Sunday 15 September 2019

Murder accused told gardai a gun was "pushed into" his hand - court hears

Jonathan Keogh and Thomas Fox.
Jonathan Keogh and Thomas Fox.

Alison O'Riordan

A man on trial for the murder of Gareth Hutch told gardaí that his co-accused Jonathan Keogh told him he would “get it” if he did not do as Mr Keogh said and that a gun was "pushed into" his hand.

Thomas Fox (31) said he was “smack-bang" in the middle of Mr Hutch’s murder as “someone” had put him there, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

The non-jury court also heard that DNA belonging to Mr Fox was found on a jerrycan recovered from a black BMW car which was parked in the car park of a Dublin flats complex on the day before the shooting.

Further transcripts of Mr Fox’s garda interviews were read to the three-judge court today in the fourth week of the trial.

Mr Fox is one of three Dubliners accused of murdering Mr Hutch (36), nephew of Gerry “the Monk” Hutch. It is the State’s case that he was instrumental in planning the murder of Mr Hutch.

The prosecution contend that Mr Fox was parked near Avondale House in a white Ford Transit on the morning of the shooting but due to a change of plans the white van was not required.

Mr Hutch was shot dead as he was getting into his car outside Avondale House flats on North Cumberland Street in Dublin on the morning of May 24, 2016. He died as a result of four gunshot injuries.

Mr Fox with an address at Rutland Court, Dublin 1, Regina Keogh (41) from Avondale House, Cumberland Street North, Dublin 1 and Jonathan Keogh (32) of Gloucester Place, Dublin 1, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Hutch.

Mr Fox has also denied unlawfully possessing a Makarov 9 mm handgun on May 23, 2016 at the same place.

The court heard evidence today from interview eight, nine and ten conducted by gardaí with Mr Fox. Detective Garda Declan O’Brien, of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations, told prosecuting counsel Diarmaid Collins BL that gardaí arrested Mr Fox on suspicion of murder with a firearm at Mountjoy Garda Station at 7.01pm on May 24, 2016.

While in custody Mr Fox viewed CCTV and identified himself and Mr Keogh walking to Mary McDonnell’s flat in Avondale House on the night prior to the shooting. When they both arrived at Mrs McDonnell’s front door, Mr Keogh had two guns inside his front trousers, said Mr Fox. 

Mrs McDonnell is a key prosecution witness in the trial and was originally charged with withholding information, but that charge was dropped, and she has been given immunity from prosecution.

Mr Fox said Mr Keogh told him he would “get it” if he did not do as he said. “If I wasn’t under pressure I wouldn’t have done it,” said the accused.

Mr Fox later identified himself and Mr Keogh in the CCTV footage leaving Mrs McDonnell’s flat at 22.45 that night. The accused said as far as he knew Regina Keogh had asked Mrs McDonnell to use her flat. “She obviously agreed because we went up, if she said no we wouldn’t’ have gone there that night,” said Mr Fox. 

When asked if he could tell detectives about a red jerrycan found in a black BMW on the day of the murder, Mr Fox said, “I have loads of them, I pick them up all over the place”. 

When told his DNA had been found on this jerrycan which was two-thirds full of petrol, he said, “I’d say it was Jonathan Keogh who took it out of the garden, he could have taken it when I wasn’t there. He obviously used gloves,” the court was told. Detectives repeated to Mr Fox that his DNA was on this item and not Mr Keogh’s.

Mr Fox denied putting the jerrycan into the BMW car. He further denied giving Mr Keogh this jerrycan knowing he wanted to burn the car out after Mr Hutch's murder. “No, he wouldn’t have got it off me, why would I want to help him out like that when my father was murdered,” he replied.

Mr Fox further denied spray painting the windows of the BMW car despite his fingerprints being found on a tin of black spray paint. Mr Fox told gardai that Mr Keogh had asked him for spray paint and he gave him a tin from his girlfriend’s press. “I never asked why,” he added. Gardai told Mr Fox he had never asked as he knew Mr Keogh wanted it to disguise and conceal the men who had shot Mr Hutch. 

When asked to tell gardai about events leading up to and including Mr Hutch's murder, Mr Fox said he had no involvement in it. Mr Fox said he did not foresee what was going to happen and he was threatened by Mr Keogh who told him to keep his mouth shut. “The gun was pushed into my hand,” he said.

The accused said he would not get involved in someone’s murder, adding he was “smack-bang in the middle” of this because “someone” had put him in the middle of it.

Mr Fox said he was not "in and out" of Regina Keogh’s flat in Avondale House until he became friends with Mr Keogh. Mr Keogh’s mother was dead, and Regina was “the next best thing”, he said. 

The prosecution contend that Mr Keogh threatened to kill Mr Hutch the evening before the shooting, that Mr Fox and Ms Keogh were instrumental in planning the murder, and Mr Keogh and another man, Mr AB, were the shooters.

The trial continues on Monday before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Patricia Ryan and Judge Michael Walsh.

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