‘Hit for hire’ team stopped on way to kill Hutch family member

Three men convicted at Special Criminal Court over plot to murder Patsy Hutch

 Patsy Hutch (centre): the intended target of the gang. Photograph: Alan Betson

Patsy Hutch (centre): the intended target of the gang. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

A “hit for hire team” accused of planning to kill a Hutch family member were stopped by gardaí 250 metres from his home in Dublin’s north inner city, a court has heard.

The Special Criminal Court also heard that audio surveillance of the three-man team, which included an Afghan war veteran, picked up references to “the cartel” and “money all over the world”.

Gary Thompson (34), with an address at Plunkett Green in Finglas, Dublin 11, his brother Glen Thompson (24), of Plunkett Drive, also in Finglas, and Robert Browne (35), of Phibsboro Road in Phibsboro, Dublin 7 have admitted to unlawful possession of four firearms with intent to endanger life at Belmont Hall Apartments, Gardiner Street, Dublin 1 on March 10th, 2018.

The four firearms included a 9mm Rak sub-machine gun, a .38 Special Calibre Rossi Make Revolver, a 9mm Beretta 92 semi-automatic pistol and a 9mm Makarov semi-automatic pistol.

The maximum sentence for such an offence is life in prison and the minimum sentence is 10 years.

At Monday’s sentence hearing, Detective Superintendent David Gallagher from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, told prosecuting counsel Ronan Kennedy BL that the investigation occurred between early February and March 10th, 2018.

It arose from confidential information received concerning individuals within an organised crime gang involved in a serious feud, targeting rivals in another group “for assassination”, he said.

The detective said that surveillance was carried out on a number of people suspected to be involved and this included a number of people who are not before the court.

Other individuals were acquired to conduct the attack but this changed in early March when the three accused men became involved and took over the role as “effectively the hit for hire team”, said the witness.

Most of the planning, logistics and financing were already in place by this time, he added.

Glen Thompson first became involved on March 4th when he attended a meeting at a Santry coffee shop. Robert Browne “became visible” for the first time on March 6th when he was stopped driving his vehicle on the North Circular Road, an area of interest as it was near where the “intended target” lived, the court heard.

As a result of CCTV and audio recordings, it became apparent to investigators that there was a plan to murder Patrick “Patsy” Hutch at his address on Champion’s Avenue in Dublin 1.

The garda operation moved from surveillance into an intervention operation on March 10 as it had reached a critical point, the court heard.

The three men were seen travelling in an Audi through Finglas and the city centre at 7.14am before entering a gated underground carpark at Belmont Hall Apartments, which was located around 250 metres from Mr Hutch’s house.

The Audi reversed into a parking bay and parked up near a Ford Connect van which had been purchased on Done Deal in February and falsely registered.

Browne was driving the Audi, wearing dark clothing and a dark wig. Gary Thompson was the front seat passenger and his brother Glen was in the rear of the vehicle, he said.

The three men were seen getting out of the Audi and getting into the Ford Connect van at 7.16am.

At this point, an “armed intervention” took place by members of the Emergency Response Unit and the three men were removed from the rear of the van and arrested.

Gardaí recovered a fob to open the gates of Belmont Hall Apartments from Gary Thompson’s waistband when he was taken to Store Street Garda station later that morning, said the witness.

During his interviews with gardaí, Browne indicated that he had a drug debt and this was the reason he had become involved in the event.

Three pairs of gloves, a wig, three mobile phones, a water bottle, and several car keys were amongst the items found in the Ford Connect van.

Det Supt Gallagher agreed with Sean Gillane SC, for Browne, that logistics had been put in place independently and this event was not organised by the defendants before the court.

Giolliosa O’Lideadha SC, for Glen Thompson, submitted to the court that his guilty plea was of particular value to the court. Another factor in mitigation, the defence counsel said was that his client’s drug problems had led to him falling into debt and as a result he became involved in criminal activity.

Sean Gillane SC, for Browne, asked the court to take into consideration that his client had joined the British Army where he was well-regarded and did a number of tours in Afghanistan.

Following his decision to leave the army, he began abusing alcohol and drugs which were exacerbated by his sister’s death in 2017. “His addiction to drugs caused a danger to his own life and he is lucky to be alive,” said Mr Gillane, adding that Browne was brought into this event at a relatively late stage and took instructions rather than gave them.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Martin Nolan and Judge Ann Ryan, remanded the three men in custody until July 29th, when they will be sentenced.