Subscriber OnlyCrime & Law

The Hutch gangster the Kinahans couldn’t kill and how his high life was unpicked by Cab

Gately and partner Charlene Lam displayed a relentless appetite for globetrotting and lavish spending while claiming to be in low-paid jobs and in receipt of social welfare

James Gately's legal bid to thwart efforts by the Criminal Assets Bureau to take his home finally ran out of road this week

James “Mago” Gately is still only in his 30s but has been through the gangland mill many times over the last two decades.

Originally from Dublin’s north inner city and a senior member of the Hutch crime gang, Gately has been the subject of several murder attempts. He has been wounded twice but survived.

Gately has also been linked to three murders and has been a prime target of the Kinahan cartel for almost a decade. The organised crime gang paid an Estonian hitman to murder Gately, flying him into Dublin. When the hitman was caught by gardaí, a young Dubliner, Caolan Smyth, was drafted in to replace him. Smyth shot Gately five times in May 2017 but he survived. Smyth is serving 20 years in prison.

Gately may be one of the survivors of Irish gangland’s bloodiest feud, but this week his bid to thwart efforts by the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) to take his home finally ran out of road.

James Gately

In the High Court, Mr Justice Alexander Owens said Gately and his partner Charlene Lam had “spun out” the case for two years longer than it should have taken.

He ruled the couple’s home on Glin Drive in Coolock, north Dublin, was overwhelmingly the proceeds of crime and should be confiscated by the State. The couple, who have two children, also lost a €4,400 women’s Rolex watch and a Volkswagen Golf GTI car.

Gately had tried to fabricate an earnings history with fake records of working as a barber and beauty salon owner. In an unusual case, Gately and Lam were damned not just by records of their lavish spending, but by the gaping holes in those records.

They went on cruises for lengthy periods to exotic destinations, at times with family members – and there was no record of any spending on their bank cards.

A vast extension and high-spec renovations to their home, which should have cost about €450,000, were completed with almost no records of any spending.

When Cab went through the couple’s finances during the period they worked on the house, just €608 of expenditure could be directly linked to the work on the property. Some €408 of that was a payment to the ESB Networks, probably to link the rewired property to the power supply system. Another €200 was paid to a kitchen design company.

The Volkswagen Golf owned by James Gately that was seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau

The property, a former council house, was bought by Gately in 2013 for €125,000, funded by a mortgage of €112,500. Just months after buying the house, an architect, paid in cash, was contracted to draw up plans for a large extension.

Cab told the High Court that “a large two-storey extension” was built to the rear “with an apex roof which joined into the main roof”. The ground floor was further extended by a bay window and porch to the front.

The interior of the house was then “radically reconfigured”, including extended the stairs into a new space in the attic. The front and rear gardens were landscaped, with a rear patio laid. The house included a newly renovated open-plan kitchen with an island and dining area.

New bathrooms were installed as well as a high-spec fitted kitchen. New solar panels were installed on the roof and the house was replumbed, rewired and a new heating system installed. Gately claimed he assembled a “squad” of friends to help him carry out the work slowly between 2015 and 2017.

However, there was evidence before the court that when the house was searched by gardaí at the start of 2016, the renovation work was long completed at that stage, including reinforced hall door and CCTV throughout. There were “expensive doors and windows and other expensive fixtures, fittings and materials”, all paid for with money that left no trace and from no legitimate source the couple could explain.

A quantity surveyor examined the property for Cab and estimated the market rate of the work done was €441,000, though the High Court concluded the job probably could have been done for €250,000.

The court concluded while Lam, a self-employed beautician, had spent more than €6,000 on mortgage payments from her own funds, the source of further mortgage repayments since 2019 were undetermined and the property overwhelmingly represented the proceeds of crime and should be seized.

Mr Justice Owens concluded that Gately’s lifestyle was funded by large sums of money from undisclosed sources, a conclusion supported by intelligence gathered by the Garda. This intelligence found that Gately “is a leading member of the Hutch organised crime group”.

The activities of that group included “the importation and distribution of illegal drugs, armed robbery, murder of rivals and theft”.

Gately was linked to three murders: Aidan Byrne (33), who was shot dead in a Dublin gang feud in February 2010; Finglas gang leader Eamon Dunne (34) who was shot dead in a Cabra pub in April 2010 on the orders of the Kinahan cartel; and David Byrne (33), a member of the Kinahan cartel who was shot dead at the attack on the Regency Hotel, north Dublin, in February 2016.

David Byrne (33), a member of the Kinahan cartel, was shot dead in an attack on the Regency Hotel, north Dublin, in February 2016. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov /

Gately was a pallbearer at the 2015 funeral of Gary Hutch, whose murder by the Kinahan cartel in Spain was the first in the deadly Kinahan-Hutch feud that claimed the lives of 18 people between 2015 and 2018. Hutch and Gately were close friends and both were among a group of Hutch gang members that were originally part of the Kinahan cartel.

When Gary Hutch tried, and failed, in a bid to kill cartel leader Daniel Kinahan in Spain, he and Gately fell foul of the cartel. After Hutch was murdered in Spain, Gately became a main target of the cartel. He has lived under the threat of being shot since 2015.

He spent much of his time in hiding in Northern Ireland, but has also visited and lived in his native Dublin, even at the height of the feud. During one such visit to Dublin he was saved by the bulletproof vest he was wearing when he was shot five times while sitting in his car at a service station in Clonshaugh, north Dublin.

Only one bullet hit him, in the neck-jaw area. He was previously wounded in 2008; he was with Derek “Del Boy” Hutch, a brother of Gary Hutch, when a gunman opened fire on them.

Throughout his teenage years and during the period he was a target of the Kinahan cartel, Gately enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. He served most of an apprenticeship to be a plumber, but he turned his back on that work in 2007.

Though he was in receipt of social welfare in subsequent years, Cab presented evidence to the High Court showing that he had no difficulty funding the purchase of motorbikes and cars, including a Mercedes Benz E200 and Audi A3, even before his house purchase, extension and renovation project.

It was his and Lam’s globetrotting that proved to the court that their lifestyles were funded with money from criminal sources.

There were multiple trips to Manchester for soccer matches, a month-long jaunt to Croatia, multiple holidays in places such as Ibiza, Amsterdam, Poland, Treviso, Alicante, Verona, Montpellier, Madrid and Lake Garda. There was a Caribbean cruise during a 16-day period over Christmas and new year 2016-2017, and a cruise from Singapore to Shanghai, with a 16-day itinerary over Christmas-new year 2018-2019.

There were records of spending on flights but, once abroad, their payment cards went almost untouched.

This led the High Court to conclude their lives were funded from the proceeds of crime, especially as Gately often claimed to be earning just €600 a week as a barber and saving two-thirds of that.

Would you buy a home seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau?Opens in new window ]

The court did note evidence that Lam received social welfare payments, including children’s allowance and back-to-work benefits, totalling €24,000 a year in some years. But that income – and an annual beautician income of between €6,000 and €13,000 that she claimed to earn – fell far short of the vast sums the couple were spending.

In January 2016, some €36,697 was lodged into Lam’s account, which she said came from a personal injuries award.

All the money was spent by May, with no proof of where it had gone – a familiar feature in the lives of Gately and Lam, who will soon be looking for a new home.