CAB argues that James ‘Mago’ Gately and partner shouldn’t be granted free legal aid
20th October 2022
THE CRIMINAL ASSETS Bureau (CAB) has argued before the High Court that gangland figure James ‘Mago’ Gately and his partner Charlene Lam should not be granted free legal aid to defend proceedings where the bureau claims their family home was bought with the proceeds of crime.
CAB opposes the application and claims that the couple, who it says have gone on foreign trips including cruises of the Carribean and Southeast Asia, and spend over €440,000 on their home, can afford to pay for their own legal representation.
In its proceedings against Gately, who it is alleged is heavily involved with an organised crime organisation, and Lam CAB seeks orders in respect of their home in Coolock, Dublin, as well as assets including a Volkswagen Golf GTI car, and a ladies Rolex watch seized by the bureau in 2019.
CAB claims that the assets were acquired with the proceeds of crime and are seeking various orders under Section 3 of the 1996 Proceeds of Crime Act.
The couple deny the claims and say that the assets were acquired with legitimate funds.
In a pretrial application before Mr Justice Alexander Owens today the couple have asked the High Court to make orders that they be each granted free legal aid to defend the proceedings.
The couple represented by David Perry Bl claim that they cannot afford to pay lawyers from their own funds to defend what counsel said are “complex” proceedings.
The court heard that Gately has not worked since 2015 due to a threat on his life, and that Lam is a self-employed beautician, who pays the mortgage on the family and general living expenses out of her own modest income.
It is claimed that her business suffered during Covid-19 and for a time she was in receipt of PUP.
The court heard that the house was purchased some years ago by Gately, who is aged in his early 30s, for €125,000 in 2013.
He claims he paid a deposit on the property out of his earnings, which he got from working in a hairdressing business and a shop.
The car seized was paid for out of their own funds.
The court also heard that Lam also had an Audi A6 car which it is claimed was part purchased with money from a family member, her own earnings, and winnings from the National Lottery.
Counsel said that his clients dispute claims made in respect of the amount of the significant amount of money allegedly spent by them on their property.
The works it is claimed were carried out for a much lower price by him and relatives he claims.
It was also claimed that the Rolex watch, allegedly worth €4,400, was acquired for approximately €1,500 from a friend of a family member of Lams.
Some of the trips taken by the couple had taken place some years ago and were not relevant to their applications for legal aid.
It was accepted that they had gone on recent trips to Barcelona and Lisbon, the money they expended on those was small compared to costs of paying lawyers to represent them in High Court proceedings.
CAB represented by David Dodd Bl said that the couple’s lifestyle was such that should have their legal costs paid for by the public.
Counsel submitted that to do so would undermine a scheme that was set up to ensure people at the lowest wrong of society could obtain proper legal advice.
Counsel also said that the couple had spent over €440,000 on renovating and upgrading their Coolock home.
Counsel said that on a cruise-ship holiday take a few years ago, which took them all across Singapore, Japan, South Korea and China, when they had a cabin with a balcony.
The year before they had previously taken a cruise in the Carribean, counsel added.
More recently they had taken trips to Lisbon and Barcelona, counsel said.
Counsel added that the couple seemed to be able to change cars on a regular basis.
Counsel said that Gately’s claims that he had not worked since 2015 were also questioned.
Counsel said that Gately had also spent time in Northern Ireland after 2015.
His claim to the court of not having worked during that time seemed to contradict certain admissions he made in an interview with CAB officers, counsel said.
Mr Justice Owens in reserving judgement on the application said he hoped to give his decision when CAB matters next come before the court.
Comments are closed as legal proceedings are ongoing.