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 described the organisation as “very fluid”, saying its affiliates can work together or operate independently on their own or 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 a “Hutch criminal organisation”, its structure and make-up.
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Before the evidence was 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’s reputation.
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 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.
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 its 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 into organised crime and the associated crimes which accompany that from holding “front line roles”.
Since April 2016, the witness said he has been part of a senior management team with An Garda Siochana responsible for investigating criminal organisations engaged in a feud predominantly based in Dublin’s north-inner city. 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 the targeted prevention of murder and the disruption of activities.
Det Supt Gallagher said he has had first-hand knowledge of confidential information from multiple different sources regarding organised crime in Ireland including downloads from seized mobile phones, conversations and commentary on seized encrypted devices, as well as audio recordings made during investigations.
He said he could confirm that a number of investigations had resulted in a series of convictions in which people carrying firearms were intercepted on their way to carry out murders as part of the feud. He emphasised that 33 people 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 “Hutch criminal organisation”.
The detective said he had “in depth knowledge” of its structure and make up. He described the 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.
Defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr Hutch, said his client enjoyed the presumption of innocence. “He enjoys it today as much as he enjoyed it yesterday as much as he would enjoy it on the presumption that he walks out of this court as a free man at the end of the trial, the court should keep that at the forefront of its mind,” he said.
He said the evidence proposed to be called did not respect Mr Hutch’s presumption of innocence and that on its face it was hearsay and inadmissible opinion evidence. If the evidence was admitted it would be on the public record as “an opinion” for “all time”, which the barrister submitted would “damage” Mr Hutch.
Mr Grehan went on to say it was a “self evident” proposition that the Regency attack which resulted in Mr Byrne’s murder was conducted by a highly organised crime gang and queried whether it was necessary to call the evidence at all.
The lawyer submitted that what ought to be avoided is that the evidence not admissible against Mr Hutch should then be used to “tarnish” him and “follow him around”. ‘It is prejudicial to him in a general sense,” he continued.
He added: “It is unfair to him and unfair in a constitutional way in that his presumption of innocence can be taken away in effect without him being convicted. Once this is said in an open court by a senior garda it is there to be quoted for all time by the media or anyone commenting on this matter regardless of the outcome of the trial”.
Ms Justice Tara Burns told Mr Grehan that his issue was really with the “court of public opinion” and that this was not something with which the court had to concern itself. “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.
The trial continues on Monday before Ms Justice Burns, presiding, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.