KINAHAN CARTEL: Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh won't be sentenced for more than year after guilty plea
THREE key members of the Kinahan Cartel, including its UK leader, will not be sentenced for more than a year after they pleaded guilty to major drugs importation charges, with two of them still out on bail enjoying time overseas, Essex News and Investigations can reveal.
Irish nationals Thomas "Bomber" Kavanagh, 53, (pictured above) Gary Vickery, 38 and Daniel Canning, 42, pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court in July to conspiring to import class A and B drugs, and money laundering.
Canning also admitted possessing a firearm and ammunition.
They are said by the Irish Criminal Assets Bureau to be part of the international Kinahan drugs Cartel, which began in Ireland, but is now run from Dubai.
The case has been dogged by delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, a growing court backlog and travel restrictions as Canning is in Ireland and Vickery in Spain.
The prosecution was the result of a four-year joint investigation by the Irish Garda and the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) into a multimillion pound, Kinahan-backed drug-trafficking operation.
BUSTED: Garda and NCA officers raid Bomber's £800,000 mansion in 2019 (NCA)
However, the court heard the three will not be sentenced until August - more than a year after they admitted the offences - and Canning and Vickery have been allowed to be out on bail the whole time, despite the serious nature of their convictions and facing up to life in prison.
Canning has been able to continue working in Dublin, where he is from, and Vickery has been bailed to an address in Spain. Kavanagh is already in Dovegate Prison after being jailed in 2019 to a three-year sentence for possessing a stun gun disguised as a torch, which was discovered during a raid on his mansion as part of the same operation. The Irish Criminal Assets Bureau describes Kavanagh as the most senior member of the Kinahan organised crime group in the UK. Before being jailed he was running activities from the secure mansion, complete with bullet-proof glass, in Tamworth, Staffordshire. His brother in law is Liam Byrne, who runs the Kinahan’s Irish operations and was the brother of David Byrne who was shot dead in the 2016 Dublin Regency Hotel shooting as part of the feud with the Hutch gang. Before they can be sentenced there is still to be a newton hearing as although they pleaded guilty, there is a dispute over the basis of the plea.
Daniel Canning (left) and Vickery (NCA)
Newton hearings happen where the defence and prosecution offer such conflicting evidence that a judge sitting alone tries to work out which party is telling the truth. The court heard this will not happen until August at the earliest. An underworld source told Essex News and Investigations that he is convinced the pair are out on bail as they are "doing a deal" with prosecutors to try to lessen their sentences. James Scobie, defending Kavanagh, told Judge Martyn Levett that it may be possible to avoid the need for a Newton hearing. He said: "We are endeavouring to come to an agreement on this case and aim to come to an agreement with all parties. "What we hoping for... We are talking with each other and the crown to resolve this case. "I think there is every prospect we can avoid a Newton hearing. "There are discussions every day in writing over the issue of disclosure." The case was adjourned until later this month. After the guilty pleas NCA deputy director of investigations Matt Horne said: "Today’s guilty pleas are the culmination of a four-year investigation into Thomas Kavanagh and his co-conspirators, who were part of a significant international crime network, capable of organising multimillion pound shipments of drugs. “We have worked throughout with our colleagues at An Garda Síochána, and I hope these convictions send out a strong message to others who may think themselves to be untouchable. “We will be relentless in our pursuit of those involved in organised criminality.” Asked about the NCA's view of the delays to the sentencing, a spokesman said: “Matters relating to the scheduling of court proceedings and bail terms are not the remit of the NCA.” The CPS would not comment. A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said: "Sentencing in the Kavanagh case has been delayed in part due to the complexity of the case, and current travel restrictions." Judge's toilet and crisps woe
SINCE the pandemic many court hearings have operated remotely online, with lawyers speaking to judges from their own homes.
This was the case during the last Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh hearing.
Judge Martyn Levett expressed his frustration at the situation, asking people to stay on mute when not speaking.
He said: "Please put yourselves on mute as all I can hear is someone eating crisps and someone flushing toilet and it is disturbing at this end as we are trying to record these proceedings."