Kinahan cartel ‘foot soldier’ jailed over failed plot to murder Patsy Hutch

Judge says gang involved in murder, drug and weapon trafficking as Mark Capper sentenced

The judge said the 31-year-old was initially prepared to serve on the frontline and offered up ideas for the murder plan

The judge said the 31-year-old was initially prepared to serve on the frontline and offered up ideas for the murder plan

 

The Kinahan crime organisation carries out “execution-type murders” and trafficks drugs and firearms “on an international scale”, the Special Criminal Court has found.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt on Thursday said the non-jury court accepted garda evidence on the organisation and structure of the cartel as he jailed a “foot soldier” for 7½ years for helping to plan the murder of Patrick ‘Patsy’ Hutch.

Mr Justice Hunt said Mark Capper “knew well” what was being contemplated by his associates and he had a “shrewd appreciation” of the detail and methodology to be used in the proposed murder.

The judge said the 31-year-old’s conduct was intentional as opposed to reckless and he was initially prepared to serve on the frontline and offered up ideas for the plan to murder Mr Hutch. There was no doubt that Capper was aware of the nature and structure of the Kinahan organisation, the judge added.

Capper was most likely “dropped” from the plot as he was not sufficiently on board due to his reservations and state of mind, pointed out the judge.

Referring to the Kinahan criminal organisation, Mr Justice Hunt said the court accepted garda evidence that it is an organised crime gang involved in “execution-type murders” in the context of feuds “to protect its core activities”, which include “organised drugs and firearms” offences on “an international scale”.

Sub-cells

He said the court also accepted that the crime gang operated “an organised hierarchical structure” with “cells and sub-cells” to “segregate activities and limit knowledge” among gang members. The gang also operated on directions from superiors within this hierarchy.

Capper admitted helping the organised crime group plan to kill Mr Hutch, the older brother of Gerry ‘the Monk’ Hutch, but he pulled out three days before the attempted murder.

Capper, of Cappagh Green, Finglas, Dublin 11, pleaded guilty in March to having knowledge of the existence of a criminal organisation and participating in activities intended to facilitate the commission of a serious offence by that criminal organisation, or any of its members, to wit the murder of Mr Hutch between February 1st and March 10th, 2018.

During a sentence hearing earlier this month, the court heard Capper was hired by the Kinahan organised crime group and the arrival of Storm Emma scuppered a first plot to murder Mr Hutch.

Passing sentence on Thursday, Mr Justice Hunt, presiding at the three-judge court, said that Detective Inspector David Gallagher gave evidence on May 11th last, where he specifically identified the criminal organisation as the Kinahan organised crime group. He said the court found that this was “uncontroverted evidence” establishing the identity of the organisation, whose activities involved execution-type murders as well as the trafficking of drugs and firearms on an international scale.

The court further accepted the crime group was organised in a hierarchical structure with sub-cells engaged to advance these core activities. These sub-cells operated on the directions of superiors within the hierarchy and had limited knowledge of those further down the organisation, he said. The evidence established that there was a determination to murder Mr Hutch and a sub-cell was devoted to that purpose, which involved advanced planning, he said.

Mr Justice Hunt said an intelligence operation was led from the outset and surveillance had identified ten persons directly involved in this enterprise. The target of the operation was not known to gardaí at the early stage but it became apparent towards the end of February 2018 that the organisation was trying to murder Mr Hutch and it was based on three central elements.

Staging post

The first was to set up a “staging post” at Belmont apartments which was midway between two locations associated with the target Patrick Hutch. The second was a “ruse” to commit criminal damage “to lure” Mr Hutch from his home to the murder scene while a “looker” would give the “hit team” the signal when he was on his way. The third element was to have a “getaway location” at Stoney Road in East Wall in Dublin 3 where the gunmen would go through a pedestrian tunnel and a car would be waiting on the other side to take them away.

Capper did not appear as a participant within the sub-cell until February 24th, 2018 and there were recordings of specific conversations between Capper and Michael Burns - who has also pleaded guilty to the same offence - concerning Mr Hutch’s movements. These recordings included references to drawing Mr Hutch out of his home, gardaí presence in certain areas, the underground car park at Belmont Hall Apartments on Gardiner Street and the burning of a getaway vehicle, said the judge.

Capper had expressed concern about getting arrested, was reluctant about carrying out the plan, had concerns regarding the weather and referred to needing more weapons, pointed out Mr Justice Hunt.

Audio surveillance of a vehicle recorded Capper asking Michael Burns for a loan of €50, which he was refused. Mr Justice Hunt said this shed light on Capper’s financial motivation for his involvement in the incident as he was obviously struggling with money at the time.

He said the defendant “knew well” what was contemplated by his associates and he had a “shrewd appreciation” of the detail and methodology to be used in the proposed murder. Capper was also capable of expressing doubt as to the details of the proposed plan and participants had considerable reservations and scepticism about his participation in the incident, he said.

Mr Justice Hunt said the prosecution had established a link between Capper’s conduct and the serious offence contemplated by the criminal organisation. The evidence established that he had assisted in the preparation for the very grave crime of murder and his conduct was intentional as opposed to reckless, he said, adding that he was initially prepared to serve on the frontline and had offered ideas on the plan.

“Capper’s intentional assistance was provided to a criminal organisation of a very serious type and there was no doubt he was aware of the nature and structure of the Kinahan organisation,” said the judge. Undoubtedly, Capper was of considerable assistance to the Kinahan organisation and it must be accepted his acts of facilitation and assistance terminated three days before the proposed murder, said the judge. However, Capper had not assisted to the full extent that was originally contemplated by him and no serious crime actually occurred, he continued.

It was not known if Capper actively withdrew or if his retainer was withdrawn but given the reservations expressed, it was most likely the defendant was dropped from the plot as he was not sufficiently on board due to his state of mind, said the judge.

Capper had caused inconvenience to the Kinahan organisation when he dropped out on March 7th, he said. He also noted that the fact serious harm or death did not ensue was due to the fine work of gardaí and no thanks to Capper or his cohorts.

The judge set the headline sentence at 11 years in prison. The weightiest mitigation factor was his early guilty plea and he was entitled to a 25 percent discount from the headline sentence resulting in a sentence of eight years and three months, he said.

Drug addiction

The court heard Capper, who has 65 previous convictions and has experienced drug addiction, had an IQ of 63 when he was 13-years-old and attended a school for pupils with learning disabilities.

The judge said Capper’s involvement in the event arose from his financial circumstances and his drug addiction and further suspended the last nine months of the sentence

Mr Justice Hunt, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Dermot Dempsey, sentenced Capper to eight years and three months imprisonment with the final nine months suspended, backdated to December 5th 2019, when he went into custody.

In July 2019, a three-man “hit for hire team” received sentences totalling 36½ years at the Special Criminal Court for planning to kill Mr Hutch. They were intercepted by gardaí just 250 metres from his home in Dublin’s north inner city.

Gary Thompson (35) and his brother Glen Thompson (25) were each jailed for 12½ years. Robert Browne (36) was sentenced to 11½ years.

They 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.