Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Estonian hitman jailed for conspiring to murder man in Newry

A hitman from Estonia who travelled to Ireland in April last year to murder a man in Newry as part of a Dublin gangland feud has been jailed for six years. 

Ex-wrestler and father-of-two Imre Arakas is a former Estonian separatist who the Special Criminal Court heard had been “scarred and marked deeply” by imprisonment in Russia.

Described by gardaí as a “contracted hitman”, Arakas was arrested as part of an investigation into the Hutch-Kinahan gangland feud in Dublin which has claimed multiple lives.

An earlier court hearing heard how Arakas was paid a “five-figure sum” to fly into Ireland to kill Hutch associate, James Gately, in what was described as a well planned operation. Arakas (60) told those who were supervising the murder that “it could just be one shot to the head from distance”.

After arriving in Dublin on April 3 2017, Arakas walked around the city centre before buying a wig and a mirror. Later that day he was picked up by a white Mercedes van and driven to a premises in Blakestown, in the west of the city.

The same van had been stopped by gardai two months earlier and a tracking device was ­discovered on the driver, which had previously been fitted on a vehicle owned by a member of Gately’s ­family.

Members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit raided the Blakestown premises, arresting Arakas during the operation.

A piece of paper found in the premises had the name “James Gately, Dublin criminal” written on it, as well as a  Newry address he used and details of his car parking. Also recovered at the scene was an encrypted Blackberry mobile phone and a unique server to access its contents, with Arakas’s DNA uncovered on both the paper and the Blackberry phone.

Details of Arakas’s violent past spanning more than 40 years in Estonia were also revealed at last week’s sentencing, with the court hearing he has two children, both in their 20s, and a wife whose health was described as “poor”.

The married father-of-two, who was arrested before he had a chance to carry out his hit on Gately, had a stroke in Mountjoy jail last month while in custody. 

Sentencing Arakas  on Wednesday last, Mr Justice Tony Hunt sitting with Judge Sinéad Ní Chúlacháin and Judge Cormac Dunne, sentenced Arakas to six years imprisonment, backdated to 4 April 2017 when he went into custody.