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Childhood pal of slain Byrne busted on way to carry out revenge

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Richard O’Reilly was a close pal of slain David Byrne

Richard O’Reilly was a close pal of slain David Byrne

Richard O’Reilly was a close pal of slain David Byrne

A close friend of slain Kinahan gangster David Byrne is starting a six-year jail term for possessing a firearm he was planning to use in a revenge attack.

Gardai believe Richard O'Reilly (32) was on his way to carry out a hit for the Kinahan cartel when he was busted with a handgun, ammunition and a can of petrol.

He was sentenced yesterday at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, where it was claimed he went into an "emotional tailspin" after the death of Byrne, who was murdered in the Regency Hotel bloodbath.

O'Reilly had been the subject of a major surveillance operation by detectives in the days before he was arrested.

Bloodbath

Officers believed he was on his way to kill at least one of the Hutch mob, when the car he was travelling in was stopped in Walkinstown on June 18 last year.

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David Byrne

David Byrne

David Byrne

Ross Hutch and a number of his associates were spotted that afternoon watching the Ireland v Belgium game in the European Championships in a city centre pub, which presented an opportunity for the Kinahan side to strike.

However, detectives were aware of O'Reilly's plans.

It is understood he collected a Glock handgun and ammunition from a Kinahan arms depot in Co Kildare shortly before he was arrested.

O'Reilly was a childhood friend of Byrne (33), the gangster who was shot dead by the Hutch mob in the Regency Hotel in February last year.

In the weeks after the murder, it is understood that O'Reilly was warned by gardai about an active threat to his life because of his friendship with the slain hood.

He was a mourner at Byrne's funeral and was spotted in the company of prominent gangsters.

As he sentenced O'Reilly, Judge Martin Nolan noted that he had become involved in the offence owing to the death of his friend and "out of grief" was going to "exact retribution or vengeance".

Intercepted

The court heard how O'Reilly's car was intercepted by armed gardai involved in the surveillance operation. He was wearing gloves and a hooded jacket.

The pistol and ammunition were found in the glove box while a billy can of petrol was discovered in the boot.

Judge Nolan said he could infer from the evidence in the case that if the right occasion had occurred O'Reilly intended to use the weapon.

He said the semi-automatic pistol gardai recovered was "literally a lethal weapon", noting it was a highly effective firearm in good condition.

Defence counsel Michael Bowman said O'Reilly had gone through an "emotional crisis" which had left him vulnerable to those who would use him for their own ends.

He said O'Reilly had identified the death of his friend as the "sole trigger" for the possession of the gun.

O'Reilly, of Windmill Road, Crumlin, Dublin, pleaded guilty to possession of the weapon.

He has one conviction for possession of stolen property and has been in custody since his arrest.

Judge Nolan noted there was substantial mitigation, such as O'Reilly's lack of relevant convictions, his good work record and the fact he was unlikely to appear before the courts again.


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