Senior gangland figure Gerard Hutch has left Ireland for Spain, a month after his acquittal for involvement in the Regency Hotel attack.
It is unknown if the 60-year-old father of five has permanently moved back to Spain, where he owns property. He departed from Dublin Airport on Thursday evening.
One person who saw him entering the airport said he appeared to be travelling with only a small number of bags.
Gardaí monitoring Mr Hutch’s movements for his own safety are expected to make contact with their counterparts in Spain to alert them of his presence and any possible security risks.
Mr Hutch had been expected to leave Ireland immediately after being released from custody following the verdict at the Special Criminal Court due to the perceived threat to his life from the Kinahan gang.
However, he remained in Ireland for over a month, staying at his home in Clontarf with his family and appearing in public on a number of occasions. He has been spotted several times travelling around Dublin on a motorbike.
Gardaí believe there remains a threat to Mr Hutch’s safety but that it is much diminished compared to previous years. Many of the gunmen previously employed by the Kinahan gang are in prison and key members of both the Hutch and Kinahan gangs remain under Garda surveillance, making a murder attempt a risky proposition.
Gardaí have also been monitoring Mr Hutch for his own safety since his release from custody.
There also seems to be little appetite on either the Hutch or Kinahan side to reignite the bloody feud that claimed 18 lives over a two-year period, security sources say.
“That doesn’t mean he’s in the clear though. He will always be looking over his shoulder,” said one source.
Mr Hutch has significant assets and properties in Spain and he may be travelling there to liquidate or transfer some of these to free up cash, another garda source suggested.
He faces a hefty legal bill stemming from the lengthy and complex murder trial and from his Supreme Court case aimed at having the trial moved from the Special Criminal Court to a jury court.
Last week Mr Hutch applied for the State to pay his legal costs following his acquittal. The matter will be decided by the court next month.
The Dublin man, known as The Monk, was first arrested by police in the Costa del Sol area of Spain in August 2021 on foot of an international warrant, having spent several months on the run.
He was extradited to Ireland to face trial for the murder of David Byrne in the 2016 Regency Hotel attack. Byrne was shot dead by gunmen dressed as gardaí.
Kinahan gang leader Daniel Kinahan was the intended target of the attack but he escaped.
Mr Hutch was acquitted last month after the three-judge court rejected as untrustworthy the evidence of his associate Jonathan Dowdall who had turned State’s witness.
Two other men were found guilty of assisting in the murder by providing getaway vehicles. Last week Paul Murphy (61) and Jason Bonney (52) were jailed for nine years and eight and a half years respectively.