James ‘Mago’ Gately made renovations to his home worth almost four times the original value of the property, High Court hears

A Dublin man who has survived several attempts on his life has made renovations to his home worth almost four times the property’s original value, the High Court has heard.

he Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is taking a proceeds of crime case against James ‘Mago’ Gately, who has been the target of at least two assassination plots in recent years by the Kinahan cartel. .

He told Gardaí he was “validing cars to pay for basic food” when he lived in Belfast while presenting evidence that he enjoyed cruising holidays with his family to Southeast Asia and the Caribbean.

The former barber also said he hasn’t worked in seven years due to a “credible threat” to his life.

At the center of Cab’s case is his family’s home in Coolock, a Volkswagen Golf TSI, and a women’s gold Rolex watch.

Gately’s attorney and partner, Charlene Lam, applied for their clients to receive free legal aid.

In an affidavit read by attorney Gately, he said he meets the criteria for legal aid as he currently has no source of income and is supported by his friends and family.

He said that he previously worked as a barber and had a shop in Dublin, but is currently unemployed and not claiming welfare.

Gately said he was making mortgage payments through October 2015, but “due to a serious and credible threat to my life” hasn’t worked out since.

Then, her partner took over making the payments through income from her beauty business.

The court heard that the Coolock property was purchased for €125,000 in 2013.

A savings deposit was paid and the rest was paid with a 40-year mortgage.

Gately said it is “essential” that he be given legal aid to fight the Cab case because of the complexity of the matter and because it relates to his family’s home.

Cab estimates that the cost of the reform works carried out in the house is around €440,840 VAT included, and also gives a lower estimate of around €425,000.

Gately’s attorney said he would argue the cost was “significantly lower” due to assistance in getting the work done and obtaining cheaper materials from his partner’s father’s business.

The court was told that the Rolex watch belongs to Ms Lam and is estimated by CAB to be valued at around €4,400.

However, in his affidavit, James Gately said that it was bought between 2011 or 2012 from a family friend for between 1,200 and 1,500 euros.

Opposing the request, David Dodd BL of the Office said legal aid was for people on the bottom rung of society when they really need it.

This system, he said, is “undermined” when people have a certain lifestyle but don’t stick their hands in their pockets and expect the public to pay for it.

He said both respondents had access to discretionary income for “mind-blowing” foreign travel.

The court heard that they took a Southeast Asia cruise in January 2019, booking a balcony suite and traveling between Singapore, Koh Samui, Laem Chabang, South Korea, Nagasaki and Shanghai.

Dodd said the only reason they didn’t go to the Caribbean like most people do on their first cruise is because they had already been there the year before.

Evidence was heard that James Gately had been living in Belfast for the last five years and told taxi officers that he “had enough to keep me going” and was “worth cars for food”.

The lawyer commented that this “at least shows that he has a sense of humor”.

Judge Alexander Owens asked if James Gately was still living in Belfast, noting that he had been living there at the time Imre Arakas made an attempt on his life in 2017.

The court also heard that last year the couple paid for trips to Barcelona and Lisbon and Dodd said they were not on the financial bottom.

Judge Owens said he would make a decision on the request at the next court hearing.

James Gately has survived a series of attempts on his life by the Kinahan cartel, including being shot multiple times outside a North Dublin petrol station in May 2017.

Caolan Smyth is serving a 20-year sentence for that attempted murder.

Weeks earlier, the Gardaí also foiled a plot to assassinate Gately while he was living in Belfast. Estonian hit man Arakas was arrested in Dublin with instructions on what the target looked like and where he lived.

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