‘Exotic’ lifestyle of James ‘Mago’ Gately funded by crime proceeds, High Court rules

Alleged Hutch associate, shot five times in May 2017, was ‘virtually never in the State’ amid overseas travel

Members of Cab entering Gately's home

A member of the Hutch organised crime gang, James ‘Mago’ Gately, and his partner subsidised their “exotic” lifestyle with crime proceeds, a High Court judge has found. Gately, who survived a number of attempts on his life during the Kinahan-Hutch feud, will now lose assets valued at approximately €600,000.

He is the latest in a series of Dublin-based criminals linked to the Hutch of Kinahan sides of the feud to to targeted by the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) since both sides began their murderous dispute in 2015. In Garda evidence to the High Court, Cab said Gately had been linked to armed robberies, gangland murders and drug dealing.

Ruling on Wednesday, Mr Justice Alexander Owens concluded that the family home of Gately and Charlene Lam at Glin Drive, Coolock, Dublin, was purchased and renovated to a “very high standard” with funds that were “overwhelmingly” crime proceeds.

Gately spent €125,000 on the house in 2013, and the court previously heard that he had spent €440,000 on improvements.

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A Volkswagen Golf and a Rolex watch, which the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) seized in 2019, were also probably purchased with crime proceeds, he said.

The judge said the couple were “virtually never in the State”, but rather spent their time in airport terminals and on cruises of the South Seas and the Caribbean. He believed all of this was funded with proceeds of crime.

His findings in the Cab’s case are based on the civil standard of proof, which is the “balance of probabilities”.

The bureau claimed Mr Gately is heavily involved in organised crime and its barrister, David Dodd, previously said it was not disputed that he was a member of the Hutch organised crime gang. The court was told Mr Gately has been arrested in relation to a number of serious offences, although he was not convicted of them.

The couple denied the allegations and argued the assets were acquired with legitimate funds. They were granted free legal aid to fight the case.

The court heard Mr Gately said he has not worked since 2015 due to a threat on his life – related to the Kinahan-Hutch feud. Their lawyers said Ms Lam, as a self-employed beautician who has no connection with crime, pays general living expenses and the mortgage on the family home.

Mr Gately was shot five times in May 2017 by the driver of a car that pulled up beside him at a petrol station on Clonshaugh Road. Earlier this week the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Kinahan gunman Caolan Smyth (31) for attempted murder.

The Director of Public Prosecutions alleged Smyth, the cartel’s second choice to murder Gately, was the driver and shooter. The cartel’s first choice to murder Gately as part of the feud was Estonian hitman Imre Arakas. He came to Ireland in 2017 but was soon caught by gardaí.

The first person killed in that feud, Gary Hutch, was shot dead in Spain by the Kinahan cartel in September, 2015, in revenge for a botched effort to murder one of the cartel’s leaders, Daniel Kinahan. Gately and Hutch were at one-time close associates of Kinahan’s and were members of the cartel.

However, when Hutch tried to kill Kinahan in Spain in 2014, both he and his close friend Gately – who was a pall bearer at Hutch’s funeral – became targets of the cartel. Gately claimed in his defence of the Cab case against him that threats to his life over the last decade from the Kinahan cartel meant he was unable to work.

In his ruling at the High Court on Wednesday, Mr Justice Owens said he would give Mr Gately and Ms Lam an opportunity to explain how they paid their mortgage between April 2019 and now and he would assess whether this was done using crime proceeds.

The house at Glin Drive was “overwhelmingly” funded with illegitimate funds, but about €6,500 likely came from a payout to Ms Lam from a personal injuries action.

That amount will be deducted from any order he makes concerning their assets and funds, he said. There was also a deduction to be made for the import duty paid on the vehicle, he said.

The judge said he found Ms Lam’s affidavit to the court to be “distinctly unreliable”, and the couple had endless opportunities to explain the situation but “spun out” this case for two years longer than needed.

He gave the bureau’s receiver the power to sell the vehicle and the watch.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is High Court Reporter with The Irish Times

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times