Grandfather is sixth man jailed for role in botched bid to murder James Gately

Stephen Fowler (62) sentenced to six years and nine months for ‘logistical’ involvement

A grandfather whose son was murdered in a drugs feud has been jailed for his involvement in a botched attempt by the Kinahan cartel to murder rival Hutch gang member James ‘Mago’ Gately.

Stephen Fowler is the sixth man to be jailed by the non-jury court in what the judge said was the "ongoing targeting" of Gately's life carried out in the context of a criminal gang feud.

Gately, who also survived a second attempt on his life in May 2017, had been warned by gardaí of a threat to his life from criminals who believed him to be involved in the Regency Hotel murder of Kinahan Cartel associate David Byrne in February 2016.

On Monday at the three-judge court, Fowler (62) was sentenced to six years and nine months for his "logistical" involvement in the murder plot. Presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt suspended the last 15 months of the sentence for three years.

Fowler pleaded guilty last month to the single charge that he, having knowledge 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 serious offence, namely the murder of James Gately, participated in or contributed to activities with the said offence".

The offence relates to dates between December 7, 2016, and April 4, 2017, at a location or locations within the State, when Gately was in Belfast.

The court has heard in previous related cases that there was "ongoing targeting" of Gately and that Estonian assassin Imre Arakas was brought to Ireland in April 2017 to carry out the murder of Gately before being apprehended by gardaí.

On Monday, Mr Justice Hunt said that Fowler collected Arakas, who was already under Garda surveillance, in a van branded ‘Blakestown Tyres’ at Barry’s Hotel in Dublin city centre and brought him to his home at Blakestown Cottages on April 3, 2016.

Mr Justice Hunt said that Fowler and Arakas were both arrested by gardaí­ on foot of a warrant on April 4, 2017, at Blakestown Cottages in Dublin 15.

The judge said that gardaí seized a Blackberry phone and matched the movements of Arakas and members of the gang to a murder plot to kill Gately. The plot involved the placing of tracker devices on cars belonging to Gately and others, including his sister, in March 2017.

Mr Justice Hunt said that the maximum jail sentence, pre-mitigation, was 15 years but placed Fowler’s involvement in the “upper mid-range”, which carried a nine-year sentence.

The judge said that Fowler’s role in the plot to kill Gately was “logistical”, that Fowler was operating under the “direction of others” and was involved in the plot as a “favour”.

He said Fowler’s involvement in the assassination plot came to an end because of “Garda intervention” and not through “withdrawal or reluctance” on his own part.

Fowler is now the sixth man to be jailed in connection with the failed attempt on Gately. In September, senior cartel member Peter Keating (40) of Rowlagh Green, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, was jailed for 11 years having pleaded guilty to directing the activities of a criminal organisation between December 7, 2016, and April 4, 2017, inclusive, within and without the State under Section 71 of the Criminal Justice Act.

In July, David Duffy (33) of Greenfort Lawns, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, also pleaded guilty to having knowledge of the existence of a criminal organisation and participating in or contributing to activities connected with the said offence, namely the murder of James Gately, with the intention of enhancing the ability of the said criminal organisation or any of its members to commit the serious offence, within the State between December 7, 2016 and April 6, 2017, both dates inclusive.

Duffy was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment with a further year suspended.

In another attempt on his life, Gately survived being shot five times as he sat in his car at the then Topaz petrol station on the Clonshaugh Road in north Dublin on May 10, 2017.

In February of this year, Caolan Smyth (30) of Cuileann Court, Donore, Co Meath, was sentenced to 20 years at the Special Criminal Court for the attempted murder of Gately and for possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. Smyth had denied both charges.

Gary McAreavey (53) of Gort Nua, Station Road, Castlebellingham, Co Louth, had pleaded not guilty to acting to impede an apprehension or prosecution by purchasing petrol and assisting in the burning out of the vehicle, a black Lexus, used in the attempted murder at Newrath, Dromiskin, Co Louth on the same day.

McAreavey received a four-year jail term with the final year suspended.

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 3 and 4, 2017.