CAUGHT ON CAMERA |
Gerry Hutch met IRA man caught with Regency guns the day after brother Eddie’s funeral
So what exactly was ‘The Monk’ doing getting up close and personal with a man who would later be nabbed with the weapons used in the attack and how did he not know he would be under heavy surveillance?
Today at 13:30
Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch was grieving for his brother Eddie on the day he hopped into Jonathan Dowdall’s Toyota Land Cruiser and headed to Donegal, where he met with Shane Rowan, the man later caught with the Regency AK47s and a third man.
In fact, the trip on February 20, 2016 was the day after popular ‘Neddy’s’ funeral service, which was the focus of a huge security operation by gardaí.
Dublin’s north inner city and indeed key members of the Hutch family, including Gerry and brother Patsy, were living under a critical threat to life.
If anyone was living under an illusion that the Kinahan backlash would come, no doubts were left after the murder of ‘Neddy’ on the doorstep of his home on Popular Row just a few days earlier.
He was riddled with bullets as he returned from the shops by a suspected Kinahan hit team, who had escaped into the city after claiming the first of many victims in retaliation for the shooting of David Byrne.
Gerry Hutch, the State claims, is a veteran criminal who has been suspected of involvement in the highest level of organised crime for decades.
So what exactly was ‘The Monk’ doing getting up close and personal with a man who would later be nabbed with the weapons used in the attack and how did he not know he would be under heavy surveillance following the organised crime in Ireland?
The evidence detailed this week relied heavily on CCTV footage of cars moving about over three days: February 20, March 7 and 9, 2016.
The comprehensive collection of images of the cars and the individuals as they stop for coffee at service stations or pass cameras fixed to buildings has only been possible because of the surveillance operation that was in place to follow Hutch and other key individuals around, as the State say, they attempted to get the AK47s back to the North.
Not only is Gerry Hutch well known to Gardaí, but he has one of those rugged and interesting faces that is memorable to most people in Dublin and beyond.
At one point, after he paid money to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), he was voted one of Ireland’s sexiest men by Social and Personal magazine and was regularly photographed. It would be fair to say that at one point, he enjoyed a sort of celebrity status.
Yet on February 20, 2016, he chose to travel to Donegal with former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall, who will give evidence.
So far, the court has been told that Dowdall will say he was tricked by Hutch to book a room in the Regency Hotel which was used by the gunman ‘Flat Cap’ Kevin Murray.
The Special Criminal Court has also been told Dowdall will say he was asked by Hutch to operate as a ‘go between’ with the IRA as he claims ‘The Monk’ tried to broker peace with the Kinahans.
Dowdall, Hutch and his brother Patsy were caught on CCTV at a Newry petrol station during the trip.
Dowdall and Hutch went North again on March 7, 2016, this time to Strabane, where their vehicle was not only under surveillance but bugged.
Hutch, the court has heard, was captured on the recording saying: “It’s hard to get involved where the Kinahans are concerned, ‘cause if it doesn’t work, the messenger gets it”. He was also recorded saying that he didn’t want to show a “weak hand.”
The court was also shown footage from March 9, 2016, filmed in a Dublin industrial estate, where four cars move around in sequence.
While the drivers of two – Shane Rowan and Patsy Hutch – were identified in the vast amounts of CCTV harvested, there has been no image of Gerry Hutch shown to the court.
In fact, it is Patsy Hutch – driving a Toyota Yaris car – who liaises with Shane Rowan just a half an hour before the convicted IRA man’s car was stopped, searched and found to contain the weapons.
Like all trials, the Regency swings like a see-saw, and while one minute it looks like the man in the dock is nailed, at other moments it seems there is no smoking gun.
But the Special Criminal Court will wait to see the full picture with statements which are likely to be made in coming weeks.
The gardaí who were on the ground, while the cameras picked up the images, will make it difficult for the defence to argue any technical mistakes with the evidence.
The ’facts’ will be placed together with testimony, largely from State Witness Dowdall who will claim that ‘The Monk’ told him he was part of the team that had shot Byrne.
Co-accused Jason Bonney and Paul Murphy are denying they facilitated the murder by providing cars used in the crime.
The trial continues.