The Kinahan crime organisation carries out "execution-type murders" and smuggles drugs and firearms "on an international scale", the Special Criminal Court has found.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt yesterday said the non-jury court accepted garda evidence on the organisation and structure of the cartel as he jailed a "foot soldier" for seven-and-a-half years for helping to plan the murder of Patrick "Patsy" Hutch.
Sentencing Mark Capper, Mr Justice Hunt said the defendant "knew well" what was contemplated by his associates and he had a "shrewd appreciation" of the detail and methodology to be used in the proposed murder.
He was also capable of expressing doubt as to the details of the proposed plan.
The judge said the 31-year-old's conduct was intentional as opposed to reckless and he was initially prepared to serve on the front line and offered ideas towards the plan to murder Mr Hutch. There is no doubt he was aware of the nature and structure of the Kinahan organisation, he added.
Capper was most likely "dropped" from the plot as he was not sufficiently on board due to his reservations and state of mind, pointed out the judge.
Referring to the Kinahan criminal organisation, Mr Justice Hunt said the court accepted garda evidence that it is an organised crime gang involved in "execution-type murders" in the context of feuds "to protect its core activities", which include "organised drugs and firearms" offences on "an international scale".
The Special Criminal Court further accepted that the crime gang operated "an organised hierarchical structure" with "cells and sub-cells" to "segregate activities and limit knowledge" among gang members. The gang also operated on directions from superiors within this hierarchy.
Capper, who admitted helping the organised crime group with a plan to kill Patrick Hutch - the older brother of the leader of the rival Hutch organised crime group - pulled out three days before the attempted murder.
Capper of Cappagh Green, in Finglas, Dublin 11, pleaded guilty in March to having knowledge of the existence of a criminal organisation and participating in activities intended to facilitate the commission of a serious offence by that criminal organisation, or any of its members, to wit the murder of Patrick Hutch within the State between February 1 and March 10, 2018, both dates inclusive.
During the sentence hearing for Capper earlier this month, the non-jury court heard evidence on how the Kinahan gang operates a hierarchical structure, with compartmentalised "sub-cells" acting independently from one another.
The three-judge court also heard that Capper was hired by the Kinahan organised crime group and the arrival of Storm Emma had scuppered the gang's first bid to murder Mr Hutch.
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Hunt, presiding at the three-judge court, said that Detective Inspector David Gallagher gave evidence on May 11, where he specifically identified the criminal organisation as the Kinahan organised crime group.
Mr Justice Hunt said an intelligence operation was led from the outset and surveillance had identified ten persons directly involved in this enterprise.
The target of the operation was not known to gardai at the early stage but it became apparent towards the end of February 2018 that the organisation was trying to murder Mr Hutch and it was based on three central elements.
The first was to set up a "staging post" at Belmont apartments which was midway between two locations associated with target Patrick Hutch.
The second was a "ruse" to commit criminal damage "to lure" Mr Hutch from his home to the murder scene while a "looker" would give the "hit team" the signal when he was on his way.
The third element was to have a "getaway location" at Stoney Road in East Wall in Dublin 3 where the gunmen would go through a pedestrian tunnel and a car would be waiting on the other side to take them away.
Capper did not appear as a participant within the sub-cell until February 24, 2018 and there were recordings of specific conversations between Capper and Michael Burns - who has also pleaded guilty to the same offence - concerning Mr Hutch's movements.
These recordings included references to drawing Mr Hutch out of his home, gardai presence in certain areas, the underground car park at Belmont Hall Apartments on Gardiner Street and the burning of a getaway vehicle, said the judge.
Capper had expressed concern about getting arrested, was reluctant about carrying out the plan, had concerns regarding the weather and referred to needing more weapons, pointed out Mr Justice Hunt.
Audio surveillance of a vehicle recorded Capper asking Michael Burns for a loan of €50, which he was refused. Mr Justice Hunt said this shed light on Capper's financial motivation for his involvement in the incident as he was obviously struggling with money at this time.
He said the defendant "knew well" what was contemplated by his associates and he had a "shrewd appreciation" of the detail and methodology to be used in the proposed murder.
Capper was also capable of expressing doubt as to the details of the proposed plan and participants had considerable reservations and scepticism about his participation in the incident, he said.
Mr Justice Hunt said the prosecution had established a link between Capper's conduct and the serious offence contemplated by the criminal organisation.
The evidence established that he had assisted in the preparation for the very grave crime of murder and his conduct was intentional as opposed to reckless, he said, adding he was initially prepared to serve on the frontline and had offered ideas on the plan.
It was not known if Capper actively withdrew or if his retainer was withdrawn, but given the reservations expressed, it was most likely the defendant was dropped from the plot as he was not sufficiently on board due to his state of mind, said the judge.
He also noted that the fact serious harm or death did not ensue was due to the fine work of gardai and no thanks to Capper or his cohorts.
Capper has 65 previous convictions and suffered with a drug addiction problem.
Mr Justice Hunt, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Dermot Dempsey, sentenced Capper to eight years and three months imprisonment with the final nine months suspended, backdated to December 5 2019, when he went into custody.
In July 2019, a three-man "hit for hire team" received sentences totalling 36.5 years at the Special Criminal Court for planning to kill Patrick Hutch before they were intercepted by gardai just 250 metres from their target's home in Dublin's north inner city.
Gary Thompson (35) and his brother Glen Thompson (25) were each jailed for 12 years and six months.
A third man, Afghan war veteran Robert Browne (36) was sentenced to 11 years and six months in jail.