Three-man 'hit team' jailed over foiled gangland murder of Patsy Hutch
Three men who formed a “hit team” in the planned gangland murder of a member of the Hutch family have been jailed.
Brothers Glen and Gary Thompson were both jailed for 12 and a half years while accomplice Robert Browne were sentenced to 11 and a half years, for possessing handguns with intent to endanger life.
The three were caught with a submachine gun and three handguns in a van in an underground car park 250 metres from the home of the planned "target," Patrick "Patsy" Hutch.
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said when gardaí intervened, “the use of multiple deadly weapons was close at hand” after “lengthy preparations for the planned murder of Mr Hutch."
The accused were charged with possession of four firearms with intent to endanger life at Belmont Hall Apartments, Gardiner Street, Dublin 1, on March 10, 2018.
The weapons were a 9mm Rak submachine gun, a .38 special calibre Rossi make revolver, a 9mm Beretta 92 semi-automatic pistol and a 9mm Makarov semi-automatic pistol.
Gary Thompson (34), of Plunkett Green, Finglas, Dublin 11, Glen Thompson (23), of Plunkett Drive, Finglas, and Browne (35), of Phibsboro Road in Phibsboro, Dublin 7 had pleaded guilty.
Today, Mr Justice Hunt, presiding, with with Judge Martin Nolan and Judge Ann Ryan, said the crime had arisen in the context of the execution of an “organised plan to murder” Mr Hutch.
“Numerous loaded highly dangerous and effective weapons” were seized, he said.
It could not be said that any of the accused were operating under threat, but instead “financial gain was the motivation."
In mitigation, none of the accused could be characterised as a high-level organiser, the judge said.
Nonetheless, they were clearly prepared to assist extensively.
The firearms had “enormous potential for death and destruction” and the accused were prepared to be “intimately involved in” the killing.
The three had been effectively caught red-handed due to “excellent police work,” Mr Justice Hunt said. The principal mitigation for all three was their guilty pleas.
Browne was given a further discount due to admissions he had made to gardai.
The judge congratulated gardai on the successful conclusion of an “undoubtedly difficult and dangerous operation.”
The sentences, handed down at the Special Criminal Court this afternoon were all backdated to March 10, 2018.
At a hearing two weeks ago, Det Supt David Gallagher said in early 2018, confidential information was received about individuals within an organised crime gang who were involved in a serious feud, targeting rivals in another group “for assassination.”
Others were to have been involved in the planned attack but this changed in March and the three took over the role as “effectively the hit team.”
Through audio recordings and CCTV, it became apparent there was a plan to murder Patrick “Patsy” Hutch as he left his address at Champion’s Avenue in Dublin 1.
There were three parts to the plan; first, to move a van into an underground car park at the apartment building near Mr Hutch’s address.
This van was to be used as a staging post for the hit team while they were waiting for a signal that the target was on the move.
The second part was to have a getaway vehicle parked at Stoney Road in East Wall, with an escape route to it through a pedestrian tunnel.
The third part of the plan was to be in position in the van in the early morning and wait for a phone call from a “looker” who would have sight of the target as he left his address.
The hit team would alight from the van, into a waiting vehicle and intercept and kill the target, Det Supt Gallagher said.
Browne was heard on an audio recording saying of another man: “I just don’t like the way he wants to do Patsy.”
There was a conversation with references to “the cartel” and money and at one point, Browne said: “I’ll get you 15 grand on this.”
Glen Thompson was heard saying: “I’ll give you the Makarov,” while Browne said: “I’ll take the little small one… you take the 38.”
Browne said “what I want is to get into the van ad no-one see us.”
Referring to youths in the area, Browne was also heard saying there could be someone being paid “to watch his back going in.”
On March 10, the three were seen travelling in an Audi into an underground car park at the apartment complex, where it parked up near a falsely registered van.
Browne was driving the Audi, wearing a dark wig, while the other two defendants were passengers.
They all left the Audi and entered the rear of the van.
Gardaí intervened and all three were removed from the van.
Browne had lived in the UK for a time and later served in the British Army between 2007 and 2011, completing tours in Afghanistan and Helmand province.
He had problems with drugs and alcohol.
Glen Thompson, a scaffolder, had struggled after both his father and brother were the victims of separate shootings, his barrister said.
Gary Thompson, also a scaffolder and a father-of-four was particularly close to his mother and felt shame and embarrassment at the trouble he had brought upon her.