Gangland criminal Alan Wilson, who conspired with his fellow gunmen to assassinate Dublin man Gary Hanley, is "very fortunate" that the maximum sentence for the offence is 10 years, a judge has noted.
Wilson, who was secretly recorded by gardaí in discussions about the murder plot, was today jailed by the Special Criminal Court for six years.
The father-of-four instructed his co-accused Joseph Kelly in an audio recording to “go and do what you have to do” to kill Mr Hanley.
Heroin addict Kelly, who was recorded saying "if this fella survives we get no pay" and "hit him in the chest or something first" was sentenced to 12 years in prison at the same hearing today.
Kelly was jailed for six years for conspiring to murder Mr Hanley and 12 years for possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. His sentences are to run concurrently and were backdated to when he first went into custody.
Alan Wilson (40) of New Street Gardens, Dublin 8 and Joseph Kelly (39) of Kilworth Road, Drimnagh, Dublin 12 previously admitted to conspiring with Luke Wilson and other persons to murder Gary Hanley at a location within the State between September 15 and November 6, 2017, both dates inclusive.
This offence is contrary to Section 71 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 and the maximum sentence that can be imposed upon conviction for conspiracy is ten years in prison.
Kelly also pleaded guilty to possessing a 9mm Beretta semi-automatic pistol with intent to endanger life at Philipsburgh Avenue, Marino, Dublin 3 on November 6, 2017.
At a sentence hearing earlier this month, James Dwyer SC for Wilson informed the three-judge court that there were "logistical difficulties" in having the two men together in court so it was decided to deal with each man’s case separately.
Passing sentence firstly on Alan Wilson today, Mr Justice Hunt said audio recordings which included Wilson revealed “a wide variety of aspects” concerning the proposed attack.
The judge said Wilson had issued instructions to his co-accused, Kelly and Luke Wilson in regards to the destruction of the cars as well as the method by which Mr Hanley was to be murdered.
Having regard to the gravity of the offence, the judge said the court had to consider a number of relevant factors, which included the nature and extent of the conspiracy in question.
“This was a widely-drawn conspiracy of a very serious nature,” he said adding that Wilson’s contribution, which was "knowledgeable and intentional” had taken place over a long period of time. The offence contemplated was the most serious in the criminal calendar and Wilson had played a “serious role on a constant basis” in preparation for this crime, he added.
Referring to Wilson, the judge noted that the conspiracy involved an “intricate” plan to kill in the context of an “ongoing feud” and the defendant had been prepared to carry out the role for financial gain.
This offence fell short of "the maximum point of harm" intended by the conspirators due to intervention by gardaí rather than “any restraint or lack of commitment” on the part of the accused, said the judge.
The headline sentence was eight years but there was a limited number of mitigating factors with the most significant being his early guilty plea, he continued.
The court heard that other mitigating factors were Wilson’s “effective absence” of previous convictions and expression of remorse. The judge said he would reduce the headline sentence by two years because of these factors.
Wilson had penned a letter of apology which was handed into the court at his sentence hearing. It read: “I apologise unreservedly for my actions and to all those that my actions have affected. I regret aiding the gang and should have known better.
I was blinded at time regarding the ramifications that a gang would have and truly regret the course of my actions.
Wilson was sentenced to six years imprisonment, backdated to November 6, 2017 when he went into custody.
In summary, Mr Justice Hunt said he would like to compliment the gardaí on their excellent work which had prevented “another execution-type murder” and noted that Wilson was “very fortunate” that statute had placed a limitation on this offence.
Sentencing Kelly, Mr Justice Hunt said the defendant had 64 previous convictions and gardaí had accepted he had a very serious heroin addiction.
Lengthy and ongoing preparations had been made by Kelly over a number of months, indicated the judge, adding that he could not be characterised as the organiser of this “deadly enterprise”.
“He was clearly prepared to assist with the necessary preparation and assist up to the point of the actual killing but not to be the actual gunman deployed to carry out the shooting,” he continued.
Referring to the firearm charge, the judge said this carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a minimum sentence of ten years.
There had been “no public use” or brandishing of the weapon and this was thanks to the interception of gardaí and not Kelly’s restraint, said the judge. However, the firearm was loaded and there was enormous potential for death and destruction and the defendant was prepared to be “intimately involved”, he continued.
The judge said Kelly and his companions had been caught “red-handed” due to excellent police work. He emphasised that this event had arose out of criminality of a serious nature and Kelly had not been operating under a threat.
“The recording of the conversation showed that financial gain was his motivation, which was probably his drug addiction rather than pure greed,” remarked Mr Justice Hunt.
Mr Justice Hunt sentenced Kelly to thirteen years and six months imprisonment with 18 months suspended for a period of three years for the firearm charge.
The judge said Kelly had played a “precise and crucial” role in this conspiracy and he received a six-year concurrent sentence on the conspiracy charge.
Luke Wilson (23), a nephew of Alan Wilson, from Cremona Road in Ballyfermot, Dublin 10 was sentenced to 11 years in jail last year after pleading guilty to unlawful possession of a Beretta handgun with intent to endanger life at Philipsburgh Avenue, Fairview, Dublin 3 on November 6, 2017.
Luke Wilson also received a six-year concurrent sentence after he admitted to conspiring to murder Mr Hanley at a location within the State on the same occasion.
At a sentence hearing on July 15, Detective Superintendent David Gallagher from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, summarised the facts of the case.
Det Supt Gallagher told prosecuting counsel, Sean Gillane SC, that a 2017 operation was undertaken by the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau to concentrate on a number of vehicles including a Seat, a white Nissan Primastar van and a white Volkswagen Caddy as well as a number of individuals including Alan Wilson, his nephew Luke Wilson, Joseph Kelly and others.
The vehicles were put under surveillance between September 11 and November 6 and CCTV footage was also harvested as part of the investigation.
The specific target was identified as Gary Hanley and as a result gardaí began to monitor him as well as a car registered to his partner.
Two tracking devices were found underneath his partner's vehicle on September 17 and they were removed. At this point, it became clear to gardaí that Hanley was the “target of an attack” at his north Dublin home.
A number of early morning and evening reconnaissance trips from the south side of the city to the north side had been planned by individuals in order to organise the “best routes” for the attack and escape thereafter, said Det Supt Gallagher, adding that “burn spots” were also identified.
Alan Wilson and Kelly carried out an early morning reconnaissance trip in the Caddy van on September 11 and audio recording revealed conversations about burning cars with petrol and “switching cars”.
Mr Gillane read transcripts from this audio recording to the court in which Kelly asks is that one of the “burn spots” and Alan Wilson replies: “Yes, Ill show you. We are going to drive the car in there and burn it there.”
There were further audio recordings from September 12 where conversations between the two men centred on the route, the burning of vehicles and a discussion in relation to leaving DNA in the van.
Wilson can be heard saying in the Primastar van on September 29 that they were going their “usual route” and he knew Gary Hanley “very well”.
Following this, Kelly says: “Be on the ball, expect a call today, have your yoke [the handgun] with you.” Wilson replies “yes” and Kelly continues saying he “always has it” with him.
Referring to Hanley, Wilson can be heard saying: “He goes to the gym at 5pm if we get him at 5pm, the inbound traffic is free-flowing.”
Wilson can also be heard saying that Hanley has a bullet proof window as well as a security door and continues with, "I don’t like hanging around for anyone as that is how you get caught."
“Go you and do what you have to do, kill him and jump into another car,” says Wilson. “The minute we see him [Hanley] jump out of the van and do it,” he continued.
There was also a conversation in relation to “tying a rag to a pole” at a junction so Kelly would know which turn to take on the day of the attack.
On November 3, Alan Wilson and Kelly were observed in the van and Kelly says that “going at the door with a crowbar is fucking mad”. Wilson replied: “The thing is you chase him down handy enough”.
Further surveillance of Alan Wilson, Luke Wilson and Kelly was conducted on November 6 in which Alan Wilson instructs the men to sit in the back with a hand gun and shoot Hanley in his garden.
An operational plan had been put in place by gardaí to intervene the attack and the Volkswagen Caddy was intercepted in Dublin 3 on the evening of November 6 at Phibsborough Avenue. However, Alan Wilson got out of the vehicle at 7.30pm in Dublin 2 that evening having previously issued instructions to Luke Wilson and Kelly, who were on their way to Glasnevin Cemetery to collect the “toy”.
When Kelly receives the handgun, he is heard saying: “Lovely, we can bleedin crack him one hundred times. If this fella survives we get no pay. Hit him in the chest or something first.”
Wilson was arrested by gardaí on the Crumlin road at 8.25pm that evening.