herald

Saturday 7 December 2019

'I need a few quid for Christmas' - court hears hit team recording

Liam Brannigan has denied a charge of conspiring to murder Gary Hanley
Liam Brannigan has denied a charge of conspiring to murder Gary Hanley

A would-be assassin loaded a Beretta handgun and gloated to a co-plotter "we're laughing with this" before armed gardai intercepted their bugged vehicle, a court has heard.

The men were also heard saying: "aw, no, aw no" as members of the Armed Support Unit ordered them to open the door of their Volkswagen caddy and to show their hands.

The man who put the clip in the Beretta was earlier heard saying: "I wanna get this f****** over with" because he said he needed "a few f****** quid" for Christmas.

Liam Brannigan (37) from Bride Street, Dublin 8, is charged with conspiring to murder Gary Hanley at a location in the State between September 15 and November 6, 2017. He has pleaded not guilty.

Bugged

The court previously heard that the VW caddy was one of six suspect vehicles bugged by gardai with devices in August, September and October, 2017.

It has previously been heard in court that Mr Brannigan was seen driving the same van on October 3, 2017.

It was also stated that surveillance gardai had given evidence about the movements of several men during those months, up to and including the arrest of Luke Wilson and Joseph Kelly on November 6, 2017, a "short distance" from Mr Hanley's home. At that time, gardai seized a Beretta.

Alan Wilson and Liam Brannigan were arrested at separate locations in Dublin that night, also over the alleged plot to kill Mr Hanley.

Luke Wilson, Joseph Kelly and Alan Wilson have previously pleaded guilty to the plot and been jailed.

Yesterday, the Special Criminal Court heard the continuation of an audio recording from the bugged caddy van on November 6 at 6.22pm - just hours before the four men were arrested.

Gary Hanley
Gary Hanley

In the early part of the recording, two men - male one and male two - were heard talking. Later on, a third man, male three, joined them in the caddy van.

At one point, male two leaves the vehicle, leaving male one and male three in the caddy.

The court has not heard the men's specific identities but the court has already heard a surveillance garda - Garda V - give evidence that on the night of November 6, they saw Alan Wilson driving the caddy towards Rialto, with Joseph Kelly as a passenger.

The same surveillance officer later saw the caddy stop outside a chemist in Rialto and Luke Wilson get into the back.

In the early part of the recording, male two is heard on the phone telling someone that they were "en route now", that there was a bit of traffic, and that they were heading to Rialto.

A phone rings and male two is heard answering and saying that they were "just picking this other fella up" before asking "if this doesn't happen where does this toy go to?"

Male two also tells the caller that he was driving and that they would go to Phibsboro before going their "separate ways".

After this call, the recording hears a door open and close and the men say hello to male three.

They talk about collecting a "yoke", making a "switch" and the torching of a car later.

The car then stops at one point and the bang of a car door is heard.

Male one and male three then discuss a cemetery in Glasnevin before male one tells male three that he's worried about "sitting around with a toy in the car".

After some exchanges in which male one appears to be lost, the car starts to travel again and immediately after setting off, male one and male three talk about an automatic Beretta. Male three tells male one: "It's a Beretta with a silencer" to which male one replies: "lovely". One of the men says: "We can crack him 100 times."

Male three says the target can be "leathered out of it in the chest".

One of the men says: "that's right, get him in the body first" while male three says "he's a big f*****, he was in the Sunday World recently."

The sound of a bag being zipped is then heard.

Male three then said: "I might as well get this f****** ready yeah, get the clip on it in anyways. It's some fucking motor that isn't it?" Moments later, male three says: "We're laughing with this, we're laughing."

Moments later, gardai are suddenly heard shouting at the men to open the door of their car. The men can be heard saying, "aw, no, aw no".

Phone

The court also heard a technical examination of an 085 phone attributed to Mr Brannigan - which the prosecution claim he threw into the grounds of a church immediately before his arrest on November 6, 2017 - had only three real contacts on the phone, two for Alan Wilson and one for Joseph Kelly.

Luke Wilson (24), Cremona Road in Ballyfermot, Dublin; Alan Wilson (39), New Street Gardens, Dublin 8; and Joseph Kelly (35), Kilworth Road, Drimnagh, Dublin 12, all previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder Mr Hanley.

The trial continues.

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