Sunday 19 January 2020

Gareth Hutch murder needed considerable thought and preparation, trial hears

Murder victim Gareth Hutch.
Murder victim Gareth Hutch.
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

THE murder of Gareth Hutch was not a sudden or spur of the moment attack but involved considerable thought and preparation by the killers, a trial has heard.

Prosecution counsel Paul Burns SC said that for whatever reason Jonathan Keogh (32) and Regina Keogh (41) believed Mr Hutch posed a threat to their safety.

The only way to remove that threat, the court heard, was to kill Gareth Hutch.

Siblings Jonathan and Regina Keogh together with Thomas Fox (31) have pleaded not guilty before the Special Criminal Court to the murder of Mr Hutch.

A nephew of Gerry "The Monk" Hutch, the 36-year-old was shot dead outside Avondale House on North Cumberland Street on May 24, 2016.

In his closing speech this morning, Mr Burns said it was the State's case that Mr Keogh was one of the gunmen.

Pic Shows: Jonathan Keogh or Johnny Keogh (LEFT IN WAIST COAT AND DICKIE BOW) and Thomas Tossy Fox. Both men are accused of murder of Gareth Hutch. Johnny Keogh is the brother of Hutch Gang murder victim Michael Keogh. Michael was shot dead on May 31st 2017 in an underground car park in Dorset Street.
Pic Shows: Jonathan Keogh or Johnny Keogh (LEFT IN WAIST COAT AND DICKIE BOW) and Thomas Tossy Fox. Both men are accused of murder of Gareth Hutch. Johnny Keogh is the brother of Hutch Gang murder victim Michael Keogh. Michael was shot dead on May 31st 2017 in an underground car park in Dorset Street.

Mr Burns alleged Regina Keogh was "central and fundamental" in the plan to kill Mr Hutch.

She helped to procure the use of protected witness, Mary McDonnell's flat to stake out Mr Hutch's flat, he said.

Ms Keogh also gave surgical gloves to Ms McDonnell for the gunmen to use and arranged for money to be sent to her brother after he fled to Belfast.

Mobile phone data also showed that two phones associated with Mr AB, the second shooter, was in regular contact with Ms Keogh's phone soon after the shooting and for most of that day, the lawyer said.

In relation to Mr Fox, Mr Burns alleged he retrieved the guns the night before the attack and brought them to Mrs McDonnell's flat, where they were wiped down.

The court heard Mr Fox also was out and about the next morning, waiting in a white van, to assist in the aftermath of the shooting.

In his closing speech, Mr Burns said it appeared Mr Keogh saw himself as a "protector" over his sister and her family.

He said Mr Keogh "may have been fearful" of an attack on his sister and her family.

Regina Keogh
Regina Keogh

He may also have been "paranoid", Mr Burns said, as CCTV footage showed him chasing a man in the car park of Avondale House, a man who was there to buy a car.

Mr Burns said the court was also shown CCTV footage of an altercation between Mr Keogh and Mr Hutch the day before the murder.

The men ended up shaking hands but when Mrs McDonnell told Ms Keogh it was all over, she replied "no, that's just the beginning".

"For whatever reason, Mr Keogh believed Gareth Hutch posed some sort of threat to the safety of his sister", the lawyer said.

Mrs McDonnell gave evidence, he said, that Mr Keogh told Mr Hutch if anything happened to his sister or family he would come after him.

Meanwhile, Ms Keogh appeared to view Mr Hutch as a threat to her brother, the lawyer said.

Mrs McDonnell gave evidence that Regina told her Jonathan would be shot if she didn't let them use the flat. "It's the only way it's going to happen, otherwise Johnny's going to be shot".

Mr Burns said it was against this background the threat needed to be removed, and the only way to do that was by killing Mr Hutch.

He said there was a "large body of circumstantial evidence" in the case, including mobile phone evidence of contact between numbers linked to the accused, CCTV footage of their movements in the hours leading up to the shooting, as well as CCTV footage of vehicles which can be linked to the accused.

This evidence should be viewed, not in isolation, but in conjunction, with the eye-witness accounts of the gunmen running to Champions Avenue and getting into a Skoda Octavia linked to Mr Keogh, said Mr Burns.

The lawyer also referenced the evidence of a friend of Mr Keogh's ex-girlfriend, who said she saw him running down Rutland Street looking "panicked" soon after the shooting.

Mr Burns will continue his closing address this afternoon.

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