Watch: Paul Williams documentary - why 'the Monk' was never a saint
Tracing the criminal career of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch who went from stealing cash from cars and banks, to running a limo business
The criminal mastermind Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch has been a well-known figure in Dublin’s underworld for more than two decades.
He is now the focus of attention since his return to Dublin from Spain for the funeral of his murdered innocent brother Eddie, shot last Monday in a gangland retaliation attack for the murder of David Byrne.
Hutch’s presence in the city at a time when armed gardai patrol the streets shows how crime links different generations.
While gardai are satisifed he was the mastermind of two of the biggest cash heists in Irish history, he never admitted carrying out the raids.
In later years, he insisted he had given up all his criminal activities – but admitted he was heavily involved in crime in his younger years.
Born in 1963, one of the youngest of an impoverished family of eight children, his first home was a run-down block of flats at Corporation Buildings in the deprived north inner city. His father ‘Masher’ Hutch was a docks labourer on the Dublin docks, while his mother Julia looked after their large brood.
The family moved to Summerhill in 1971. The future crime boss became involved in a succession of thefts and street crimes. Although highly intelligent, his education was neglected and he spent his time hanging around with fellow teenage tearaways.
According to leading crime journalist Paul Williams – who chronicled Hutch’s criminal career in his book The Untouchables – he notched up more than 30 convictions as a teenager for burglary, assault, larceny, car theft, joy riding and malicious damage.
He was a leading member of a notorious teenage gang called the Bugsy Malones, who graduated to more daring and dangerous crimes of robbing banks by jumping over the counters and threatening staff with guns.
This gang developed such a reputation that Hutch was interviewed by RTE radio at the age of 16. He said: “I can’t give up robbing. If I see money in a car I’m takin’ it. I just can’t leave it there. If I see a handbag on a seat I’ll smash the window and be away before anyone knows what’s going on.
“I don’t go near people walking down the street ... they’re not worth robbin.”
When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said with a giggle “I’d like to be serving behind the bank ... just fill up the bags and jump over the counter.”
He was sentenced to detention 11 times and served his sentences in industrial schools, later graduating to Mountjoy Prison.
Speaking of his younger days to Sunday Independent crime journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996, less than three months before she was shot dead, he said: “We were kids then, doing jump-overs (jumping over counters in banks to steal cash), shoplifting, robberies, burglaries, anything that was going we did it. That was normal for any inner-city kid then.”
Aged 20, Hutch was jailed for two years for malicious damage. It was to be the last time he was jailed.
The deaths of four members of his old Bugsy Malone gang from drug addiction and drug deaths of several young cousins made him detest and avoid hard drugs use.
Unusually for his background, he was a non-drinker and non-smoker. He hated drug use and the devastation it was causing to the people with whom he grew up. His sober behaviour later earned him the nickname ‘The Monk.’
Now aged 52, he was only 23 when he was reputed by gardai to have masterminded a record-breaking cash robbery.
On a dark evening in January 1987, Hutch led a four-man gang in the robbery of a Securicor van outside the Bank of Ireland at Marino Mart in Fairview in Dublin.
They brandished guns and ejected two security van staff from the front of the van and drove it away. The gang discovered a third security guard in the vault of the van up the road and stopped and ejected him too.
They drove into the grounds of Colaiste Mhuire, off Griffith Avenue, and quickly cleaned out a large quantity of cash. They were astounded to discover they had netted more than £1,350,000 (€1,723,000).
The young crime boss was given advice about how to stash the money in bank accounts in the north of Ireland.
He recruited two men with no criminal records, Francis Joseph Sheridan and Lonan Patrick Hickey, to travel across the border and lodge large amounts of the haul in accounts in financial institutions.
The two bagmen admitted to gardai they were working for Hutch and were later jailed for 21 months. Hutch was never charged and was referred to as “Mr X” in the court case.
When Securicor went to court in Belfast to get the money from Hutch’s bank accounts returned to the firm, Hutch attended the court hearings to claim it was his own money.
But the judge ruled the money was in all probability the proceeds of the Fairview van heist and ordered its return to Securicor. The Monk appealed the decision as far as the
House of Lords, but was unsuccessful.
Hutch began to use a businessman and property developer Paddy Shanahan, a convicted thief, to launder the proceeds of his crimes by investing in building projects.
Using his friend Shanahan as a front, Hutch invested in the construction of new apartments in the north inner city and availed of tax incentives while doing so.
In January 1995, Hutch is reputed to have carried out the biggest cash heist in the history of the State when he masterminded the robbery of almost £3m (€3.8m) from the Brink’s Allied security company depot at the Clonshaugh Industrial estate.
The heist involved meticulous planning and the use of heavily-armed robbers and four stolen SUVs.
The gang’s preparation included weakening security fencing in the days before the robbery and building a bridge over a dyke to facilitate the military-style raid. No one was convicted with the crime.
The murder of crime reporter Veronica Guerin in 1996 by a gang led by John Gilligan resulted in the setting up of
the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).
CAB made Hutch their number one target with Operation Alpha. He eventually agreed to hand over the equivalent of more than €1.5m to become tax compliant.
He sold two houses in Buckingham Street and gave a bank draft to CAB. He paid the balance by walking into a bank in Dublin with a hold-all containing the equivalent of €635,000 in cash, which he lodged and then handed over a bank draft to gardai.
He later got a taxi licence and named his limousine business CAB – Carry Any Body.