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Hard time 'bomb'? Lax security at private prison means Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh can direct criminal activities from behind bars

The Kinahan cartel lieutenant, who is awaiting sentencing on drug-trafficking charges, is an inmate at HMP Dovegate, in Staffordshire, alongside notorious British gangsters.

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Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh is serving time at Dovegate Prison.

Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh is serving time at Dovegate Prison.

HMP Dovegate has made news over inmates running criminal enterprises.

HMP Dovegate has made news over inmates running criminal enterprises.

The swish house in which Thomas Kavanagh lived before his arrest.

The swish house in which Thomas Kavanagh lived before his arrest.

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Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh is serving time at Dovegate Prison.

Gangland boss Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh will still be able to direct criminal activities from behind bars if he follows the lead of his fellow inmates at the English prison where he's currently locked up.

The Kinahan cartel lieutenant, who is awaiting sentencing on drug-trafficking charges, is an inmate at HMP Dovegate, in Staffordshire, alongside notorious British gangsters.

The prison, which is operated by private company Serco, has hit the headlines on numerous occasions in recent months after it emerged that high-profile prisoners were continuing to direct activities ranging from ordering gangland hits to operating extensive drug networks from behind bars.

It was also hit with a major Covid-19 outbreak in recent months. Prisoners at Dovegate were forced into strict lockdown measures in January after 150 inmates and staff test positive for the virus.

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HMP Dovegate has made news over inmates running criminal enterprises.

HMP Dovegate has made news over inmates running criminal enterprises.

HMP Dovegate has made news over inmates running criminal enterprises.

The prison has also had to deal with inmate deaths from drugs and suicides.

In January, prison bosses said they would take on board "any lessons that can be learnt" following in inquest into the death of an inmate who died of suicide by hanging, four hours after arriving at the prison.

On the positive front, Kavanagh will show off his entrepreneurial skills at Dovegate after the prison announced last month that it planning to launch a Dragon's Den competition for inmates.

Dovegate does Dragon's Den will see inmates create a business plan to pitch to a panel of department heads from the prison.

A spokesperson for the prison said: "The winner will have assistance in developing an actual business to launch after finishing their sentence."

It is unclear at present if Kavanagh is planning to show off his business acumen to the panel.

Affluent

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Kavanagh, who is currently serving a sentence relating to a stun gun, is facing a hefty sentence for drug trafficking, but he will have to wait five months for his sentencing after massive delays caused by Covid-19 and due to a dispute over the basis of his plea.

The prison is a far cry from his luxury home in the affluent suburb of Tamworth, near Birmingham, where he had based himself for years after moving from Ireland in the 1990s.

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The swish house in which Thomas Kavanagh lived before his arrest.

The swish house in which Thomas Kavanagh lived before his arrest.

The swish house in which Thomas Kavanagh lived before his arrest.

While the surroundings may not be what he is used to, Kavanagh will be familiar with the type of criminal activity his fellow inmates are involved in, and recent events have shown they have been able to continue involvement in directing crime from Dovegate.

Last month, a court heard how a convicted killer ran a drugs operation from his cell.

Liam Whitnell, who is serving life for a gang murder, used smuggled mobile phones to direct his Gosport Essex Boys gang on the outside who were supplying crack cocaine and heroin across Hampshire.

Police investigated the operation and seized £275,000 (€317,000) of class A drugs along with almost £75,000 in cash. They also seized phones which identified 23 occasions where arrangements were made for members of the gang to travel to London to collect drugs.

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Liam Whitnell

Liam Whitnell

Liam Whitnell

Whitnell used 10 different phones smuggled into the prison to direct the operation.

He was sentenced to nine years for conspiracy to supply class A drugs, while five other gang members received sentence ranging from five to 10 years.

In a letter handed in at his sentencing hearing, Whitnell said running the operation "took my mind away from these bars and walls, it made me feel alive again".

Whitnell, who has been moved out of Dovegate as a result of the investigation, was previously moved from another prison after he posted pictures of a birthday cake smuggled into his cell and commented: "Who said prison was hard."

Whitnell was not the only drug baron running operations from Dovegate.

In February, a gangster's moll was jailed after she allowed her boyfriend, Lee Worthington, to use her tanning salon as a headquarters for his heroin-, crack cocaine- and ecstasy-dealing operation which he directed from Dovegate.

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Lee Worthington.

Lee Worthington.

Lee Worthington.

Samantha Cox, who was jailed for five years and five months for conspiracy to supply class A drugs, let her salon in Salford, Greater Manchester, be used as a base for a dial-a-drug operation run by Worthington from Dovegate using smuggled mobile phones.

Police who had the operation under surveillance said there were almost 12,000 calls to the drug hotline over a six-week period averaging 253 calls per day.

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Lee Worthington's girlfriend Samantha Cox

Lee Worthington's girlfriend Samantha Cox

Lee Worthington's girlfriend Samantha Cox

Prosecutor Adrian Farrow told Manchester Crown Court: "Even though he was in prison, Lee Worthington was, largely by the use of illicit mobile phones, able to maintain close contact with those involved in the supply of heroin and cocaine in the Salford area.

''He also used a network of individuals who were in various ways connected to HMP Dovegate, to arrange for the proceeds of drug dealing in Salford to be transferred in a way which meant that it was difficult to trace, but no doubt held available safely and inconspicuously to be called on at a later date."

In December, it emerged that another gangster serving time in Dovegate tried to hire a notorious gunman to shoot two rivals from behind bars.

Darren Russell, who is serving a 20-year sentence for a drive-by shooting, called his girlfriend while in Dovegate to try to hire Merseyside criminal Alan 'Docker' Daniels to shoot two criminals who had shot at his father's house.

Favour

In a phone call from the prison which was recorded Russell told his girlfriend: "want you to get in touch with Alan, yeah....Alan Docker...tell him what's happened with me dad. Tell him he needs to do me a big favour man, a favour for a favour.

"...just say you know who I'm on about, his ma lives round the corner from you, do me a favour..."

The plot failed as Docker had been arrested for shooting a farmer in a raid on a property in Lancashire three days before Russell's phone call.

The prison also has a major drugs issue.

Last year, inspectors from HM Inspectorate of Prisons released a report revealing Dovegate was blighted by drugs and violence but had improved from a previous visit by inspectors in 2017 when there were worse problems.

The report said violent incidents were regularly linked to drugs and debt.

"Work was in place to address violence, although more needed to be done to ensure it was sufficiently impactful, as the number of violent incidents, some of them serious, continued to fluctuate," the report found.

Kavanagh will have to wait months to be sentenced on drug-trafficking and money- laundering charges.

Kavanagh (53), as well as Gary Vickery (38) and Daniel Canning (42), pleaded guilty to conspiring to import class A and B drugs, and money laundering, at Ipswich Crown Court last July.

Canning also admitted possessing a firearm and ammunition following a major four-year National Crime Agency and Garda investigation. The Criminal Assets Bureau say they are part of the international Kinahan drugs Cartel.

Kavanagh's sentencing has been delayed due to Covid-19 and due to a dispute over the basis of his plea.


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