Sunday 22 July 2018

Murder accused would never take sides in Hutch/Kinahan feud as it had “nothing to do with” him - court hears

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

Alison O'Riordan

A Dublin man accused of murdering Gareth Hutch told gardaí he would never take sides in the Hutch/Kinahan feud as it was “between the two families” and “nothing to do with” him, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Thomas Fox also said he had no reason to fight with the Hutch family and it was “not his thing going around murdering people”.

Mr Fox said he had tried to distance himself from his co-accused Jonathan Keogh, after Mr Keogh told him there was a threat on his life. He said Mr Keogh was “mixed up with big people” and he felt nervous in his company.

Earlier, the court heard Mr Fox went to Mountjoy Garda Station after being persuaded by his mother and told officers he was there to “clear his name”. Mr Fox said his father, Michael Taylor, had been killed in 2011 and he “couldn’t put another family through that.”

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 (31) 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 of seven out of nine interviews 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.

Mr Fox told gardai he lived with his mother and had a girlfriend of five years who was expecting their baby at the time.

Mr Fox said he was in his aunt’s house on the morning Mr Hutch was killed and she told him about the shooting.

“Being nosey” he cycled down to his girlfriend's house that morning and they walked to Avondale House “to have a look” but they did not go into the flats. 

In the second interview, Mr Fox said he did not have “the stomach or the balls” to pull the trigger of a gun, adding “what kind of thick would hand himself in” to gardaí. He said it was “not in him” to shoot anyone as his father, Michael Taylor, had been shot in “front of his ma” in 2011 and nothing had been done about it. “It’s not in me to retaliate,” he said.

The accused said he knew Jonathan Keogh all of his life, but the pair had become more friendly in the previous six months after Mr Keogh started training him in the gym. They also did sunbeds together. 

Mr Fox said he did not do Mr Keogh’s business with him. "If we are in the car and his phone rings, he gets out to have the conversation," Mr Fox said. 

Mr Fox’s girlfriend warned him to stay away from Mr Keogh when he told them there was a threat on his life, the court heard. Mr Fox told gardaí that Mr Keogh said at the time: “Fuck it if they are going to get me, they are going to get me”. In recent times Mr Fox was trying to distance himself from Jonathan but he kept calling to his house and asking him to go to the gym.

Mr Fox denied he was afraid of Mr Keogh but told gardaí he was nervous in his company due to the threat on his life. He also denied to gardai that he was asked to assist in the preparation leading up to Mr Hutch’s murder and said he did not source any weapons.

Mr Fox initially told gardai that he'd been in Avondale House once or twice on the day prior to the murder, however, after viewing CCTV, he later accepted he was in Avondale House up to five times.

Mr Fox told gardaí that he was friends with Gareth Hutch’s younger cousins as they grew up in the same area. “We have nothing against each other,” he added. He said he knew Gareth Hutch was originally from Cabra and had seen him drive a taxi. 

Mr Fox said he only found out Mr Hutch was living in Avondale House when he saw him there on the day before the shooting. He said Mr Keogh became paranoid when he saw a man walking around the car park talking on his mobile phone. Gareth Hutch and his cousin Ross told Mr Keogh this man was selling a car for them. Gareth then rang this man and told him to come back to the flats as it had all been a misunderstanding. Jonathan and Gareth shook hands after this, he said. Mr Fox said he and Mr Keogh left Avondale House after the altercation and returned later that night.

When gardaí asked Mr Fox whether he took sides in the Hutch/Kinahan feud, he said he saw the Hutch's everyday as they lived near his girlfriend. “They say hello to me, I have no reason to fight with that family, if anything the people I see every day I respect. I've no reason to put my girlfriend in danger,” he said.

Mr Fox said he was not offered any financial reward or drugs reward to be involved in Mr Hutch’s murder. “I have money, I have savings, I would never raise a baby on blood money,” he said.

He told gardaí he did not want to get shot over this and his mother had seen his father shot. “I know Jonathan Keogh is mixed up with big people, I’m willing to help you,” he told gardai, adding he did not murder anyone and just wanted to clear his name.

The trial continues tomorrow with the remainder of Mr Fox's interviews with gardai. 

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