Senior Kinahan 'associate' tells court in UK: 'Stun gun was bought on kid's school trip'
One of the Kinahan cartel's most senior suspected associates appeared in court in England this morning 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 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 tomorrow.
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 British and Irish police agencies 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 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 ten 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 365 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 which when held in the hand had blades extend out between the fingers.
She objected to bail on the basis that the prosecution felt Kavanagh was a flight risk and the charge warranted a five year sentence.
Kavanagh’s legal representative, John Greenwood, 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 from a school tour to China.
He said that Kavanagh had taken it and put it up on top of cupboards in the kitchen for safekeeping when his 8-year-old son came into the room with it.
Mr Greenwood said that when 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 Kavanagh was prepared to obey bail conditions if necessary.
The Magistrates decided to allow bail on condition that 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 tomorrow.
The NCA has said he was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to import and supply drugs, firearms and ammunition, as well as money-laundering offences.
He has not yet been charged over the long-running investigation into his trafficking enterprise.
Originally from Drimnagh in Dublin, Kavanagh has been a long-time associate of the Kinahan cartel. He has rarely returned to Dublin since leaving almost 10 years ago after being targeted by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).