‘Less murder now Bomber Kavanagh is in jail’- says the nation’s top officer fighting organised crime
December 18 2022 02:30 AM
The fall in Ireland’s gangland murder rate has been directly linked to the conviction and jailing of Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh this year, the nation’s top officer fighting organised crime has said.
Detective Chief Superintendent Seamus Boland said the conviction of Kavanagh on drugs and money-laundering charges was the most
significant in his 33-year policing career.
Kavanagh (54), who was arrested in England in January 2019 on lesser charges, was sentenced to 21 years last March at Ipswich Crown Court.
At the time, he was described by Britain’s National Crime Agency as “at the head” of the Kinahan cartel and responsible for smuggling cocaine and cannabis inside items of machinery into the UK and Ireland.
In a documentary about Kavanagh to be screened this week, Mr Boland says: “In my career, Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh is the most significant conviction I’ve seen. When I was talking to National Crime Agency colleagues in the early days of the investigation, I was highlighting to them it was our assessment that Thomas Kavanagh and his group being brought to justice could impact the threat level in this jurisdiction and the number of murders in this jurisdiction.
“I don’t think it is by pure chance that for the last number of years the level of organised crime murders has dropped dramatically.”
Kavanagh, a brother-in-law of David Byrne, who was shot dead in the Regency Hotel, Dublin, in February 2016, has been a senior figure in organised crime for decades.
“Thomas Kavanagh was well-known to the gardaí at that point in time and I think it was obvious to anybody that watched the aftermath of the Regency Hotel attack and the funeral of David Byrne that he held a very prominent position where a message was clearly being given that he was in charge of the organisation,” Mr Boland says.
“Our investigations identified Thomas Kavanagh having some very significant meetings in the aftermath. Some of the people he was meeting were some of the people who were subsequently convicted of serious criminal activity surrounding targeting people for murder in the course of the Kinahan-Hutch feud.
“So Thomas Kavanagh absolutely was a person of critical importance in the course of that feud.”
In 2017, a consignment of cannabis and other drugs was found in a modified item of machinery in Dover. Further searches uncovered tracker devices, codes and encrypted phones that all pointed to a man called ‘The Gaffer’ at the top of a €36m drug empire.
Kavanagh was first arrested at Birmingham airport in January 2019 as he returned from a family holiday in Mexico and was later jailed for the possession of a stun gun. In custody, he was charged with the conspiracy and laundering offences.
Ireland’s gangland murder rate has dropped significantly, although there have been six gun deaths this year as local feuds are identified in areas of Dublin.
Last year, there were two gangland murders compared with 11 in 2019 and 15 in 2016.
‘The Fall of Bomber Kavanagh’ is on Virgin Media One on Wednesday