Two gangs, experienced leaders, a vicious feud and five murders in just six months

Circumstances of murders in the Hutch-Kinahan feud speak volumes

Gardaí at the scene of a shooting on Dublin’s Sheriff Street which happened at around 12.30pm. Photograph: Colin Keegan/ Collins

Gardaí at the scene of a shooting on Dublin’s Sheriff Street which happened at around 12.30pm. Photograph: Colin Keegan/ Collins

 

With five people now dead in just six months since the first fatality in the Hutch-Kinahan dispute, the gun feud is claiming lives faster than any other seen in the history of Irish gangland crime.

Other feuds between warring factions, in both Dublin and Limerick, have seen the body count stretch well into double figures. But the murders occurred over a decade, with the violence taking time to become established and intensify.

While all feuding has the effect of terrorising communities in which it is unleashed and poses a significant and often complex security challenge for the Garda, there are a multiplicity of concerns specific to the Hutch-Kinahan dispute.

Both sides are led by experienced, strategic and well-resourced gang leaders – including Ireland’s biggest drugs dealer Christy Kinahan.

And because they have at their disposal much younger and more volatile would-be gunmen baying for their rivals’ blood, this dispute can only worsen.

The nature of the murders to date speaks volumes about the complexion of this situation.

The first victim, 34-year-old Gary Hutch from Dublin’s north inner city, was shot dead near Marbella last September.

He was gunned down in a well-planned attack paid for by the Kinahan gang because he was accused of being a Garda informer.

Wider criminal network

And yet the leadership of the Kinahan gang, which is based in southern Spain, looked past that outcome because it wanted him dead.

It also ignored efforts by some of his family members in Dublin to reach a peace agreement and even pay a large sum of money to those who wanted him dead so they would spare his life.

And when the retaliation came, it was fierce. A group of at least five armed men, three of whom were armed with AK47s, burst into a boxing tournament weigh-in at the Regency Hotel, north Dublin, in February intent on shooting members of the Kinahan gang who were present.

In front of a large public crowd and at an event that was being recorded by the media, they shot dead one gang member – 33-year-old father-of-one David Byrne from Crumlin – and wounded two others but missed their main target.

The attack was seen as a clear signal of intent to the Kinahan gang from Gary Hutch’s associates; if they wanted a full-on war they had barked up the right tree.

Within 72 hours taxi driver and father-of-five Eddie Hutch (58) was dead, simply because he was Gary Hutch’s uncle.

His killing was significant in many respects. It showed the Kinahan side of the feud was willing to target people linked to its enemies even if they had no personal involvement in the feud or even crime.

The fact Eddie Hutch’s shooting dead occurred so quickly after the Byrne murder underlined that the Kinahan gang could mobilise a killing team in Dublin just as easily as it had in killing Gary Hutch in its southern Spain base.

And the creeping into its enemies’ north inner city stronghold to shoot down Eddie Hutch, when the streets were saturated with armed gardaí, demonstrated a disturbing lack of fear and efficiency of killing.

And when cigarette smuggler Noel Duggan was shot dead at his home last month - because he was a friend of Gary Hutch’s uncle Gerry Hutch, also known as the Monk – it was clear the Kinahan gang was not intent on limiting itself to a tit-for-tat exchange.

It would shoot who it wanted, when it wanted whether they were involved in feuding or even in any form of crime once they felt it would damage their enemies, even because it simply upset them.

And the murder on Sheriff St yesterday represented another new low; a three-in-a-row would-be murder of Hutch gang associates, though a man with no involvement in the dispute was killed in a case of mistaken identity.

In between all of the murders gardaí have made no fewer than three seizures of AK47s they believe were all linked to the Hutch side of the feud.

Fleet of vehicles seized

And when even the more minor members of the gang – the street dealers – were also targeted in co-ordinated raids last month GPS tracking devices that could be used to track their enemies’ vehicles were discovered.