Northern Ireland news

Estonian hitman said he'd murder Newry target with 'one shot to head'

Imre Arakas
Brendan Hughes

AN ESTONIAN hitman who flew to Ireland to murder a man in Newry told associates he would take out his target with "one shot to the head".

Ex-wrestler Imre Arakas (59) was seen under surveillance buying a wig in Dublin and used an encrypted Blackberry phone to receive information on his target James Gately.

Arakas – who admitted conspiring with others to murder the man in Northern Ireland in April last year – was arrested as part of a garda investigation into the Hutch-Kinahan gangland feud which has claimed multiple lives.

At a sentencing hearing yesterday, the Special Criminal Court in Dublin heard Arakas was put under surveillance after flying to Dublin from Alicante in Spain.

Arakas – described in court as a "contracted hitman" – walked around the city centre and bought a wig and a mirror.

He was picked up by a white Mercedes van and brought to a house in west Dublin where he spent the night.

Armed gardaí raided the house in Blakestown the following morning and found pieces of paper with Estonian writing, "James Gately" and a Newry address.

The court also heard a "quick thinking" garda photographed a thread of messages on a Blackberry before they were remotely deleted as gardaí read them.

"It could be just one shot to the head from distance," Arakas said in a text, "a silencer would be good and it would be very good if the 'dog' (gun) be accurate".

Arakas had planned to go to the location the next day, the court heard.

The court also heard logistical planning had been made for the murder, and a van was brought in from Birmingham and used by others to put a tracking device in Mr Gately's car.

Arakas will be sentenced on December 12.

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