The Special Criminal Court has ruled that mobile phone records are admissible as evidence in the trial of three Dubliners accused of murdering Gareth Hutch. The prosecution has closed its case on Monday in the three-judge non-jury court.
Mr Hutch (36), a nephew of Gerry ‘the Monk’ Hutch was shot dead as he got into his car outside Avondale House flats on North Cumberland Street in Dublin on May 24th, 2016. He died as a result of four gun shot injuries.
The prosecution contends that Jonathan Keogh (32) threatened to kill Mr Hutch the evening before the shooting, that Thomas Fox (31) and Regina Keogh (41) were instrumental in planning the murder, and Mr Keogh and another man, 'Mr AB', were the shooters.
Mr Fox, of Rutland Court, Dublin 1; Ms Keogh from Avondale House, Dublin 1; and Mr Keogh of Gloucester Place, Dublin 1, have pleaded not guilty to his murder. Mr Fox has also denied unlawfully possessing a Makarov 9 mm handgun on May 23rd, 2016 at the same place.
Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, told Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Patricia Ryan and Judge Michael Walsh that the prosecution had concluded giving evidence. Defence barristers for each of the accused said they had no applications to make.
The court earlier ruled that mobile phone records were admissible as evidence in the trial with Mr Justice Hunt saying it was his intention to provide reasons for this decision later in the week.
Last week the court embarked on a voir dire, or trial within a trial, relating to the mobile phone evidence.
The State sought to admit mobile phone records associated with the three accused, as well as ‘Mr AB’, who is not before the courts. It is part of the State’s case that phones identified by gardaí in their investigation can be shown to have “pinged” off phone masts at relevant times in relevant locations.
Defence lawyers argued that mobile phone evidence should not be admissible in the trial as it breached the rights to privacy of the accused. They said the retention of mobile phone data and gardaí having unrestricted access to it was in contravention of EU law.
However, Mr Burns said privacy was not an absolute right and no breach of privacy arose in this matter.
The court heard that gardaí made 38 requests for mobile phone records as part of their investigation into the killing.
At the opening of the trial eight weeks ago, 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.
Part to play
The prosecution say the three co-accused each had a part to play in bringing about the death of Mr Hutch.
During the trial the court heard evidence from a protected witness, Mary McDonnell, who identified Mr Keogh from CCTV footage as one of the gunmen who carried out the attack on Mr Hutch. She also identified Mr Fox and Mr Keogh as the men who came into her flat the night before with two guns.
Ms McDonnell, who is the key prosecution witness in the trial, was originally charged with withholding information but that charge was dropped and she has been given immunity from prosecution.
The prosecution contend that Ms McDonnell was encouraged by her “best friend” and neighbour Ms Keogh to allow Mr Keogh use her flat “as a base” to wait for Mr Hutch prior to the attack.
The trial will resume on Wednesday, when lawyers for the prosecution and defence are expected to make closing speeches.