Monday, 18 Jan 2021

Kinahan gang's Mr Nobody feels the full glare of public spotlight

After years of building up a career as a major criminal while operating in the shadows, Mr Nobody has finally come under the full glare of the public spotlight.

Declan Brady, aka Mr Nobody, managed to gain the trust of the top ranks of the Kinahan crime cartel to become its most important figure in this country while maintaining a front as a small-time player in the transport industry.

Brady (52) was known to his neighbours in Celbridge, Co Kildare, and the business community at Greenogue industrial estate in Rathcoole, Co Dublin, as a truck driver involved in importing and exporting.

His office at the front of his rented unit at Greenogue was no different to the dozens of similar units in the area, with shelves littered with files surrounding his employee, who dealt with public inquiries.

But there the similarity ended. A cursory glance at any of the folders would show that all of the pages were blank.

Brady has not filed any tax returns with the Revenue since 2012 when his records then showed earnings of around €20,000.

Despite that, he drove around in a 151 Jaguar car, which he parked outside his five-bedroom detached house, worth at least €500,000, in the St Wolstan’s Abbey area of Celbridge.

He also splashed out an estimated €70,000 for a family wedding in an upmarket hotel, where the lucky woman to catch the bride’s flowers bouquet or garter was rewarded with a new car.

It was a far cry from his relatively modest beginnings in Drimnagh, south Dublin, where he grew up and was acquainted with other Kinahan associates such as the late David Byrne, who was shot dead in the Regency hotel, an incident that brought the Kinahan-Hutch feud onto the streets of the capital, Byrne’s brother Liam, and Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh.

Brady rarely came to the attention of gardaí in his earlier days and had five criminal convictions, all for road traffic offences.

He was seen by the Kinahans as an ideal choice to front up and take charge of a transport company while being responsible for the gang’s arsenal in Ireland and then storing it safely at the gang’s main arms depot in Greenogue before the weapons were distributed to the gunmen.

His company rented out the Greenogue unit from its unsuspecting owners in January 2016 – a year before it was raided by armed gardaí.

Unknown to him, his movements and regular trips overseas to Britain and to Spain, to receive instructions from the cartel bosses, were being noted by officers from the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB), who had stepped up surveillance on all known Kinahan associates since the Regency attack.

A detailed examination of his seized company documentation and records showed that around €1m had passed through the accounts in the previous few years.

During the searches that were carried out alongside the Garda raid on the Greenogue unit, officers found €330,000 in cash, hidden in shoe boxes in a house, as well as €140,000, which was “frozen” in a number of bank accounts.

An operation specifically targeting Brady and his three associates, Sean Ruth, Jonathan Harding and James Walsh, went up a notch in late 2016. In January 2017, gardaí received intelligence suggesting that the Kinahans were planning a “hit” to coincide with the anniversary of the murder of David Byrne on February 5.

They decided to swoop on the unit on the morning of January 24. However, Brady did not remain long in the premises and had left again by the time heavily armed officers from the Emergency Response Unit stormed the unit. They found the three associates, who have all since been jailed for possession of arms and ammunition, inside the unit. Brady was arrested nearby.

Five of the 15 guns discovered had been loaded and ready for distribution to the gunmen for use in the feud attack, believed by gardaí to have been imminent.

The other 10 weapons were individually wrapped in plastic and kept in zip bags, along with ammunition. All of the weapons had their serial numbers erased and were in pristine condition.

Some of the handguns were traced back to South American countries, including Brazil, while the rest of the weaponry were from the Czech Republic and eastern Europe.

Many of the guns were smuggled into the country as “sweeteners” as part of drugs shipments, imported by the Kinahan cartel. Two forklifts were also seized.

Brady’s trial was due to begin last Monday but he pleaded guilty to the charges of possession of 15 firearms and around 1,350 rounds of assorted ammunition.

He now faces an investigation into his assets and tax accounts by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Officers are expected to look at his Celbridge house as well as property alleged to be linked to him in Portugal and Spain.

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