A gunman who “indiscriminately” emptied a revolver at a brother of Gerard Hutch outside his home in Stoneybatter wanted to “ingratiate” himself with the Kinahan crime faction as he was under pressure to repay a significant drugs debt, his defence lawyer told a sentencing hearing on Monday.
In her victim impact statement, the wife of John Hutch – Ms Vera Hutch – told the Special Criminal Court that she saw a man with two guns at the rear of her house that day in September 2016 and thought she was going to be shot. She said that the incident never leaves her mind, that she thinks about it all the time and that “everything stopped” for her that day.
Michael Carroll (43), of Bride St, Dublin 8 was originally charged with the attempted murder of John Hutch, who was then 63-years-old and has since died, in a shooting at his Drumalee Avenue home in Stoneybatter, just off the North Circular Road, Dublin 7, on September 2nd, 2016.
Last March, Carroll – who was extradited from the UK last April – instead pleaded guilty to a new charge of having in his possession or control a firearm with intent to endanger life, contrary to Section 15 of the Firearms Act, at Drumalee Avenue on the same date.
Carroll was also charged with twice attempting to murder Edward Staunton on the night of March 26th, 2017 at James Joyce Street, Dublin 1 and again at Peadar Kearney House, Railway St, Dublin 1.
In that attack, Carroll ran over his victim in a car – knocking him into the air – before tracking Mr Staunton down and shooting him twice as he lay on the ground awaiting help.
However, at the three-judge court last March, Carroll pleaded guilty to one of those two charges; the attempted murder of Mr Staunton at Railway Street on March 26th, 2017.
Defence barrister Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC told the court on Monday that he was not in a position to put forward mitigation documents. The court heard that the rest of the sentence hearing would be dealt with on July 31st next.
At Monday’s sentence hearing Det Gda Michael Lennon told prosecuting counsel Sean Gillane SC that the first offence arose out of an incident at Drumalee Avenue on the North Circular Road on September 2nd, 2016, where a number of shots were fired in the direction of John Hutch.
Outlining the events, Det Gda Lennon said that Carroll went to the rear of Mr Hutch’s residence and placed a tracker device under a Nissan car owned by Mr Hutch. The tracker had noted Mr Hutch’s movements between August 30th and September 2nd.
Carroll, the court heard, was captured on CCTV footage carrying a bag and leaving School Street Flats on September 2nd before getting into an Opel Astra vehicle.
That vehicle, Mr Gillane said, had been stolen from Naas on August 30th and captured entering Drumalee Road at 5.20pm on September 2nd, near the entrance to Mr Hutch’s house.
At that point, another car in which Mr Hutch and his wife had been travelling was parking at the rear of their house. The Opel Astra car approached them at speed and came to an abrupt halt. Carroll came to Mr Hutch’s vehicle armed with two firearms, the first containing seven rounds of ammunition and the second had six rounds. Mr Hutch ran into his back garden shutting the gate.
Carroll, who dropped one of the two weapons, was seen running to the gate with one revolver in his hand before firing into the garden “indiscriminately” where the victim’s daughter was also present, said Mr Gillane.
Mr Hutch’s wife, Vera Hutch, could be seen running across the road in the CCTV footage. Mr Gillane said that all rounds of ammunition were fired from the revolver and Carroll had retrieved the second weapon before making good his escape. The Opel Astra car was later found burnt out.
Mr Gillane said a large amount of CCTV footage in the case was retrieved and a man matching Carroll’s description could be seen running towards the Phoenix Park in the aftermath of the incident, where a change of clothes was located. Carroll ultimately returned to the School Street Flats and could be seen on CCTV footage crawling towards the door of a flat. He went to the Liberty Bar on Meath Street shortly after midnight that day and engaged with a number of people.
Carroll was arrested on February 27th but nothing of evidential value was attained in his interviews, said the detective. In her victim impact statement, Ms Vera Hutch said that after the gunman shot over the wall she thought he was going to kill her as she saw two guns. “That will never leave my mind,” she said. She said she thought her husband or daughter were already shot at the time.
Ms Hutch said in her statement that she still gets flashbacks, is on antibiotics and doesn’t even answer the door now without checking who is there. “I can’t believe how I didn’t lose my daughter or husband that day, I think about it all the time,” she said. Ms Hutch said “everything stopped” for her that day. She said she has stopped going to the gym, is paranoid all the time, that the guards were always outside the house and everything was “turned upside down”.
John Hutch subsequently died in July 2019 from injuries sustained from falling down the stars at his Stoneybatter home.
The court heard that Carroll has 58 previous convictions which include six robbery and three theft offences as well as convictions for drug offences and possession of knives. Under cross-examination, the detective garda agreed with defence counsel Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, for Carroll, that his client never fought his extradition from the UK or applied for bail. Mr Ó Lideadha put it to the detective that sworn information was provided to gardaí that Carroll wanted to ingratiate himself with the Kinahan/Byrne faction, where he was believed to be under pressure to repay a significant financial debt – “a drug debt arising from his own addictions”.
Det Gda Sheehan accepted what was provided in the sworn information was “the correct view”, that Carroll had become increasingly addicted to drugs and that these offences had occurred in that context.
A governors’ report from Mountjoy Prison was sought for Carroll on a previous occasion and it was indicated today that it is a “very positive” report and that the defendant was an enhanced prisoner who is taking education classes.
The court heard that Mr Staunton didn’t want to give a victim impact statement to the court. Mr Justice Tony Hunt, sitting with Judge Elma Sheahan and Judge Alan Mitchell, remanded Carroll in custody until July 31st, when a plea in mitigation by the defendant’s barrister will be made to the court.