A senior Kinahan cartel criminal who supervised those lower down the chain of command in a plot to assassinate Hutch gang associate Gary Hanley has been jailed for six years by the Special Criminal Court.
Sentencing Dean Howe at the non-jury court yesterday, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the defendant's activities had placed him in "a supervisory role" as part of this "elaborate and intricate planned scheme".
"He was a conduit of order from on high and forcefully encouraged the activities of those lower down the chain of command," said the judge, adding that his contribution was "essential, high level and intentional".
Mr Justice Hunt also said that the father-of-three was "one step" above those already dealt with in the chain of command and had passed on instructions from those higher up.
Howe (34), of Oakfield, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty last December to conspiring with others to murder Mr Hanley at a location within the State between September 15 and November 6, 2017.
He is the fourth man to be jailed for his role in the conspiracy to murder Mr Hanley.
Howe was on-the-run for nearly two years having fled the country after the foiled plot, but was eventually arrested by detectives last year.
The cartel associate, who along with Liam Brannigan planned the kill plot, was once arrested over the shooting of Martin 'The Viper' Foley.
He was also quizzed over shots being fired at a brother of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch at the height of the Hutch/Kinahan feud in 2016.
Luke Wilson (24), of Cremona Road in Ballyfermot, Dublin; Alan Wilson (39), of New Street Gardens, Dublin 8; and Joseph Kelly (35), of Kilworth Road, Drimnagh, Dublin 12, all previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder Mr Hanley.
Luke Wilson, who also pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a Beretta, was jailed for 11 years; Alan Wilson was given six years; and Joseph Kelly, who also admitted a weapons charge, was jailed for 12 years.
Kinahan mobster Brannigan has also been convicted for his role in the conspiracy to murder and is due to be sentenced on March 23.
Howe was involved in carrying out surveillance on Mr Hanley; supervising the use of several cars by him and his co-conspirators; collecting fuel; and giving instructions to the getaway driver, Joseph Kelly.
The three-judge court has heard that Howe had scolded Kelly during the operation, telling him he had "f**ked up" and asked: "What are you getting paid for?"
"We all have our jobs to do," he told Kelly but "we had to do your job". These recordings were secretly captured by gardai who bugged a car.
Howe was also seen by gardai with two other men in the Phoenix Park at the same time tracking devices "pinged" in the park, two days before the devices were found on Mr Hanley's car.
Mr Justice Hunt said the accused man had been a regular participant in reconnaissance journeys, as well as the planning for the proposed attack.
Conversations between Howe and Kelly strongly suggested that the defendant was in "a supervising role" and he had directed Kelly in the movement of vehicles, he said.
Referring to the defendant, the judge said he was "one step up in the chain of command" from Kelly and had issued him instructions.
Howe's activities were "recurrent and frequent", he was fully acquainted with the purposes of the organisation and his knowledge and intention were present at all times, said Mr Justice Hunt.
"He contributed actively to the conspiracy but this active contribution ceased five hours before the murder was to take place and we are in no doubt that he remained part of the conspiracy right to the end," the judge said.
There was no doubt that Howe had received and passed on instructions from those further up the chain of command, said the judge, adding that he was satisfied that Howe was not at the top of the pyramid but had been intimately and frequently involved in the plot.
The judge noted that his hands were tied by the existence of a statutory maximum of 10 years for conspiracy to murder, while other gang members had received longer sentences for firearms offences.
The judge said the headline sentence was eight years and six months in prison.
Although there was a strong factual case against the accused man, his early plea of guilty was of benefit to the court, he said.
In mitigation, he noted the "low-level" nature of Howe's previous convictions.
As a result, the judge said that he would reduce the headline sentence from eight years and six months to six years and six months, with the last six months suspended because of Howe's engagement in prison.
Mr Justice Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Dermot Dempsey, sentenced Howe to six years' imprisonment, backdated to May 30 last year.
The judge warned Howe would serve the extra time if he did not behave himself.