Kinahan cartel associate Thomas Kavanagh to serve 13 months of three-year sentence

Generous remission and use of tagging means reduction in Kavanagh jail time

Kinahan cartel associate Thomas Kavanagh is likely to be freed from prison in just over one year despite being jailed for three years this week when he appeared in a court in the UK.

Kavanagh (51), a married father, has lived in Britain for about 15 years but has been named in affidavits to the High Court in Dublin by the Criminal Assets Bureau as a member of the wider Kinahan cartel.

Specifically, he is close to the leader of the Irish unit of the cartel, Liam Byrne (38). The two men are brothers in law as Kavanagh married Byrne's sister Joanne Byrne in Ireland in 1998 before relocating to England years later.

Kavanagh appeared before Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court on Monday when he was sentenced to three years for having an illegal 10,000-volt stun gun disguised as a torch among an arsenal of weaponry in his "highly fortified" mansion home.


He had been arrested in the international arrivals hall at Birmingham Airport after getting off a plane following a family holiday to Mexico in January.

He was detained by the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) officers, backed by colleagues from An Garda Síochána investigating the supply of drugs and firearms.

A stun gun was then found during a search of his €770,000 home in Tamworth, Staffordshire, on January 12th, on a shelf above some kitchen wall units.

While his jailing, for possession of the stun gun, for three years his time in jail will be much shorter.

All prisoners sentenced in the UK for two years or more, save for those convicted of some violent offences including sex crimes, serve half their sentence in jail and the remainder on licence in the community.

That effectively means they are released and return home but under some conditions, usually associated with not offending again.

Added to the 50 per cent remission, prisoners deemed suitable can also be extended a further 135 days - 4½ months - reduction in their time in prison under a “home detention curfew”.

This means a prisoner like Kavanagh, who is not serving a sentence for violent crime and has had no previous convictions for about 18 years, would be freed after 13½ months of a his three-year jail term.

The first 4½ months of freedom would involve him wearing an electronic tag and he would be subject to curfew conditions. He would then be subject to some conditions, but not tagging or a curfew, for the remaining 18 months it took for his three-year sentence to expire. That would mean he would be released from prison in mid October, 2020.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times