Thursday 5 December 2019

Brazen murder amid Hutch trial

Justice Minister outrage at 'contempt for law and order'

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Mark Condren
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Mark Condren

Jerome Reilly, Jody Corcoran, Wayne O'Connor and Robin Schiller

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has described the latest gangland murder - as the Regency Hotel murder trial continues at the Special Criminal Court - as "a total disregard and contempt for law and order".

An outraged Mr Flanagan last night told the Sunday Independent that the perpetrators of the 14th murder in the Kinahan/Hutch feud would be "tracked down".

A member of the Hutch family was yesterday shot dead in broad daylight not far from Wheatfield Prison in a re-escalation of the gang war.

The brazen attack was carried out as a murder trial involving another member of the Hutch family enters its third week.

Mr Flanagan said: "The gardai have had much success from intensive and round-the- clock police work. I urge anybody with any information, however trivial it may seem, to contact gardai. The gardai will continue relentlessly to put these ruthless lawbreakers out of business."

A gangland 'hit' in the midst of a State murder trial represents a deeply alarming development.

Gunned down in broad daylight: A garda forensic tent is placed over the body of the latest gangland victim who was shot dead sitting in a car at Bridgeview Halting site, Wheatfield. Photo: Tony Gavin
Gunned down in broad daylight: A garda forensic tent is placed over the body of the latest gangland victim who was shot dead sitting in a car at Bridgeview Halting site, Wheatfield. Photo: Tony Gavin

The dead man, the first feud victim of 2018, is believed to be Derek Coakley Hutch, the 27-year-old nephew of alleged gang leader Gerry 'the Monk' Hutch.

Coakley Hutch, originally from Buckingham Street in Dublin's north inner city, was gunned down shortly after 3pm as he sat in a vehicle at the Bridgeview halting site on Cloverhill Road, Clondalkin.

Two Coakley Hutch associates -including a relative recently released from prison - were nearby at the time of the incident.

When they heard gunshots they rushed back to the car to find the victim with serious wounds.

The burned out shell of the VW Golf believed to have been used by the killers. Pic: Mark Condren
The burned out shell of the VW Golf believed to have been used by the killers. Pic: Mark Condren

It is understood that he was struck several times in the head and body.

Emergency services were alerted and rushed to the scene, but Coakley Hutch was pronounced dead a short time later. The area has been sealed off pending further forensic tests.

A black 05-D Volkswagen Golf was discovered burnt out on a nearby industrial estate shortly after the shooting, and gardai believe that this vehicle was used in the killing.

It is understood that a training shoe which may have come from one of the hit team was left at the scene.

It will now be forensically examined in an attempt to establish the identity of those involved.

The victim was in a white hatchback car when he was shot in the head and body.

What will concern gardai and the Government is that the murder came in the middle of the high-profile trial of Patrick Hutch (25), of Champions Avenue, Dublin 1.

He is pleading not guilty to the murder of Kinahan gang associate David Byrne (34) at the Regency Hotel in Dublin on February 5, 2016.

Coakley Hutch was known to gardai and had a number of previous convictions.

He had drugs problems in the past, according to court testimony, but was not considered a major gangland figure by detectives.

His 'crime' may have been simply that he was a member of the extended Hutch family.

Last year Coakley Hutch received a suspended sentence after being convicted of an armed robbery with a replica firearm.

He had nine minor previous convictions before that offence but gardai do not suspect that he played any major role in the Kinahan/Hutch feud.

While the investigation is in the early stages, garda sources believe the victim was a target after a recent firearm seizure which has been linked to a close male associate of Coakley Hutch aged in his 20s.

"Derek Coakley Hutch wasn't centrally involved in any of the incidents linked to the feud, but he was very close to some of the main players," a source said.

"A recent firearm seizure was being linked to a male associate of Coakley Hutch, and this will have to be looked at as a possible motive for yesterday's murder."

The decision by Garda management to cut the over-time of armed anti-gangland units in recent weeks was also strongly criticised in garda circles last night.

The overtime for gardai in the Armed Support Unit - launched in 2016 in response to the feud - was reduced in recent weeks and has led to a depletion in the number of firearms officers on the capital's streets.

"The ASU overtime was cut, like several other garda units and divisions, which was a ridiculous decision given that this feud is still very active," a source said.

"There are up to 70 new gardai set to join the ASU in April, but that is no good when people are getting shot dead now."

The probe into yesterday's murder is being led by senior detectives at Ronanstown garda station who are also investigating the feud murder of Noel 'Duck Egg' Kirwan (62) in December 2016.

So far 12 murders have been carried out by the Kinahan cartel as part of the feud, with the victims including four Hutch family members.

One of them was Coakley Hutch's cousin Gary Hutch (33), who was shot dead in Spain in September 2015 - the first murder carried out as part of the deadly dispute.

Eddie Hutch (58) was shot dead on Poplar Row on February 8, 2016, while Gareth Hutch (35) was gunned down at Avondale House, North Cumberland Street, in May of that year.

The proximity of yesterday's shooting to Wheatfield Prison may be significant, detectives believe.

The victim's brother Nathan Coakley (25) is imprisoned at the jail in Clondalkin along with a number of other members of the extended Hutch clan.

Gardai were last night examining the possibility that Coakley Hutch and his associates were planning to visit his brother in prison or were on some other business near the jail and that his location became known to gangland assassins.

Nathan Coakley, who already had 82 previous convictions, last year received a partially-suspended prison sentence of five years for his role in an armed robbery.

The court was told that he was armed with a kitchen knife during the hold-up of a Spar shop.

His accomplice had an imitation firearm and attacked a member of staff when he was unable to open up a time-locked safe.

Coakley, of Buckingham Street Upper, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to having a knife at the time of the robbery at Long Brook Quay, Dublin, on December 10, 2015.

The father of yesterday's murder victim was Derek Hutch Snr, a brother of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch who took his own life nine years ago.

Hutch Snr (44) died at the Mater Hospital on February 23, 2009, two days after he was admitted with self-inflicted cuts on his arms and ankle, believed to have been caused by a knife.

Sunday Independent

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