How the DPP, and the Gardai, Got it so, Wrong, the Monk, at Home, at present.

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Gerry Hutch will spend rest of life looking over shoulder but State left with bloody nose after Regency murder acquittal

  • Published: 7:00, 21 Apr 2023

IT was perhaps the least surprising thing this week, the acquittal of Gerry Hutch.

The Special Criminal Court’s four-hour judgment had us believing the Monk was guilty, then innocent, then guilty again throughout.

Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch outside the Special Criminal Court after he was found not guilty of the murder of David Byrne in 2016
Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch outside the Special Criminal Court after he was found not guilty of the murder of David Byrne in 2016Credit: PA:Press Association
State witness Jonathan Dowdall
State witness Jonathan Dowdall

But the final words, when they were delivered, were always going to be: “We find the defendant not guilty of the charge.”

Every journalist who had covered the extraordinary trial agreed the three judges would find it impossible to record a guilty verdict. The evidence simply wasn’t there to convict the Monk of the murder of David Byrne at the Regency on February 5, 2016.

And so it proved to be on Monday.

Presiding judge Tara Burns delivered a forensic parsing of the evidence, or lack of it, in her marvellously dramatic judgment.

While acquitting the Monk, she did say the court was satisfied that members of the Hutch family carried out the attack. Justice Burns also said they could infer that Gerry Hutch “gave the go-ahead”.

However, it was not the prosecution case that Hutch had planned the assault.

Instead, the State had claimed he was actually at the Regency and that he had personally shot Byrne dead — an admission that State witness Jonathan Dowdall claimed Hutch made to him in the days that ­followed the gangland murder. However, there was no evidence to support that assertion, the Supreme Court concluded.

The state’s case had solely relied on the evidence of Dowdall, a born liar. It had no corroborating evidence at all. And because of that there was simply no way the Monk would go down.

So the Monk was set free. What he did next was vintage Gerry. Ever the showman — this is a guy who ran a Limo business for the stars — he emerged through the front doors of the court.

His long mane and desert island beard, which he had refused to shave since being arrested in Spain on August 12, 2021, were a sight to behold as he strode purposely out on to Parkgate street before turning left up Infirmary road.

A pack of hacks and snappers followed his every move. They fired question after question at him, but the Monk remained steadfastly silent throughout. He didn’t need to say a thing. His being there told the story.

He asked a garda to hail a taxi for him; she duly obliged and Gerry climbed on board. The driver did a u-turn and off it carried his most famous passenger ever back to his family on Champions Avenue, a couple of miles on the other side of town.

To a party. The clinking of glasses and a Chinese dinner of Cantonese duck and pancakes.

The residents of the close-knit community where the Hutches call home united to greet their most famous son, fresh from his victory over the machinery of the state.

One local beamed: “Some people are just buzzing at the news.

“There will be a lot of parties in the north inner city tonight and a few sore heads tomorrow.

“Gerry Hutch is well thought of in this community, while the Kinahan cartel are detested. It was great to see him walk out the front door and everyone was laughing at that.”

There were many others not laughing at the Monk’s acquittal, including those in the office of the DPP who brought the murder charge in the first place.

It was a serious defeat for them and the gardai who had spent more than seven years investigating the Regency attack. That at the end of it all no one senior in the Hutch clan has been convicted of David Byrne’s murder will have them reeling.

The office of the DPP will no doubt conduct a review to see where it went wrong. Could they have charged the Monk with a different offence, say directing a criminal organisation, or conspiracy to murder? Maybe that would have resulted in a different verdict. Who knows. Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing. But the Monk’s acquittal has given the state a bloody nose.

The gardai, it has to be said, have been relentless in pursuing those involved in the Kinahan-Hutch feud. The Kinahan gang is no longer the force it once was in Dublin. Dozens of its foot soldiers are being bars. The bosses are stuck in Dubai. Should they ever set foot outside the desert they know the American authorities will have them arrested and whisked to a maximum security federal penitentiary post haste.

That is their biggest fear, to end up behind bars 23 hours a day in a cell with a window so narrow and angled such that the only thing they’d be able to see for the rest of their lives is the sky. They’d exercise alone in the yard, one hour a day, again with only the sky to distract them from the awfulness of their situation.

The Monk too, may feel as if all his birthdays have come at once now he’s beaten the murder rap. But he’ll spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder. The gardai too will no doubt continue to relentlessly pursue him and the criminal organisation he heads up.

He’ll never be able to breathe easy. Free, yes, but what is freedom if you live in a world of fear?

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