A man alleged to have been one of two gunmen who shot and killed a nephew of Gerard Hutch has gone on trial at the Special Criminal Court.
Fiona Murphy SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), told the three-judge, non-jury court on Thursday that the evidence will show that Thomas McConnell and Jonathan Keogh were the two gunmen who approached and shot Gareth Hutch just metres from his north Dublin home shortly before 10am on May 24th, 2016. Ms Murphy told the court that Jonathan Keogh, his sister Regina Keogh and a third man named Thomas Fox have already been convicted of the murder.
Mr McConnell was not in Ireland at the time but was returned here on foot of a European Arrest Warrant to face trial, Ms Murphy said.
Counsel said that Mr McConnell was “intrinsically involved” in the careful planning and execution of the “ambush” on Mr Hutch. She described the murder as “brutal and callous” but said it was not done on the spur of the moment. It was, she said, “premeditated with considerable planning” and there were a number of participants, each with their own roles to play.
Having heard the evidence, Ms Murphy said the court will be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of Mr McConnell’s guilt.
Mr McConnell (37) of Sillogue Gardens, Ballymun, Dublin 11, entered a plea of not guilty on Thursday to the murder of Gareth Hutch (36) on May 24th, 2016, at Avondale House, North Cumberland Street, Dublin 1.
Opening the case for the prosecution, Ms Murphy said that the day before the shooting, a black BMW with the back windows blacked out was parked at Avondale House, near to where Mr Hutch lived. She said this car was strategically parked as it was intended to be used as the getaway car following the shooting. The prosecution intends to link Mr McConnell to that car, she said.
The evening before the murder, a number of people, including Thomas Fox, Jonathan Keogh and Regina Keogh, went to the flat of a woman named Mary McDonnell from which Gareth Hutch’s home could be viewed. While there, Ms Murphy said Jonathan Keogh had a phone conversation in which he said that he wanted to kill Gareth Hutch.
Ms McDonnell was on friendly terms with Regina Keogh who encouraged her to allow Jonathan Keogh and Fox to use her flat. At 10.40pm that night, they went to Ms McDonnell’s apartment and were in possession of two guns which they wiped down and put into plastic bags. Shortly after 11pm, Regina Keogh went to Ms McDonnell’s apartment and gave her gloves that were to be used by the shooters the following day.
At about 6.45am the following morning, a Skoda Octavia was captured by CCTV in the vicinity of Avondale House. Ms Murphy said that the prosecution case is that Mr McConnell can be seen walking to that car before going to Ms McDonnell’s apartment.
Mr McConnell, she said, remained in the kitchen where he had a view of Mr Hutch’s flat while Jonathan Keogh went in and out of the bedrooms to check that the BMW was not blocked in.
Fox was nearby in a white van but was becoming nervous because the van was attracting attention, Ms Murphy said. At about 9.55am, Mr McConnell is alleged to have announced that Mr Hutch was leaving his flat by saying, “We’re on”. Ms Murphy said the accused man and Jonathan Keogh then left Ms McDonnell’s flat carrying a handgun each. They ran towards Mr Hutch and shot him four times, twice in the neck and once each in the lower back and chest, she said.
The gunmen discarded the firearms nearby and got into the BMW but were unable to get it started. After about one minute, they abandoned the BMW and ran out of the complex. They ran to the Skoda which was parked on nearby Sean McDermott Street and drove off towards Summerhill where Jonathan Keogh got out of the car.
Ms Murphy said the Skoda was later found on the Ballymun Road having been burned out. The white Transit van and BMW were not used in the getaway and were therefore found intact, she said.
Ms Murphy said part of the prosecution case will rely on DNA and forensic evidence taken from those vehicles. They will also rely on interviews Mr McConnell gave following his arrest on suspicion of the murder and other comments made by Mr McConnell to gardaí.
Ms McDonnell, counsel said, was given immunity from prosecution when she agreed to give a statement to gardaí and appear in court as a witness at the previous trials. She is in State protection, Ms Murphy said, and will be an important witness in this trial.
Mr Hutch died from his injuries and Ms Murphy said the prosecution alleges that Jonathan Keogh, Regina Keogh, Thomas Fox and Thomas McConnell were part of a joint enterprise to murder him.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Alex Owens, Judge Elma Sheahan and Judge David McHugh.