Small-time crim­i­nal hoped killing would help him live up to the fam­ily name

Plot was foiled by proac­tive, ag­gres­sive Garda sur­veil­lance tac­tics

The Irish Times - - Home News - Conor Gal­lagher Crime Cor­re­spon­dent

As 18-year-old Luke Wil­son lay bleed­ing from three bul­let wounds in an Inchicore park five years ago, he was cer­tain he was dy­ing.

It was a well-founded be­lief. He had been shot in the face, neck and arm and was los­ing blood rapidly. The only rea­son he was still breath­ing was be­cause the hand­gun, which was wielded by his best friend, Pa­trick McCann, had jammed af­ter three shots.

Wil­son, some­how still con­scious, man­aged to pick up the phone his would-be as­sas­sin had dropped and call 999. He then crawled to a foot­bridge, where he was found by a jog­ger.

He had been in the park to hand over a firearm to McCann that was to be used in an­other crime. But McCann’s in­ten­tion that day was to kill Wil­son – re­venge for a re­cent row be­tween the two men dur­ing which McCann had in­sulted Wil­son’s un­cles.

McCann would later get 20 years for the at­tempted mur­der. Wil­son would lose one eye en­tirely, suf­fer sight dam­age to the other and be left with a per­ma­nent shake in his right arm.

Hardly the per­fect can­di­date for a hit­man then. But when the Ki­na­han crime fac­tion put word out last year that they wanted Hutch as­so­ciate Gary Han­ley mur­dered, Wil­son stepped for­ward ea­gerly.

For one thing, he needed the money. A se­vere co­caine habit – in one sur­veil­lance record­ing he could be heard snort­ing a line while plan­ning Han­ley’s mur­der – along with gam­bling debts, were be­gin­ning to catch up with him and he owed money to some dan­ger­ous peo­ple.

Crim­i­nal player

He was also ea­ger to make a name for him­self as a crim­i­nal player. The Hutch-Ki­na­han feud was send­ing young Dublin men to the morgue or to prison but it was also cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Novice crim­i­nals such as Wil­son could move rapidly up the food chain as ri­vals dis­ap­peared and new ter­ri­to­ries were taken over.

De­spite be­ing the vic­tim of the at­tempted mur­der four years ear­lier, by 2017 Wil­son was still very much a small-time crim­i­nal, al­beit one linked to the nearly all-pow­er­ful Ki­na­han fac­tion.

He was ea­ger to live up to the Wil­son name. Luke’s un­cle, Eric “Lucky” Wil­son, is be­lieved by gar­daí to be one of the most pro­lific hit­men to emerge from the Ir­ish un­der­world. He is cur­rently serv­ing a life sen­tence in Spain for the 2010 mur­der of a British ex­pat there and is sus­pected in at least nine other mur­ders.

No­to­ri­ous

An­other un­cle, Keith Wil­son, is serv­ing life in Ire­land for the mur­der of Fin­glas gang­land killer Daniel Gaynor in 2010.

Car­ry­ing out the Han­ley job for the Ki­na­hans would en­sure that Luke Wil­son would be men­tioned in the same breath as his no­to­ri­ous rel­a­tives.

For the de­tec­tives from the Na­tional Drugs and Or­gan­ised Crime Bu­reau, Wil­son is one of the big­gest scalps to date in their largely suc­cess­ful bat­tle to stem the tide of mur­ders that en­gulfed the cap­i­tal in 2016 and 2017.

His ar­rest was a re­sult of the Garda strat­egy of ag­gres­sively us­ing sur­veil­lance tech­nol­ogy to de­tect planned hits be­fore mov­ing in right be­fore the at­tack takes place.

It’s a risky ap­proach – Wil­son was caught with a loaded hand­gun and si­lencer along with three cans of petrol – but it en­sures the sub­ject has lit­tle chance of wrig­gling off the hook in court by claim­ing they never would have gone through with the mur­der.

Yes­ter­day, Mr Jus­tice Tony Hunt in the Spe­cial Crim­i­nal Court praised the Garda op­er­a­tion be­fore telling Wil­son he would have given him 16 years in­stead of 12 if he had fought the case.

Wil­son thanked the judge and flashed a smile at the de­tec­tives be­fore be­ing led away to be­gin his sen­tence – fi­nally liv­ing up to the fam­ily name.

‘‘ De­spite be­ing the vic­tim of the at­tempted mur­der four years ear­lier, by 2017 Wil­son was still very much a small-time crim­i­nal, al­beit one linked to the nearly all-pow­er­ful Ki­na­han fac­tion

MAIN PHO­TO­GRAPH: COLLINS

Top: Det Supt Sea­mus Boland pic­tured on his way to speak to the me­dia out­side the Spe­cial Crim­i­nal Court yes­ter­day af­ter Luke Wil­son was con­victed. Above: the in­tended vic­tim Gary Han­ley

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