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Jailed Kinahan hitman Robert Browne forced partner to hide €50k of drugs in home

Clare O'Connor (35) was going out with British solider turned Kinahan cartel member Robert Browne (39), jailed for a plot to kill Patsy Hutch

Clare O’Connor

Alan Sherry

A Kinahan cartel gunman, who is serving time for a plot to murder Patsy Hutch, pressured his girlfriend into storing almost €50k of drugs while he was behind bars, just months after she was caught trying to smuggle drugs to him in prison.

Clare O'Connor (35), of the Horizon Building, Ashtown, Dublin 15, was given a four-year suspended sentence after she pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to having various drugs at her home, with a total street value of €47,407, on November 17, 2019.

The Sunday World can reveal that O'Connor was going out with former British solider turned Kinahan cartel member Robert Browne (39), who is serving a 11-and-a-half year sentence for a plot to kill Patsy Hutch in 2018.

O'Connor was previously convicted for trying to smuggle heroin and cannabis into Browne in Mountjoy Prison on February 6, 2019. She was given a three-month suspended sentence for that offence.

Robert Browne was jailed for 11-and-a-half years

Browne, who is originally from Hardwicke Street flats but has an address at Phibsborough Road, Dublin, was part of a three-man hit team who were arrested with four firearms at Belmont Hall Apartments, Gardiner Street in Dublin on March 10, 2018.

He has involvement with the cartel dating back 20 years and had links to senior Kinahan associates, including Ross Browning.

Browne, along with Finglas brothers Gary and Glen Thompson, were just 250 metres from Patsy Hutch's house when heavily-armed gardaí swooped in and foiled their assassination plot.

Gary Thompson

Browne and the Thompsons were being secretly recorded in the run-up to the plot and in one recording they discussed how the "cartel has money all over the world" before Browne told Gary Thompson: "I'll get you €15,000 out of this".

In another recording, Glen Thompson said: "These are the gloves we're using. I'll give you the Makarov. Let me use the Mac thing because I'll be getting out as well."

Browne replied: "I'll use the small one, you use the 38 - I just want something, just in case."

Browne added: "What I want is to get in the van with no one seeing us. It's real quiet there, especially with them guards."

He also discussed how there could be people in the area paid to watch Patsy's back.

Patsy Hutch

Browne later pleaded guilty to a number of offences related to the murder plot and was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years in 2019. However, he continued his involvement in crime while behind bars.

Even though O'Connor was caught trying to bring contraband into Browne in Mountjoy in February 2019, she was still storing drugs at her apartment nine months later under his direction

Garda Brian O'Toole agreed with Anne Marie Lawlor SC, defending, that at the time of her arrest O'Connor was in a relationship with a violent offender who had been jailed for conspiracy to commit murder. While the violent offender was not named in court, the Sunday World has established it was Browne.

Gda O'Toole accepted that this man had "enormous control" over O'Connor and that she was in great fear of him.

Gda O'Toole further accepted a suggestion from Ms Lawlor that O'Connor was "prevailed upon by him" to bring the drugs into Mountjoy Prison.

He agreed that O'Connor, who has no involvement with the Kinahan cartel, felt herself that she had no option but to make her home available to this man to have drugs stored there.

Gda O'Toole acknowledged that O'Connor "no longer has any dealings with this man" and agreed that he does not expect to see O'Connor before the courts again.

Gda O'Toole told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that gardaí secured a warrant for O'Connor's home on foot of a tip-off. She was there with her three children at the time and "co-operated with the gardaí through the whole process".

The apartment was searched and various drugs were found in different locations, including in a sock, in the water tank, in the hot press and in a school bag in a locked shed on the balcony.

O'Connor later admitted that she had agreed to mind the drugs in the apartment for a day.

Robert Browne (far right) with Trevor Byrne (third from left) pictured celebrating his 40th birthday with (from left to right) Kevin Gibson, Graham Gardiner and Glen Thompson in Mountjoy jail

Gda O'Toole confirmed that 300g of heroin was discovered with a street value €42,784, various tablets worth €2,880, cannabis worth €360, cannabis resin worth €291 and 62 MDMA tablets worth €620.

Ms Lawlor told the court that her client has two children of her own but has also been the carer for her children's 10-year-old cousin since that child was a newborn.

She said that this child has "very profound special needs" and is heavily reliant on O'Connor, adding that if her client went to prison it would be to the "huge detriment" of this little girl.

Judge Martin Nolan acknowledged that O Connor fully co-operated with the gardaí and accepted that she was holding the drugs for third parties.

He accepted evidence that she was "a very good carer to this child and the child depends on the affection and love of this defendant" before he suspended a four-year term of imprisonment.

Since being locked up Browne has had another three months added to his sentence after being caught with a mobile phone.

Last year the Sunday World published pictures of Browne partying behind bars with fellow Kinahan-linked criminals, including Glen Thompson and Trevor Byrne.

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