James Quinn may not have shot Gary Hutch, prosecutor says

Spanish court hears alternative narrative on killing of Dublin man near Malaga in 2015

A file image of Gary Hutch who was shot dead in Spain in September 2015. File photograph:  Collins.

A file image of Gary Hutch who was shot dead in Spain in September 2015. File photograph: Collins.

 

Alleged gangland assassin James Quinn may not have been the gunman who killed Dubliner Gary Hutch in Spain almost three years ago, a prosecutor has told his trial in Malaga.

Jurors were told they could consider the option that the 35-year-old was the getaway driver if they could not agree he was the person who chased Mr Hutch around a swimming pool before shooting him dead at close range.

Prosecutor Jose Barba offered the alternative version of the September 24th, 2015 killing on the penultimate day of Mr Quinn’s murder trial.

He told the court he was still seeking a murder conviction and the same life sentence for Mr Quinn as a “necessary participant” in the killing even if jurors did not decide the Dubliner was the shooter.

The development came after a sustained defence challenge to prosecution claims that Mr Quinn was filmed swapping a baseball cap for a balaclava before chasing Mr Hutch and shooting him.

A black Oakley baseball cap containing Mr Quinn’s DNA was found in the getaway car, a BMW X3 which was set on fire a few miles from the gated residential estate in Miraflores near Fuengirola where Mr Hutch (34) was killed. It was the only garment rescued from the vehicle which suffered no fire damage.

Shielding face

Pedro Apalategui, lawyer for Mr Quinn, has challenged police and prosecution claims that a CCTV image taken just before the killing showed a man shielding his face with the visor of a baseball cap poking out from behind his arm.

The original state prosecution indictment stated Mr Quinn went to Mr Hutch’s home with one or more people after receiving orders to kill him. It says Mr Quinn “shot him twice in the head from close range” after laying in wait for him as his companion or companions waited in the getaway vehicle outside.

The alternative, handed to judge Ernesto Carlos Manzano on Wednesday, attributed the fatal shooting to an “unknown person”.

“The accused James Quinn, acting in concert with another person whose identity has not been proven, and after receiving from an unknown person the order to end to Gary Hutch’s life and executing a pre-conceived plan, went with that person to the victim’s home in a stolen BMW.

“Once they arrived, the accused James Quinn waited inside the vehicle to act as a look-out and ensure their subsequent getaway while his companion got inside the complex.”

The document also drops any mention of a baseball cap.

Wednesday’s hearing started with the jury being shown footage of the sequence of events leading up to the murder, which sparked the deadly feud between the Kinahan and Hutch groups.

Mr Hutch, a nephew of Gerry ‘the Monk’ Hutch, could be seen racing from an underground garage in a mustard-yellow top and grey shorts with a maskedman brandishing a pistol close behind.

A Civil Guard officer, wearing a balaclava to mask his face for security reasons, gave a running commentary on the footage.

“You can clearly see how the victim is pursued by his killer in a circular fashion round the swimming pool,” the investigator said. “The first time they run round he has an advantage but on the second lap the attacker catches up with him.

“He leaves after he has executed the plan he came to carry out.”

Slumping

Mr Hutch was seen slumping dead on the ground in the footage, and the detonation from the killer’s gun could be seen in the bottom left-hand corner of the TV screen. The shooter and Mr Hutch were not in the same shot when the murder occurred.

A forensic pathologist involved in Mr Hutch’s postmortem, who did not say his name in open court, said the deceased suffered eight injuries caused by four gunshot wounds.

One punctured his lung and the “killer” two bullets, fired from a distance of “40cm to 50cm” and “approximately a metre,” hit him in the head.

A Civil Guard ballistics expert, identified only by his service number, said nine shell casings from the 9mm Glock 256 semi-automatic pistol were found at the murder scene but there was no evidence a .45 semi-automatic COLT 1911 pistol found in the getaway car had been used.

A colleague who calculated Quinn’s height based on screen-grabs taken from the CCTV images said he had estimated the killer was 1.82m with an error margin of 3cm. This was before the Irishman was identified as a suspect and measured barefoot at 1.85m after his September 2016 arrest.

Jurors also heard a factory-issue semi-automatic pistol which had been modified so it became an automatic “weapon of war” had been found among Mr Quinn’s belongings during a police search of his Spanish home.

The jury is expected to be sent out to consider its verdict on Thursday after closing speeches are heard.