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Cartel's 'notorious' hired gun jailed over bid to murder Hutch mob's 'Mago'

Bizarre lie detector test and citywide feuds of one of most notorious organised crime figures in recent history


Caolan Smyth

Caolan Smyth

Caolan Smyth

One of the country's most dangerous gangland criminals has been convicted of an attempted murder linked to the Hutch-Kinahan feud.

Caolan Smyth (28) is one of the most notorious figures in the recent history of Irish organised crime. He was actively invloved in multiple murderous feuds and survived attempts on his own life, while also plotting to kill his enemies.

Gardaí described his conviction at the Special Criminal Court yesterday as "highly significant".

Smyth was hired by the Kinahan cartel to murder one of their biggest targets - James 'Mago' Gately - in May 2017, but the Hutch gang associate was saved when four of the bullets fired by Smyth hit the bullet proof vest Gately was wearing.

The attempted murder happened as Gately (32) sat in his car at the Topaz filling station on the Clonshaugh Road in north Dublin at lunchtime on May 10, 2017.

The Lexus car which Smyth used in the attempted murder had diplomatic plates and was previously owned by the Pakistani embassy.


Apart from his involvement in the deadly Hutch-Kinahan feud, which has claimed 18 lives, Smyth was also an active participant in the bitter Coolock feud in 2019 which led to five men being shot dead in north Dublin.

He has been formally warned by gardaí on numerous occasions about an active threat against his life.

Smyth, who is originally from Artane on the capital's northside, has been investigated for involvement in the double-cross murder of drug dealer Sean Little.

The 22-year-old was lured to Walshestown Road, Balbriggan, where he was murdered late on the night of May 21, 2019, when he was shot multiple times in the head.

As tensions increased in the weeks after this, Smyth fled the country. While he was away, he sent associates of Little the results of a bizarre lie detector test which he claimed proved he wasn't involved in the killing.

Chillingly, however, Smyth's efforts to prove his innocence were rebuffed by Little's associates who released a copy of the lie detector report on social media - alongside the picture which had been altered with the words: "You can send us all the lie detectors you want you dirty dog ... you're dead".

Smyth was lucky to escape with his life on the afternoon of September 14, 2019, when armed members of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau were involved in a dramatic intervention in the Artane area and arrested Sean Little's father, Stephen Little (47), and major criminal Edward McDonnell (56) from Tallaght.

Stephen Little had vowed to avenge the murder of his beloved son Sean.

Earlier that day, a vehicle linked to the duo had been observed by undercover gardaí carrying out surveillance at Pearse Street flats - a location where Smyth had been living at the time with his partner.

Gardaí believe Smyth was to be shot dead that Sunday afternoon - which was the day of the 2019 All-Ireland football final.

When arrested by armed officers, Stephen Little told gardaí: "Had you given me another hour, I would have killed the b*****d that killed him. I have lost my marriage and my son."

Little and McDonnell were caught with a Grand Power G9 semi-automatic pistol at Lein Park, Harmonstown, when armed officers pounced.

Little was jailed for six years and McDonnell for nine at the Special Criminal Court earlier this year.

The court heard that gardaí recovered a loaded handgun under the passenger seat of an Audi car on the day before McDonnell was forcibly removed from the vehicle. Little had driven McDonnell to the scene.

While Smyth had a lucky escape on that occasion, he continued to be a major target for gardaí and his gangland rivals.


While living in the flats complex in the south inner city, Pearse Street gardaí had to increase armed patrols in the vicinity after setting up a special policing plan to deal with the gangster's presence in the area.

Smyth also became embroiled in feuding incidents in Ballymun and Finglas due to his close association with a drug dealing gang operating in the area.

Sources said his behaviour was causing huge concern to specialist gardaí before he was eventually rearrested and charged in October, 2019, with the attempted murder of James 'Mago' Gately.

It is understood the Kinahan Cartel enlisted Smyth for this murder bid because at the time he had a relatively low profile in terms of organised crime.

Also enlisted for a role in the job was Gary McAreavey (53) of Gort Nua, Station Road, Castlebellingham, Co Louth, who previously had links to dissident Republicans.

McAreavey was found guilty at the Special Criminal Court of acting to 'impede an apprehension or prosecution by purchasing petrol and assisting in the burning out of the Lexus used in the attempted murder' at Dromiskin, Co Louth on the same day.

The court found McAreavey was on the phone to Smyth after the shooting, met him in Co Louth with a container of fuel and went with him to the 'burn site' for the 'comprehensive destruction' of the vehicle used.

It also found he lied to gardaí when he said he didn't know Caolan Smyth, whose numbers were saved on his phone.


Both men will be sentenced at the non-jury court on January 25.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the case against Smyth was beyond any reasonable doubt that he took part in what was intended to be an "organised murder".

The prosecution case relied on mobile phone locations, phone-use being tied to the car's movements and positive Garda identifications of Smyth from CCTV at the filling station.

Shortly after the attempted murder, McAreavey was spotted on CCTV in Castlebellingham buying petrol, which the non-jury court found was used in the "comprehensive destruction" of the getaway car near Dromiskin.

The judge said Smyth was involved in "an organised hit' which was unsuccessful because Gately had been 'forewarned' of the danger to his life by gardaí and was wearing his bulletproof vest. It was the second attempt on Gately's life in the space of just six weeks.

A month earlier Estonian hitman Imre Arakas (62) was arrested by gardaí after they got information that he had flown into the country to murder Gately for a "five figure sum" which was offered by the Kinahan Cartel.

Arakas is serving six years in jail for conspiring to kill Gately.