A gunman for the Kinahan organised crime group, who tried to murder a rival Hutch gang member almost three years ago, faces a sentence of up to life in prison, the Special Criminal Court heard today.

Caolan Smyth, 29, from Cuileann Court, Donore in Co Meath, shot James Gately five times on 10 May 2017.

A second man, Gary McAreavey, 53, of Gort Nua, Station Road, Castlebellingham, Co Louth, whom the court accepted is not in any criminal gang, helped burn out the getaway car.

Smyth had Mr Gately under surveillance and followed him before shooting his target five times at the Topaz Petrol station near Dublin Airport on 10 May 2017.

Four of the bullets hit Mr Gately's bulletproof vest, but the fifth hit him in the jaw.

James Gately survived the shooting

The 32-year-old, father of two, was seriously injured but survived. He declined to give evidence in court or make a victim impact statement.

Smyth then drove north to Dromiskin in Co Louth where he met McAreavey, who bought a container of petrol and helped Smyth to burn out the getaway car, a black 2.5 litre Lexus with tinted windows and a diplomatic plate.

It was previously owned by the Pakistani embassy, before it was bought for €3,700 cash from another man and used in the attempted murder.

McAreavey was convicted of acting to impede a prosecution, while Smyth was found guilty of attempted murder and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

The shooting was the second attempt on Mr Gately's life in six months.

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Lithuanian hitman Imre Arakas, who was contacted by the Kinahan organised crime gang to shoot Mr Gately, was also convicted at the Special Criminal Court of conspiracy to murder him in April 2017.

Smyth has 36 previous convictions, including for burglary and possession of stolen goods.

His defence counsel said he was an All-Ireland boxing champion at 12, but his parents separated when he was a child, he left school after his Junior Certificate and worked in retail, construction, and security.

McAreavey, the court heard, has a significant disability, but was a painter and decorator who was a good neighbour.

He has a conviction for recklessly discharging a legally held firearm but it was dealt with through community service.

He has no record of serious crime, was not involved in the shooting and is not a member of any organised crime gang.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt noted the maximum sentence for attempted murder was life in prison and this attempt, he said, was at the top end of the scale.

He remanded both men in custody to be sentenced in three weeks' time.