Hitman hired to murder 'Mago' caged for six years
An Estonian hitman who was contracted by the Kinahan cartel and boasted to his associates in coded text messages that he would take out his target with "one shot to the head", has been jailed by the Special Criminal Court for six years.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt said that Imre Arakas agreed to the "vital role" of pulling the trigger and he had been prepared to offer his "own detail" on how the murder was to be performed.
"He was ready, willing and able in this dedicated role," said the judge.
Ex-wrestler and father-of-two Imre Arakas is a former Estonian separatist who, the three-judge court heard, had been "scarred and marked deeply" by imprisonment in Russia.
The contract killer bought a wig in Dublin city and used an encrypted Blackberry phone to receive information about the movements and location of James 'Mago' Gately in the North.
He also requested a silencer for the attack.
Arakas (60), of Sopruse, Tallinn, Estonia, last month admitted conspiring with others not before the court to murder Gately, a key member of the Hutch gang, in the North between April 3 and 4 last year.
Passing sentence yesterday, Mr Justice Hunt said the conspiracy in this case was directed at the commission of the most serious offence of murder.
"This murder was planned in a very sophisticated manner and in the context of an ongoing feud," he said.
Last month the Herald revealed that gardai believe cartel boss Daniel Kinahan directly messaged Arakas in order to give the would-be hitman advice on how to carry out the killing.
Arakas was messaging two senior cartel associates the day he was busted by heavily armed officers as he plotted the murder of 'Mago' Gately.
Evidence recovered from Arakas's phone shows four numbers - saved as 'Bon4', 'Bon new', 'Knife' and 'Ow new' - were in contact with each other between April 3 and 4 last year to plan the Gately murder.
Detectives believe that both numbers saved as 'Bon' were being used by Daniel Kinahan and that he was directing the plot from Dubai.
Mr Justice Hunt said this offence was not carried out in the end because of the excellent work of gardai, who had prevented "another execution-type of murder", rather than any constraint by the defendant.
Sentencing the defendant, Mr Justice Hunt, sitting with Judge Sinead Ni Chulachain and Judge Cormac Dunne, sentenced Arakas to six years' imprisonment, backdated to April 4, 2017, when he went into custody.
The High Court endorsed a European Arrest Warrant from Lithuania in February this year in relation to serious charges, including murder, which Arakas will face there once his jail term is completed in Ireland.