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'Centre of the wheel' in Kinahan mob murder plot gets eight years in jail

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Liam Brannigan (right) and Dean Howe.

Liam Brannigan (right) and Dean Howe.

Liam Brannigan (right) and Dean Howe.

Liam Brannigan, who conspired with Kinahan cartel murder plotters to assassinate Dubliner Gary Hanley, has been jailed for eight years.

Sentencing Brannigan (37) at the non-jury Special Criminal Court yesterday, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said the organisation of the planned execution meant the defendant was culpable to a very high degree.

Father-of-two Brannigan had played a "central role" in the oversight and management of the plan to kill Mr Hanley, he added.

The judge said the conspir- acy was at all times carried out with "a staunch and unyielding determination" to carry out a "gangland-style execution type of murder".

He described the plot as elaborate and lengthy, and noted that Brannigan had been "intimately involved" in all aspects of its planning and organisation.

The judge highlighted that Brannigan took part in 10 phone calls with the "hit team" on the evening of the planned murder.

Brannigan, of Bride Street, Dublin 8, was convicted by the non-jury court in February of conspiring to murder Mr Hanley at a location within the State between September 15 and November 6, 2017.

He is the fifth man to be jailed for his role in conspiracy to murder Mr Hanley.

Luke Wilson (24), of Crem-ona Road, Ballyfermot; Alan Wilson (39), of New Street Gardens, Dublin 8; Joseph Kelly (35), of Kilworth Road, Drimnagh; and Dean Howe (34), of Oakfield, Dublin 8, all previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder Mr Hanley.

Luke Wilson, who also pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a Beretta handgun, was jailed for 11 years; Alan Wilson was given six years; Joseph Kelly, who also admitted a weapons charge, was jailed for 12 years; and Dean Howe got six years.

Last February 3, following a nine-week trial that ended last December 3, Brannigan was found guilty of being at the "centre of the wheel" of the Kinahan cartel plot to gun down Mr Hanley.

Bugged

Mr Justice Coffey said the evidence against Brannigan came from four areas, including covert audio recordings from several cars bugged by gardai.

Armed officers intercepted the bugged Volkswagen Caddy van 450 metres from Mr Hanley's home after 8pm on the night of November 6, 2017, when two men, Joseph Kelly and Luke Wilson, were found in possession of a loaded semi- automatic pistol.

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Plot target Gary Hanley

Plot target Gary Hanley

Plot target Gary Hanley

The evidence also included phone data extracted from the co-conspirators' phones and the "interconnectivity" of these phones; sightings of the men by gardai; and a montage of CCTV footage, said the judge.

Passing sentence yesterday, Mr Justice Coffey, presiding at the three-judge court, said Mr Hanley was to be shot dead in the home he shared with his partner and infant child on November 6, 2017.

The plan was lengthy and elaborate and significant resources had been used, he said, adding that it had been "in gestation" for a number of months but had ultimately been foiled by gardai.

The conspiracy was at all times carried out with "a staunch and unyielding determination" to carry out a gangland-style execution type of murder.

Mr Justice Coffey observed that Hanley was at risk of "imminent and certain death" had gardai not scuppered the plan.

He pointed out the planning and organisation meant Brannigan was culpable to a very high degree.

The automatic pistol found in the vehicle would have been used to kill Mr Hanley, and the court was in no doubt that he would have been shot dead but for the timely intervention of gardai.

While not at the top of the chain of command, Brannigan had a central role in the management and oversight of the plan to murder.

Speaking outside the Criminal Courts of Justice, Det Supt David Gallagher said: "Organised crime groups terrorising our communities will not be accepted, and An Garda Sioch- ana will continue to prioritise those that engage in violence and threats to life."