Sunday 22 July 2018

Mother (21) caught in station gun bust is partner of jailed Hutch gangster

Nikita Murtagh (also pictured inset) covers up as she leaves the Court of Criminal Justice.
Nikita Murtagh (also pictured inset) covers up as she leaves the Court of Criminal Justice.

Ken Foy

A young Dublin mother who walked free from court yesterday in relation to a feud-related gun charge is closely linked to two senior members of the Hutch gang whose lives are under threat from the Kinahan cartel.

Nikita Murtagh (21) is the long- term partner of criminal Nathan Coakley Hutch and is also closely associated with another gang member who is currently in custody awaiting trial in relation to an armed robbery.

Both men have been blamed by the Kinahan cartel for involvement in the Regency Hotel bloodbath, which sparked a feud that has claimed 15 lives.

However, neither has been arrested by gardai investigating the February 2016 murder of David Byrne at the hotel.

There are now fears that the mother-of-one may be targeted by the Kinahans.

Murtagh has previously received detailed security advice from gardai, but there are no new plans to issue her with a formal warning of a threat against her life.

"She has received previous advice, there is no need to go over all that again just because she has been released," a senior source said last night.

While in custody in the Dochas Centre for exactly seven months, it emerged that Murtagh was being held in "special confinement" for 22 hours a day for her own safety because of her links to the feud.

She cried as she told a previous court hearing that she was let out at 10.50am and at 6pm, and "it's lights out at 11.15pm".

Yesterday, at the Special Criminal Court, Murtagh, who the court heard was acting out of a "misplaced sense of family loyalty" when she handed a shoebox containing a loaded gun to a man about to board the Dublin to Belfast train, was sentenced to three years in jail.

The sentence was back-dated to last July 19, when she first entered custody, with the balance suspended.

Murtagh, of Sheriff Street, Dublin 1, had pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of a CZ model 70 semi-automatic pistol at Connolly Station.

During her sentence hearing, Det Insp Noel Browne said that during a surveillance operation, gardai observed Murtagh enter the train station shortly before 3.15pm.

She was seen heading towards the waiting area for the Dublin to Belfast train, which was due to leave at 3.30pm, the court heard.

She was pushing a three-year-old child in a buggy when she met her co-accused, Ciaran Ryan, and handed him a paper bag before leaving the station.

The court heard that Ryan boarded the train but was stopped by gardai and tried to kick the bag away.

When gardai searched the bag, they found it contained a shoebox with a loaded gun inside.

Last month, Ryan (24), of Summerhill, Dublin 1, was jailed for three years for possession of the firearm.

He is suspected of having been on his way to deliver the firearm to senior Hutch mob associates in Northern Ireland, who include James 'Mago' Gately, when he was busted by gardai.

One theory that was investigated is that the weapon was to be used in a planned hit on Kinahan cartel figure Gareth Chubb (29), from Drimnagh, who was based in Belfast at the time.

While Murtagh had no previous convictions before yesterday, she is closely associated with some of the most dangerous members of the Hutch mob.

One of these is a 33-year-old career criminal who cannot be named for legal reasons but was the intended target of a botched cartel attack.

Meanwhile, Det Insp Browne said her actions were "probably the result of a misplaced sense of family loyalty" and that she had family members connected to violence of an extreme nature in recent years.

Under cross-examination, Det Insp Browne said Murtagh was a courier, chosen for the role because she was not a criminal but was "naive" and a "fresh face" who had not previously come to garda attention.

The inspector said that one of the "unfortunate aspects" of investigating people such as the accused was that they are used by more devious people to effect actions of certain groups.

Murtagh is in a long-term relationship with Nathan Coakley Hutch.

Last month, Coakley Hutch's older brother, Derek (27), became the 14th victim of the bitter feud when he was blasted to death outside Wheatfield Prison after a planned drugs drop turned into chaos at the west Dublin jail shortly after he visited Nathan.

Gardai are still investigating whether two notorious Coolock brothers, along with one of the capital's most depraved hitmen, were behind the feud murder after being enlisted by the Kinahan cartel.

Nathan (24) is understood to have "gone mental" following the execution of his brother, who was blasted several times in the head and body.

Nicknamed 'Harry', Nathan is considered to be one of the most dangerous armed robbers in the capital.

Last year he was extradited from the UK to face a number of charges in Ireland related to driving a stolen vehicle and armed robbery.

The sentence means that his violent spree has been halted for now, while he has been placed on a secure landing with his associates in Wheatfield prison.

Coakley Hutch, a nephew of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, was placed on the protection landing with his associates due to an ongoing threat from the Kinahans.


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