Prosecution closes its case in Gareth Hutch murder trial; mobile phone records ruled admissible

Gareth Hutch

By Alison O'Riordan

The prosecution in the Special Criminal Court trial of three Dubliners accused of murdering Gareth Hutch has closed its case today.

The three-judge court has also ruled that mobile phone records are admissible as evidence in the trial.

Mr Hutch (36), nephew of Gerry "the monk" Hutch was shot dead as he was getting into his car outside Avondale House flats on North Cumberland Street in Dublin on the morning of May 24, 2016. He died as a result of four gunshot injuries.

The prosecution contend that Jonathan Keogh (32) threatened to kill Mr Hutch the evening before the shooting, that Thomas Fox (31) and Regina Keogh (41) were instrumental in planning the murder, and Mr Keogh and another man, Mr AB, were the shooters.

Mr Fox with an address at Rutland Court, Dublin 1, Ms Keogh from Avondale House, Cumberland Street North, Dublin 1 and Mr Keogh of Gloucester Place, Dublin 1, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Hutch.

Mr Fox has also denied unlawfully possessing a Makarov 9 mm handgun on May 23, 2016 at the same place.

Prosecution counsel Paul Burns SC told Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Patricia Ryan and Judge Michael Walsh that the prosecution had concluded giving evidence.

Defence barristers for each of the accused said they had no applications to make to the non-jury court.

Earlier, the court ruled that mobile phone records were admissible as evidence in the trial. Mr Justice Hunt said the court did not have “anything reduced to writing” today but it was his intention to provide reasons for their finding later in the week.

Last week the court embarked on a “voir dire” or trial within a trial relating to the mobile phone evidence.

The State sought to admit mobile phone records associated with the three accused, as well as a "Mr AB", who is not before the courts. It is part of the State’s case that phones identified by gardaí in their investigation can be shown to have "pinged" off phone masts at relevant times and in relevant locations.

Defence lawyers argued that mobile phone evidence should not be admissible in the trial as it breached their individual right to privacy. They said that the retention of mobile phone data and unrestricted access to it by gardaí was in contravention of EU law.

However, prosecution counsel Mr Burns said privacy was not an absolute right and no breach of privacy arose in this matter.

The court heard that gardaí made 38 requests for mobile phone records as part of their investigation into the killing.

At the opening of the trial eight weeks ago, the prosecution told the court that the killing of Mr Hutch was not a spontaneous or spur of the moment act but a “brutal and callous murder”. “It was premeditated and a significant amount of planning had gone into it,” counsel said.

The prosecution say the three co-accused each had their own part to play in bringing about the death of Mr Hutch.

During the trial, the court heard evidence from a protected witness, Mary McDonnell, who identified Mr Keogh from CCTV footage as one of the gunmen who carried out the attack on Mr Hutch. She also identified Mr Fox and Mr Keogh as the men who came into her flat the night before with two guns.

Mrs McDonnell, who is the key prosecution witness in the trial, was originally charged with withholding information but that charge was dropped and she has been given immunity from prosecution.

The prosecution contend that witness Mrs McDonnell was encouraged by her “best friend” and neighbour Regina Keogh to allow Jonathan Keogh use her flat “as a base” to wait for Mr Hutch prior to the attack.

The trial will resume on Wednesday when lawyers for the prosecution and defence are expected to make closing speeches.

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