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Man who helped Kinahan cartel commit 'cold-blooded assassination' has jail term increased

Martin Aylmer (33) was implicated in the murder of Michael Barr in Dublin in 2016.

Image: Shutterstock/Sean Wandzilak

A MAN WHO helped the Kinahan crime group commit a “cold-blooded assassination” has been given an extra two years in jail after his original prison sentence was deemed too lenient. 

Martin Aylmer (33), of Casino Park, Marino, Dublin 3, bought six pre-paid mobile phones in the run up to the murder of Michael Barr (35) at the Sunset House pub in Dublin’s north inner city on 25 April 2016. 

The Special Criminal Court heard that one of the phones was found beside a burned-out car used as the getaway vehicle in Mr Barr’s murder. Aylmer was captured on CCTV footage buying the phone in Dublin’s Ilac Shopping Centre two days before the shooting. He told gardaí that he believed the phones would be used for drug trafficking.

He pleaded guilty to participating in, or contributing to, activity intending to facilitate the commission of a serious offence by a criminal organisation or any of its members in what was believed to have been the first prosecution of its kind. 

Sentencing him to three years and nine months imprisonment with the final year suspended, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said it could not be established that Aylmer knew he was contributing to a murder and there was no evidence on his part of moving firearms. 

Re-sentenced 

However, the presiding judge at the non-jury court said it must have been apparent to Aylmer that he was assisting in some serious criminal activity.

Aylmer, who had two previous convictions for minor public order matters, told gardaí that he believed the phones would be used for drug trafficking.

The Director of Public Prosecutions successfully sought a review of Aylmer’s sentence on grounds it was “unduly lenient”, and the Court of Appeal accordingly re-sentenced him to six years imprisonment with the final 15 months suspended today. 

Giving judgment, Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh said full responsibility for the murder should not be laid at Aylmer’s door, but the fact that he provided assistance to a gang that committed murder was relevant, and was an aggravating factor. 

She said Aylmer was in a “different situation” from the one which would have pertained if he had furnished precisely the same assistance, and the organisation used his assistance to supply drugs.

Ms Justice Ní Raifeartaigh said the following factors were relevant in assessing culpability for this offence: The nature of the assistance given; The nature of the criminal organisation and the consequences of the assistance, which may include the commission of a crime which the accused did not “specifically foresee”. 

She said the sentencing court erred in fixing the headline sentence at five years, before a reduction for Aylmer’s mitigating factors was applied.

The appropriate headline sentence was eight years, she said, having regard to the acts of Aylmer’s assistance and the fact those acts facilitated a murder. The court also considered the need for general deterrence. 

She said the court would apply the same 25% reduction for Aylmer’s guilty plea as the Special Criminal Court had done, and would suspend the final 15 months to take account of his personal circumstances and the “disappointment factor” of having a sentence increased.

Ms Justice Ní Raifeartaigh, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, re-sentenced Aylmer to six years imprisonment with the final 15 months suspended. 

‘Vital tools’ 

Aylmer was required to enter into a good behaviour bond for the suspended period, and he undertook to be so bound.

Counsel for the DPP, Dominic McGinn SC, told the Court of Appeal that Aylmer had assisted a criminal organisation that was in the business of carrying out “well-planned, cold-blooded assassinations”, and such activity was not “out of the ordinary” for them.

McGinn said Aylmer not only supplied “vital tools” for the criminal organisation – by purchasing six prepaid mobile phones – but he delivered them to a lock-up which he visited the day before the murder.

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There was no legitimate reason to buy so many prepaid phones, McGinn said. Although Aylmer claimed to have thought he was assisting in drug trafficking, counsel said the lock-up was subsequently found to contain firearms and a bottle of bleach. 

The fact that somebody was murdered, aggravated Aylmer’s contribution, he submitted, addinvg that there was an important correlation between contributing to the crime and the consequences of the crime.

Counsel for Aylmer, Caroline Biggs SC, said it was never suggested that her client knew a murder was to be committed. 

Biggs said her client could not be held criminally responsible for something he had no knowledge of or for something that was unconnected to him. To put the ultimate act at his door went beyond what criminal law allowed, she submitted. 

Eamonn Cumberton (32), of Mountjoy Street, Dublin 7, was found guilty of murdering Mr Barr (35) following a trial at the Special Criminal Court, and was jailed for life in January 2018. An appeal against his conviction for murder is currently being considered by the Court of Appeal. 

Mr Barr was standing at the counter of the bar, socialising, when two men wearing “Freddy Kruger” masks entered the pub and one of them shot him seven times in what the Special Criminal Court described as a “deliberate” and “planned” execution.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, said that although the court could not determine which role Cumberton played in the shooting, he was one of three culprits seen dumping items connected with the killing into the getaway car.

The car was later found partially burnt-out on Walsh Road in Drumcondra and gardaí were able to extinguish the flames. In the car officers found three rubber masks, a baseball cap and four firearms. These items were “intimately connected with the killing”, Mr Justice Hunt said, describing the masks as “eye-catching, lurid and distinctive”.

About the author:

Ruaidhrí Giblin

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