Sunday 21 July 2019

Top Kinahan associate Kavanagh faces five years in prison over stun gun, court hears

51-year-old suspected of running lucrative drugs patch in the UK

Suspect: Kinahan gang associate Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh. Photo:
Suspect: Kinahan gang associate Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh. Photo:
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

One of the Kinahan cartel's most senior associates faces a minimum of five years in jail after appearing in court in England on a firearms charge following an international investigation into drug-trafficking and money-laundering.

Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh (51) appeared at North Staffordshire Magistrates Court after a combination torch and stun gun was discovered during a search targeting his alleged trafficking network in Britain.

He was initially granted conditional bail on the charge but the prosecution appealed that decision and it will now be heard by the Crown Court today. Exiting court, Mr Kavanagh was photographed carrying a book written by 'The Godfather' author Mario Puzo, entitled 'The Dark Arena'.

Mr Kavanagh has been a long-term target of several national Garda units and is suspected of controlling a lucrative drugs patch in the British Midlands. Sources have described the operation between UK police and gardaí as one of the most significant joint criminal investigations between the two countries.

On Saturday, members of the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA), helped by gardaí, searched Mr Kavanagh's mansion in the affluent Staffordshire neighbourhood of Tamworth.

Evidence given by Diane MacKriel, of the Crown Prosecution Service, was that it took police "nine to 10 minutes to gain access to the house because it was heavily fortified".

She said the minimum sentence for possessing the stun gun was five years. She also said that the house contained CCTV screens showing 360-degree footage of the house. Ms MacKriel outlined a number of other weapons that were found and showed photographs of them to the magistrates' bench.

These included an extendable baton, a device called a skull crusher, and a knife that, when held in the hand, had blades extended out between the fingers. She objected to bail on the basis that the prosecution felt Mr Kavanagh was a flight risk.

John Greenwood, Mr Kavanagh's legal representative, said the stun gun that his client was charged with being in possession of was brought into the country by his then 16-year-old son from a school tour to China.

He said that Mr Kavanagh had taken it and put it up on top of cupboards in the kitchen for safekeeping when his eight-year-old son came into the room with it.

Mr Greenwood said that when Mr Kavanagh asked the older son how he got the stun gun, and two others, into the country he said the school teachers had known about them and "turned a blind eye".

Mr Greenwood said his client also stood to lose his home, as well as the family business, if not granted bail.

He said Mr Kavanagh was prepared to obey bail conditions if necessary.

Magistrates decided to allow bail on condition that Mr Kavanagh wear an electronic tag and adhere to a curfew and sign on regularly at a police station.

But the prosecution immediately appealed and the bail hearing will go forward to the Crown Court today.

The NCA has said Mr Kavanagh was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to import and supply drugs, firearms and ammunition, as well as money-laundering offences.

While he has not yet been charged over the long-running investigation into his alleged trafficking enterprise, UK police discovered the stun gun during the searches on Saturday. The weapon is illegal to own and possess in the UK.

Originally from Drimnagh in Dublin, Mr Kavanagh has been a long-time associate of the Kinahan cartel. Kavanagh is related to top cartel lieutenant Liam Byrne through marriage.

Irish Independent

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