Thursday, November 10, 2022

Alison O'Riordan

The “Hutch Criminal Organisation” emanates from “intergenerational familial bonds and close family associations” in Dublin city centre and operates on a patriarchal system of loyalty based on monetary gains, a senior garda has told the Special Criminal Court.

Detective Superintendent David Gallagher from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau also revealed that the organisation is “very fluid” and its affiliates can work together, operate independently as well as with other criminal organisations.

The officer told the non-jury court that the Hutch Criminal Organisation is “less hierarchical than some” and has been “galvanised” by the Hutch Kinahan feud.

It is the first time that evidence has been given in an Irish court about the existence of the “Hutch Criminal Organisation”, its structure and makeup.

Defence objections

Prior to the evidence being admitted, lawyers for Gerard Hutch argued that although it could not be considered by the court as evidence against their client, if it were to go before the court it would be on the public record as “an opinion” for “all time” and would “damage” Mr Hutch.

Defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr Hutch, argued that criminal proceedings are not “simply a forum where stuff is put out there” and that “there are always rules against scandalous matters”.

Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch (59), last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, denies the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5th, 2016.

Mr Hutch’s two co-accused – Paul Murphy (61), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin and Jason Bonney (51), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13 have pleaded not guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of Mr Byrne by providing access to motor vehicles on February 5th, 2016.

In his opening speech, Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, said the three-judge court would hear evidence from a detective about the existence of the Kinahan Hutch feud, who would speak first hand of his knowledge of the Hutch criminal organisation and their involvement in violence for many years.

Det Supt Gallagher told Mr Gillane on Thursday that he has 28 years of service in the force in drugs and serious crime investigations. Since 2016 he has been in charge of investigating national and international crime groups operating in Ireland and abroad.

He served as a detective sergeant in Dublin’s north inner city and was a member of the north Dublin drug unit. The detective said he has acquired a significant breadth of experience, insight and knowledge from holding “front line roles” into organised crime and the associated crimes which accompany that.

Since April 2016, the witness said he has been part of a senior management team with An Garda Siochana tasked with investigating criminal organisations engaged in a feud which was predominantly based in and outside Dublin’s north-inner city as well as internationally. He said it is commonly known as the “Hutch Kinahan feud” and had resulted in a number of murders and arrests.

Asked about his first-hand knowledge of surveillance operations, Det Supt Gallagher said he has been involved in international crime investigations and multiple operations involving targeted prevention of murder and the disruption of activities.

‘Hutch Criminal Organisation’

Det Supt Gallagher said he has had first-hand knowledge of confidential information from multiple different sources with regards to organised crime in Ireland including downloads from seized mobile phones, conversations and commentary on seized encrypted devices as well as audio recordings made in investigations.

He said he could confirm that a multitude of investigations had resulted in a number of convictions where persons carrying firearms were intercepted on their way to carry out murders in the feud. He emphasised that 33 persons have been convicted for offences such as conspiracy to murder, directing the activities of a criminal organisation and related firearm charges.

Asked by Mr Gillane if he was in a position to form an opinion of the existence of such a particular organisation, Det Supt Gallagher said he had significant insight and understanding of a criminal organisation operating both inside and outside this jurisdiction namely the existence of the “Hutch Criminal Organisation”.

The detective said he had “in depth knowledge” of its structure and make up. He described the “Hutch Criminal Organisation” as emanating from “intergenerational familial bonds predominantly from Dublin city centre and close family associations”. He said the organisation was “less hierarchical than others” and that it operated on a patriarchal system of loyalty based on monetary gains.

He added: “It’s a very fluid organisation with participants and affiliates working together at times to commit crimes, at other times they operate independently and also operate with other criminal organisations to commit crimes. Its rules and procedures like those of other organised crime groups are not set in stone”, he added.

In summary, Det Supt Gallagher said that since the emergence of the Hutch Kinahan feud in 2015, there had been a “galvanisation” of positions within the Hutch organisation.

Earlier, Mr Gillane outlined that the evidence he proposed to call was not to be taken into account in respect of Mr Hutch. “It is relevant on count three and four for Mr Bonney and Mr Murphy, I don’t propose to lead or ask questions in respect of those accused or express any opinion in respect of those individuals,” he outlined.

Mr Gillane said he would lead evidence in relation to Det Supt Gallagher’s qualifications and experience, his first-hand knowledge in relation to criminal organisations, his opinion of the existence of a certain criminal organisation and an outline of that criminal organisation.

Defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr Hutch, reiterated to the three-judge court that this was not evidence against his client and that he was not concerned about the court being contaminated or prejudiced from hearing what the detective had to say.

Mr Grehan said his concern was a “broader one” and that his client enjoyed the presumption of innocence.

‘Court of public opinion’

Ms Justice Tara Burns told Mr Grehan that his issue was really in the “court of public opinion” and that this was not something that the court had to concern itself with. “Your concerns are what might be said in the future and might affect his standing in the community; that is something that courts don’t necessarily engage in,” she said.

It is the prosecution’s case that a silver Ford transit van containing six people left the Regency Hotel after the shooting, including three persons dressed in tactical garda clothing. The raiders then made good their escape by using a number of parked vehicles at St Vincent’s GAA club.

Mr Murphy’s Toyota Avensis taxi and Mr Bonney’s BMW X5 jeep are both alleged to have been part of a convoy that parked up at St Vincent’s GAA club grounds before the shooting and then transported the assailants after the Ford transit van was abandoned.

Mr Byrne, from Crumlin, was shot dead at the hotel in Whitehall, Dublin 9 after five men, three disguised as armed gardaí in tactical clothing and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, stormed the building during the attack, which was hosting a boxing weigh-in at the time. The victim was shot by two of the tactical assailants and further rounds were delivered to his head and body.

Mr Byrne died after suffering catastrophic injuries from six gunshots fired from a high-velocity weapon to the head, face, stomach, hand and legs.

The trial continues on Monday before Ms Justice Burns, presiding, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.

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