Friday 16 November 2018

Gardaí spent €40,000 on living costs for key trial witness

Gareth Hutch
Gareth Hutch

Eimear Cotter

An estimated €40,000 has been spent in the past year on accommodation for a key witness in the Gareth Hutch murder, a trial has heard.

State witness Mary McDonnell had refused to go into the Witness Protection Programme, family liaison officers said.

The Special Criminal Court previously heard Ms McDonnell's evidence would be "important", as the accused had gathered in her home before the murder.

She has been given immunity from prosecution.

Jonathan Keogh (32), his sister Regina Keogh (41) and Thomas Fox (31) have denied the murder of Mr Hutch on May 24, 2016.

Gareth Hutch (36), a nephew of Gerry Hutch, was shot dead as he was getting into his car outside Avondale House flats on North Cumberland Street in Dublin.

It is the State's case that Jonathan Keogh, of Gloucester Place, Dublin 1, threatened to kill Mr Hutch the evening before the shooting, that Mr Fox, of Rutland Court, and Ms Keogh, of Avondale House, were instrumental in planning the murder, and Mr Keogh and another man, Mr AB, were the shooters.

A garda, who cannot be identified, said she was appointed as family liaison officer to the McDonnell family on May 26, 2016.

Her initial concern, following Ms McDonnell's arrest, was the welfare of her two daughters, and her role was to liaise with Tusla.

The garda subsequently sought accommodation for Ms McDonnell and her teenage daughters, and after her release from custody, the family were moved to this new location.

The officer said the family's accommodation and utility costs, as well as any medical or dental bills, have been covered by the Gardaí.

This was initially paid by An Garda Síochána's Liaison and Protection Section, but since March 2017, the money had come from the local fund for the North Central Division.

A copy of the costs of relocating the family was handed in to court.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt said, after doing a "quick tot, there was €25,000 to €30,000" going into the fund.

This covered the period March 2017 to May 2018, and was the cost for Ms McDonnell and one of her daughters, the garda said.

The accommodation costs for her second daughter for the same period amounted to €13,647, the court heard.

Cross-examined by Sean Guerin SC, the garda said when she first met Ms McDonnell, she "literally had the shirt on her back".

The garda said bedding, clothing, toiletries and "the cheapest" mobile phones had been bought for Ms McDonnell, at an estimated cost of €150.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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