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Wednesday 18 September 2019

'Bomber' faces prison after being found guilty on stun gun charge

Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh at David Byrne's funeral
Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh at David Byrne's funeral
The 10,000-volt stun gun disguised as a torch which was found at Kavanagh's mansion
A police mugshot of the mobster

Specialist gardai and British police will continue their investigations into Kinahan cartel kingpin Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh after he was convicted of having a 10,000-volt stun gun disguised as a torch.

The stun gun was found among an arsenal of weaponry inside the 51-year-old's "fortified" €858,000 mansion in Tamworth, Staffordshire, on a shelf above some kitchen wall units.

Kavanagh, who has been a target for gardai for decades, could be jailed for up to five years when he is sentenced on September 2.

The Herald can reveal that his closest associates are suspected of "putting up the money" and "directing operations" during the cartel's bloody purge of Hutch mob associates in the capital's deadly feud in 2016 and 2017.

Murders

Among the murders linked to the bloodletting were the slaying of two completely innocent men who were shot dead in 2016 in cases of mistaken identity.

The victims were Martin O'Rourke (24), who was gunned down on Sheriff Street in the north inner city on April 14, that year and Trevor O'Neill (41), who was shot dead while on a family holiday in Mallorca on August 17.

Senior sources said two notorious Clondalkin-based gangsters aged in their 30s were Kavanagh's "main men" in Dublin while he led a luxury life in exile in England.

Investigations have established that both of these criminals were central in the botched plots to murder Hutch gang associate James 'Mago' Gately.

Detectives here have also established direct links between Kavanagh and Declan 'Mr Nobody' Brady (52) - the two criminals first met as children growing up in Drimnagh.

Brady is due to be sentenced next week for possession of 15 lethal firearms and 1,355 rounds of ammunition at a Dublin business park in January 2017.

Kavanagh was detained at Birmingham Airport in January by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the gardai's Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau which were carrying out a joint investigation into the supply of drugs and firearms.

After yesterday's verdict, NCA lead investigator Peter Bellis said: "These types of weapons are extremely dangerous and can cause serious injury or death.

"This is why they are prohibited in the UK.

"Our wider investigation into money laundering, drugs and firearms supply continues."

Originally from Drimnagh, Kavanagh has been a long-term associate of the cartel and is related to top Kinahan lieutenant Liam Byrne through marriage.

The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) has previously described Kavanagh as directing a wider organised crime network in Birmingham.

As well as operating in the English Midlands, gardai suspect he also directs operations of the cartel's Irish associates based in Liverpool.

In October 2017, the NCA dealt a major blow to Kavanagh's network when around €5.5m of drugs and more than £225,000 (€252,000) in cash were seized in raids across the Midlands and Dover.

However, such is the scale of Kavanagh's suspected criminal enterprises that this would not have prevented his organisation from operating as normal, according to sources.

Targeted

Kavanagh has rarely returned to Dublin since leaving almost 15 years ago after being targeted by the CAB.

But he was spotted at the funeral of his brother-in-law David Byrne, who was shot dead in the Regency Hotel murder in February 2016.

At the start of his three-day trial in the UK, Kavanagh admitted an alternative offence of having the stun gun, but denied that it was deliberately designed to have the appearance of a torch.

He told officers the stun gun had been bought by one of his sons during a school trip and that he had later confiscated it.

He was convicted by a majority verdict by a jury at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court. There was no reaction from Kavanagh or family members sitting nearby in the public gallery.

Kavanagh, described in court as a prestige car dealer, was arrested at the arrivals hall at Birmingham Airport after getting off a plane following a family holiday to Mexico.

Apart from the illegal stun gun, two other similar black stun guns were also found in a teenager's bedroom.

A court hearing earlier this year was told that the gated mansion in Mile Oak, which had a £130,000 (€145,000) Audi R8 Spyder parked on the driveway, was so well fortified that it took officers longer than usual to force entry.

Following a legal ruling before trial, jurors were not given details about Kavanagh's home which had "reinforced bulletproof glass" and was, according to Judge Paul Glenn, an "apparently well-fortified address".

Inside, officers found what Kavanagh's own defence barrister described as "an array of weapons", albeit legally held.

Machetes

The arsenal included "machetes and shillelaghs" which were "scattered about" and "at various vantage points", according to the Recorder of Stoke-on-Trent, who ruled out the evidence going before the jury because it would be "highly prejudicial" to Kavanagh's case.

It was during the 13-hour search that officers also discovered the working pink-coloured stun gun, with 'Police' written on its side.

After his conviction, the court heard that Kavanagh had a "lengthy criminal record" in the UK and Ireland for offences including possession of a firearm, making threats to kill, assault, breach of the peace and fraud.

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