Wednesday 23 January 2019

State witness in Gareth Hutch murder trial not in the Witness Protection Programme, court hears

Gareth Hutch was shot dead.
Gareth Hutch was shot dead.
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

A FAMILY liaison officer has told the Gareth Hutch murder trial that a State witness is not in the Witness Protection Programme but is being "protected" and "managed at a local level".

The officer, who cannot be identified, said that State witness Mary McDonnell and her two daughters were living in accommodation "which is not five star" but was "suitable for their safety and protection".

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

She has been given immunity from prosecution.

Jonathan Keogh (32), his sister Regina Keogh (41) and Thomas Fox (31) have all pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Hutch on May 24, 2016.

Mr Fox, of Rutland Court, Dublin 1, has also denied having a Makorov handgun in suspicious circumstances on May 23, 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.

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 and Ms Keogh were instrumental in planning the murder, and Mr Keogh and another man, Mr AB, were the shooters.

This morning, the garda said she was appointed as family liaison officer to the McDonnell family on May 26, 2016 and had no further part in the investigation into the shooting of Mr Hutch.

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

The garda subsequently sought suitable accommodation for Ms McDonnell and her daughters, and following her release from custody, the family was moved to this new location.

The officer said she initially provided new bedding, clothing and mobile phones to the family.

The court heard that An Garda Siochana, at a local level, has been covering the family's accommodation and utility costs, as well as any medical or dental bills

The garda also said that certain steps had to be taken in order for Ms McDonnell's daughters to finish out their education.

Ms McDonnell is also not in any formal Witness Protection Programme, the court heard.

In cross examination, Sean Guerin SC, asked the officer if the new accommodation was comparable to that at Avondale House.

The garda said the family was living in "accommodation that is not five star".

The court heard the accommodation had two bedrooms and was "suitable for a family of three".

Mr Guerin asked the officer if the current living arrangements were dependant on Ms McDonnell giving evidence, and if there had been any commitment as to how long the accommodation would be provided.

"No, It's a fluid situation. There's been no promises, inducements or enhancements. Ms McDonnell is willingly giving evidence", said the officer.

The lawyer also asked if Ms McDonnell ever expressed her dissatisfaction with the arrangements.

"No", said the garda, "from the start there was no wish list provided. Her only concern was the safety and protection of her children."

The trial continues this afternoon before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, with Judge Patricia Ryan and Judge Michael Walsh.

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