The trial of a man accused of being involved in a Kinahan cartel plot to murder rival Hutch gang member James "Mago" Gately opened at the Special Criminal Court on Tuesday.
Douglas Glynn (37) of Fitzgibbon Court, Dublin 1, appeared at the non-jury court pleading not guilty to his involvement in the plot to murder Mr Gately by placing a tracker device on his car in Belfast.
The charge alleges that between December 7th, 2016, and April 6th, 2017, both dates inclusive, within and outside the State, with knowledge of the existence of a criminal organisation, and with the intention of enhancing the ability of the said criminal organisation, or any of its members, to commit a crime or a serious offence, namely the murder of James Gately, he participated in or contributed to activities connected with the said offence.
Stephen Fowler (62), of Blakestown Cottages in Clonsilla, Dublin 15 and David Duffy (33) of Greenfort Lawns, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 have already been jailed for providing logistical support to the plot to murder Mr Gately. Estonian hitman Imre Arakas (63) was jailed by the Special Criminal Court for six years in December 2018, after he admitted to conspiring with others to murder Gately in Northern Ireland between April 3rd and 4th, 2017.
In September, Peter Keating (40) of Rowlagh Green, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 was jailed for 11 years after he pleaded guilty in late June to directing the activities of a criminal organisation between December 7th, 2016, and April 6th, 2017, within and outside the State relating to the targeting of Mr Gately. In his opening speech on Tuesday, Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, said that the evidence in the case against Mr Glynn is of a "circumstantial" nature involving CCTV, photograph, mobile phone, tracking device, fingerprint and Garda observation evidence.
Mr McGinn said it is the State’s case that there was “an ongoing plan” to target Mr Gately because he was a “allegedly a member of a rival organisation” to those targeting him. Mr McGinn said that gardaíwill tell the court that they were aware of a plot around the time of April 2017 but that they did not have precise knowledge of the target until the arrival of Arakas in Dublin on April 3rd, 2017.
Counsel said that gardaíwere aware of Arakas' arrival in Dublin off a flight from Alicante in Spain and tracked his movements. The barrister said that Arakas walked around Dublin city centre before being collected by a van and taken to Blakestown Cottages, Clonsilla, Dublin 15.
Gardaí obtained a search warrant for the Blakestown premises and found Arakas and Fowler present, said counsel. When gardaí executed the warrant at Blakestown on April 4th, 2017, they found Arakas next to a note written in Estonian but with the words “James Gately, Dublin criminal” written in English. When translated into English, information had also been noted about Mr Gately’s appearance, address in Belfast, his car and his movements.
‘Plan to murder’
Mr McGinn said that a tracker device had already been found in a van driven by Fowler when he was stopped by gardaí on February 28th, 2017, and that evidence regarding trackers would “feature largely” in the case. The barrister said that an open thread on a Blackberry device was discovered by gardaí when searching the Blakestown premises and that gardaí then took photos of a “plan to murder James Gately” because Blackberry threads can be deleted remotely.
Mr McGinn added that it will be said in evidence that the thread was later deleted. Counsel said that the court will hear that one of the participants in the thread was another man who was saved on the Blackberry as "Knife". Mr McGinn said that it is the State's case that gardaí contacted the PSNI about the plot and that a tracker device was found on Mr Gately's Toyota Avensis.
This device, he said, was similar to the one found in February 2017 in the van driven by Fowler. Mr McGinn said that the discovery of this tracker and others attached to cars belonging to Mr Gately’s sister and partner meant that gardaí were able to “knit together” previous incidents in the case, as the GPS in the trackers revealed their locations and when they were activated.
Mr McGinn said that CCTV evidence will show that two men in a white Volkswagen Caddy, alleged to be Keating and the other man, drove to Dublin airport and transferred into a Peugeot Partner van later spotted at Mr Gately's Belfast home on March 28th, 2017.
Counsel said that the evidence will show that Keating, Duffy and another male drove to Belfast two days later, March 30th, 2017, and that it is alleged that this third male is Mr Glynn. Mr McGinn said that CCTV will show Mr Glynn place the device on Mr Gately’s car, which was parked in his apartment complex, before all three occupants drove back to Dublin.
Counsel said that evidence will show that five Blackberry devices were seized from Mr Glynn's then residence in Ashtown. Mr McGinn said that an inference could be drawn that one of the users of the Blackberry devices was involved in "ongoing" criminal activity. Giving evidence, Det Sgt David Carolan told Mr McGinn that he executed a warrant for the search of the Blakestown Cottage property on April 4th, 2017.
The detective said that at the time he had reasonable grounds to suspect Arakas was going to commit a serious offence and suspected there could be information to be gleaned from Blakestown. Det Sgt Carolan said he and other gardaí went to the property where he met Arakas and Fowler.
There, the detective saw the note with Mr Gately’s name on it and seized two two-way radios and a bullet-proof vest. The witness said that Det Gda Sean O’Neill took photos of the open thread on the Blackberry, which had information on Mr Gately, before it could be remotely deleted.
Det Gda Carolan said he was aware that Mr Gately was involved "in a feud with the Kinahan organised crime group" and that Mr Gately "had a wider association with the Hutch organised crime group". He said that Mr Gately was "being targeted by the Kinahan organised crime group at the time".
Det Gda O’Neill told Mr McGinn that he took photos of 12 different screens of the Blackberry before it could be deleted and that he scrolled through the entire conversation thread on the device as he went. Det Gda O’Neill said that one user on the device said: “The idea is to track him back to the apartment. When he is ten minutes away, we get in position.”
The witness said Arakas typed: “A silencer is good if the dog [the gun] is really accurate” and referenced “one shot to the head”.
The detective said that "Knife" posted a photo of Mr Gately on the chat and gave details of where he lived in Belfast. The trial continues before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, Ms Justice Sarah Berkeley and Mr Justice Cormac Dunne and is expected to last three weeks.