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25 Sept 2022

Two men go on trial in connection with lunchtime attempted murder at petrol station

Court

Central Criminal Court

A 28-year-old Meath man is alleged to be the gunman who tried to murder a father-of-two at a Dublin filling station in 2017, a Special Court trial has heard.

A 52-year-old Louth man is also on trial, accused of helping to burn out the car used in the lunchtime shooting.

James Gately was injured but survived being shot five times while he sat in his car on May 10th, 2017 at the Topaz garage on Clonshaugh Road. The 31-year-old, who was from Dublin’s north inner city, was shot in the neck and upper chest.

Caolan Smyth, with an address at Cuileann Court, Donore, Co Meath, today pleaded not guilty to his attempted murder.

He also pleaded not guilty to possession of a firearm with intent to endanger on that occasion, and went on trial before the non-jury court.

Gary McAreavey of Gort Nua, Station Road, Castlebellingham, Co Louth was arraigned on a charge of assisting an offender later that day at Newrath, Domisk, Co Louth.

He pleaded not guilty to acting to impede an apprehension or prosecution, ‘by purchasing petrol and assisting in the burning out of the vehicle used in the attempted murder’.

Anne-Marie Lawlor SC opened the case to the three judges on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

She said that it was alleged that Mr Smyth was the person who shot Mr Gately, and that he then travelled to Newrath, where the car he was driving was burnt out using petrol bought by Mr McAreavey.

Counsel explained that the firearm was discharged into Mr Gately’s body at short range and that he later underwent surgery due to a bullet to his neck.

She explained that the court would not be hearing from Mr Gately, who was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time. However, it would see exceptionally clear CCTV footage of a black Lexus arriving at the scene.

Ms Lawlor said the court would also hear details of that vehicle being found burnt out at Newrath about an hour later, and of the spent casings found in its debris.

“My case will be a circumstantial case,” she said.

She explained that the extensive CCTV evidence would follow the movements of the Lexus, including at the same Topaz garage less than 24 hours before the shooting.

“Caolan Smyth was identified at the same location, the Topaz. He gets out of the Lexus, goes in and purchases something,” said Counsel. “You’ll also hear the movements of the black Lexus at locations of huge significance, in or around the home of the injured party.”

There would also be evidence from the M50 toll bridge, showing its movements, she added.

She said that the position of the DPP was that there was no other possible or reasonable inference but that the only person in the Lexus, who shot Mr Gately, was Mr Smyth.

The barrister said that there would also be evidence of Mr McAreavey purchasing €3 of petrol in a container that afternoon, and of the movements of his white van in convoy with the black Lexus.

“It comes down to identification,” she concluded. “The issue the court will be left with is whether the shooter was Mr Smyth.”

The trial continues before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Michael Walsh.

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