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Hitman convicted of attempted murder of James ‘Mago’ Gately faces up to life in prison

Caolan Smyth is due to be sentenced next month

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Caolan Smyth

Caolan Smyth

Caolan Smyth

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 after sustaining injuries to his upper chest and neck.

The botched murder was linked to the ongoing Hutch/Kinahan feud which has claimed up to 18 lives. It was the second attempt on Gately's life that year after gardaí had previously foiled a planned assassination attempt 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.

Det Gda Fleming gave evidence that Caolan Smyth, of Cuileann Court, Donore, Co Meath, has 36 previous convictions.

These included offences for burglary, stolen property and the unauthorised taking of a stolen 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.

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He was an all-Ireland boxing champion at underage level who left school after his Junior Cert and later worked in retail and security.

The court heard that the maximum sentence the father-of-three faces for attempted murder 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 with intent to endanger on the same date and location but was found guilty on both counts earlier this month.

His co-accused Gary McAreavey, of Gort Nua, Station Road, Castlebellingham, Co Louth, had pleaded not guilty to acting to 'impede an apprehension or prosecution by purchasing petrol and assisting in the burning out of 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 for which he was sentenced to 80 hours community service.

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 from a significant injury which 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 was 10 years.

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

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

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 petrol into a red petrol can, which the non-jury court found was used in the “comprehensive destruction” of the getaway car near Dromiskin after Smyth and McAreavey travelled in convoy to the burn-site.

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

he getaway car, which had previously 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.

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