Sunday 15 September 2019

'Why did this have to happen?' - Mother of Gareth Hutch as three found guilty of his murder

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

Eimear Cotter

The mother of Gareth Hutch who was shot to death two years ago has said that she "could not comprehend why this had happened".

Vera Hutch said the pain of Gareth's death was "unbearable" and that she would "never get over it".

Earlier today, Jonathan Keogh (33), his sister Regina Keogh (41) and Thomas Fox (31) were all found guilty before the Special Criminal Court of the murder of Mr Hutch.

Jonathan fired the "fatal shots that killed Mr Hutch in a callous and cold-blooded manner", the court heard, while Regina "colluded" with her brother, and Fox was the proposed getaway driver.

There was a heavy presence from the Garda Public Order Unit for the reading of the verdict today.

At lunch-time, as the trio were brought from the courtroom, Jonathan had shouted "rats" a number of times.

As Mrs Hutch's victim impact statement was read to the court, a number of Keogh supporters laughed and left the court.

Jonathan also shouted: "what about everyone else's family, what about all the other families". He then said "f**kin b*stards" and "rats".

In her victim impact statement, which was read to the court by Detective Garda Eoin Treacy, Vera Hutch said Gareth was a "son, brother, uncle, friend and daddy" and it had been a privilege and honour to know him.

Mrs Hutch said the pain of her son's death was "unbearable", she could not comprehend why it had happened and she would "never get over it".

She said she no longer felt safe.

Mrs Hutch said she would never again see Gareth's smile or his laugh, which was "infectious".

However, she said it was Gareth's son who would lose out the most, as his daddy had been cut out of his life, and Gareth would never get to bring him to his first football game.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the three defendants had all been found guilty of murder and the court had no choice but to impose the mandatory life sentence.

He expressed his condolences to the family, adding that Mr Hutch's murder had been seen and heard on technicolour and it was "hard not to be struck by the depravity of the scene on CCTV".

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

It was the State's case that Keogh was one of the gunmen, together with Mr AB, who is not before the courts.

Regina was "central and fundamental" in the plan to kill Mr Hutch and helped to procure the use of protected witness Mary McDonnell's flat to stake out Mr Hutch's flat.

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

Fox was the proposed getaway driver. He also retrieved the guns the night before the attack and brought them to Mrs McDonnell's flat, the court heard.

In a lengthy judgment which started last Friday and finished this afternoon, Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, with Judge Patricia Ryan and Judge Michael Walsh, said the killing of Mr Hutch was not spontaneous but was "deliberate and callous" and involved "considerable planning and co-ordination".

The court found that the plan to kill Mr Hutch had been in gestation "perhaps as far back as April" when the black BMW, the proposed getaway vehicle, was purchased for cash. It was certainly in place by May 18, when Jonathan acquired a burner phone, the judges found.

Judge Hunt said the court accepted the evidence of protected witness Mary McDonnell identifying Jonathan as one of two men in her flat the morning of the shooting.

The court found that Jonathan was connected to the murder through the mobile phone and CCTV evidence.

Judge Hunt also said Jonathan was connected to a black BMW, the proposed getaway car parked at Avondale House, through CCTV footage and his DNA, which was found on items in the car.

Judge Hunt said the association of Jonathan to the BMW provided "powerful evidence implicating him in the planning of the murder" and corroborated Mrs McDonnell's recognition evidence of him.

Finding him guilty, Judge Hunt said the evidence showed that Jonathan Keogh "had a hand in almost every aspect" of the planning of this "murder enterprise".

This afternoon, Judge Hunt said the court was satisfied that when Regina brought the gloves to Mrs McDonnell's flat the night before the murder she had "specific knowledge that something was afoot in relation to Gareth Hutch".

Regina's behaviour after the murder also showed "her continuing willingness to assist her brother", the court heard.

Finding Regina guilty of murder, Judge Hunt said Regina was guilty due to her "involvement with her brother's affairs".

In relation to Fox, the judges found he was involved in the planning of Mr Hutch's murder but was "very much subordinate" to Jonathan Keogh and "acted under his general influence and direction".

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