Garda ‘concerned’ for witness in Hutch murder trial

Two men and a woman accused of roles in fatal shooting of Dublin man two years ago

Gardaí at the scene  at Avondale House on  Cumberland Street where Gareth Hutch was shot dead. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Gardaí at the scene at Avondale House on Cumberland Street where Gareth Hutch was shot dead. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Gardaí became “immediately concerned” for the safety of a key witness in the Gareth Hutch murder trial after she gave them a statement about the shooting, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Mr Hutch (36), a nephew of Gerry “The Monk” Hutch, died after being shot four times as he was getting into his car outside Avondale House flats on North Cumberland Street in Dublin on the morning of May 24th, 2016.

Thomas Fox (31) with an address at Rutland Court, Dublin 1, Regina Keogh (41) from Avondale House, Cumberland Street North, Dublin 1 and Mr Keogh (32) of Gloucester Place, Dublin 1, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Hutch.

Mr Fox has also denied unlawfully possessing a Makarov 9 mm handgun on May 23rd, 2016 at the same place.

Giving evidence on Monday, Detective Sergeant Enda O’Sullivan told prosecution counsel Paul Burns SC he observed Mary McDonnell coming from the bin area of Avondale House on May 25th, 2016 and met her at the bottom of the stairwell. He informed her he had a warrant to search her flat.

He agreed that in the course of the search there was a “general conversation” between Mrs McDonnell and gardaí­. “She began to disclose information in relation to a row that had occurred on the evening before the murder,” he said.

The witness said Det Sgt Peter Woods asked Mrs McDonnell if she was wiling to make a statement in relation to what she saw and she agreed.

Det Sgt O’Sullivan said he was present when Mrs McDonnell began to disclose information during her statement in relation to the murder and the planning of it. The witness said Mrs McDonnell was cautioned and she then continued to disclose further information. The statement was read over to Mrs McDonnell and she signed it, he added.

Det Sgt O’Sullivan said he was “immediately concerned” for Mrs McDonnell and her two children’s safety as a result of her statement. He said his immediate thinking was to bring the three of them to a safe place, Mountjoy Garda station. The witness said when he returned to Mountjoy Garda station that day he verified Mrs McDonnell’s account by viewing CCTV footage alongside her statement. He then arrested Mrs McDonnell on suspicion of murder as she had provided details in the course of her statement which inculpated her in the murder, he said.

She was then brought to the Bridewell Garda station and separated from her two daughters. She was detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007 and interviews with her commenced.

The court previously heard that Mrs McDonnell was originally charged with withholding information but that charge was dropped and she has been given immunity from prosecution.

At the opening of the trial, the prosecution told the court that the killing of Mr Hutch was not a spontaneous or spur of the moment act but a “brutal and callous murder”. “It was premeditated and a significant amount of planning had gone into it,” counsel said.

The prosecution contend that Mr Keogh threatened to kill Mr Hutch the evening before the shooting, that Mr Fox and Ms Keogh were instrumental in planning the murder, and Mr Keogh and another man, Mr AB, were the shooters.

The trial continues.