empire built on murder and greed.

Countless victims of his violence and many innocent gun victims like tourist Trevor O’Neill and homeless man Martin O’Rourke, killed in cases of mistaken identity, were not there to see the end of his brutal reign.

But many can rest easier now he starts a massive 21-year sentence for drugs and money laundering offences comforted by the fact that the law finally caught up with him.

Amongst the countless pages and photographs contained in the book of evidence presented to Ipswich Crown Court it’s the ones taken at ‘Bombers’ Tamworth mansion that speak volumes about the man.

One, taken in the bedroom shows what officers found between the bed and the locker; a collection of 30 weapons including baseball bats, knives, a steel extendable baton, a cosh, martial arts weapons, knives, flick-knives, a hatchet, an axe and swords.

Weapons found at Sutton Road. Photo: NCA

The bedroom itself is furnished with ornate cream and gold dressing tables, lockers and a bed in Louis XII style.

A display of white flowers sits in a huge vase while suits, clothing and other items litter the tables. Thick gold sparkle-encrusted wallpaper gives the bedroom a peculiar nightclub vibe.

Other pictures show a collection of tan and black-coloured designer handbags from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Moschino and Gucci and each is stuffed with rolls of cash in euros and sterling and totalling almost €10,000.

Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh shortly after his arrest. Image: NCA

It will be a long time until Bomber sees his weapons collection again or indeed bundles wads of cash into his wife’s handbag collection for safe keeping. He has far less luxury surrounds for at least the next decade as he serves time for his crimes.

‘Bomber’ called ‘The Gaffer’ by his drug lieutenants and co-accused Gary Vickery and Daniel Canning sat stone faced at Ipswich Crown Court this morning as Mr Justice Martyn Levett, with impeccable English manners, explained why he had to give him an appropriate sentence for his crimes.

Joanne Byrne, wife of Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh leaving Ispwich court

From the oft, Justice Levett didn’t pull any punches and indicated that he was considering between 20 and 30 years for the head of the ‘sophisticated’ drug operation. It was clear that there would be no easy ride for any of the three men in the dock.

Detailing the various charges facing the trio of drugs, money laundering and a weapons charge which Canning had pleaded guilty too, Justice Levett opened by pointing out how Gardai had been central to the demise of Kavanagh and his cronies.

He told the court that a search in Dublin in January 2017, which was conducted by officers from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, netted the key to blowing open the operation in the UK.

The search uncovered Kavanagh’s weapons stash including a Kalashnikov, an Uzi sub-machine gun, numerous silencers and revolvers.

Daniel Canning, Thomas Kavanagh and Gary Vickery

The guns were primed and ready for use and officers believed that they had been shipped in to up the murder count in the Kinahan and Hutch feud, which Kavanagh was helping Daniel Kinahan directly.

Amongst documents seized that day was one which linked back to a legitimate UK freight company which it turned out Kavanagh had mirrored in order to transport drugs and weapons into the West Midlands.

An investigation by the National Crime Agency was launched after gardai shared their intelligence with their UK counterparts.

Aggravating factors considered during sentencing, the Judge said, included the successful nature of the drug importation carousel and the fact that there had been multiple imports within a year, 23 in total were considered by the court.

Justice Levett said the fact that a business had been used as cover, machinery had been transformed to carry drugs and cash and go undetected from customs x-rays, the very substantial gains, high purity of the cocaine seized and the significant effort that went in to avoid detection all went against the men.

Gun-bag found inside transformer. Photo: NCA

“Each played a leading role,” the Judge said. “Each played that role in purchasing the drugs on a commercial scale and each had close links with the original source of the chain. From the sums of money found it is clear that there was substantial financial gains.”

While Kavanagh’s barrister asked for a third reduction in sentence for his guilty plea he was only given 20 per cent and the time he has already served on a firearm charge since September 2nd, 2019 was not taken into account.

The judge sentenced him to 27 years, reduced to 21 with eight and two year sentences to run concurrently. He told him he would serve half and then be released on licence back to the community and that a proceeds of crime case will follow immediately.

He said that Kavanagh would have to list all his assets, all over the world, and submit that to court where it will be heard next year.

Daniel Canning, Thomas Kavanagh and Gary Vickery

Canning, the only of the three with no previous convictions was next to be sentenced He was given 18 years for the drugs offences reduced to 14 and a half years and with 8 and one year concurrent for other counts including the money laundering charge. A further five years for a weapons conviction brought his total sentence up to 19 and a half years.

Gary Vickery must have know what was coming having seen the fate of his pals. Standing in the middle of the two he was handed down 20 years on drug offences .

“Your total is 20 years,” he was told, “which you will serve half and then the rest on licence. This reflects the seriousness of these offences.

All three will have to detail their assets to the courts by May and with the case up for mention in October 2023.

As they were led away Bomber chatted briefly with Vickery, the man listed as his direct subordinate in the operation. Canning, whose phone messages, led to others in the group never spoke throughout the proceedings nor as he was led away.

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