The Special Criminal Court has heard a recording of Regency Hotel murder accused Gerard Hutch telling ex-Sinn Féin councilor Jonathan Dowdall, in 2016, that the Kinahan cartel wants “to be the biggest gang in Europe”.
The court also heard that Mr Hutch agreed with Dowdall when asked if he would be happy “with just a few quid under the radar”, with the accused adding that he doesn’t want “hundreds of millions”.
In conversations captured by a garda bugging device when Dowdall and Mr Hutch allegedly traveled back from the North after meeting republicans, Dowdall said: “It seems to me that they’re just blinded by greed and they’re willing to overlook everything for money” .
Mr Hutch replied: “It’s a bit of power as well, not just the money, it’s just the bleedin’ power as well”.
Dowdall said: “With the Kinahans, it’s power, yeah”, and the accused said: “They want to be the biggest gang in Europe, the Columbians and everyone comes to them”.
At the non-jury court on Thursday, the final 45 minutes were played of a 10-hour audio recording of conversations between Mr Hutch and Dowdall. The State’s case is that the men were recorded by a garda bugging device on March 7th, 2016, while allegedly driving back in Dowdall’s Toyota Land Cruiser jeep from a meeting in Strabane, Co Tyrone.
The court also heard a “thumbnail sketch” of legal arguments that will be made on Friday by Brendan Grehan SC for Mr Hutch. Defense counsel said that the State was “acting illegally” when they continued to use the bugging device after it had traveled to Northern Ireland. He said: “The State cannot be allowed to benefit from its own illegality and the fruits of that harvest should not be admitted into the trial.”
The court has already heard audio where Mr Hutch said he wanted to meet the Kinahans to arrange a ceasefire and have mediation in an ongoing murderous feud, which had by then killed his brother Eddie ‘Neddy’ Hutch. Mr Hutch previously said he wanted to put the feud “to bed” and that this was the best option to avoid “war” with the rival gang, as otherwise there would be “casualties on both sides”.
Eddie ‘Neddy’ Hutch was shot dead at his north-inner city home on February 8th 2016, in what was believed to be a revenge attack for the Regency Hotel shooting three days earlier.
The audio recording heard on Thursday, which concluded three days of evidence, recommenced at 11.25pm on March 7th, 2016.
Referring to the Kinahans, Dowdall asked Mr Hutch: “How did they get so strong or so big when they were two brothers and a father, and the two brothers weren’t f****n’ criminals like the rest of the young fellas that came up?”
Mr Hutch replied: “They used the rest of the young fellas, Daniel was a wide enough twist.”
“Everyone was full of promises and stuff like that, ya know, and they made a few quid but they started makin’ big money about two years ago”.
In another clip, the court heard Dowdall laughing as he said: “All the garda seem to want outta this is their bleedin’ submachine guns back”.
Mr Hutch said: “Them submachine guns, them Uzis and all that they’re all lethal. They’re no good”, to which Dowdall replied: “They’re not worth ab****x”.
Transcripts of the recordings, which are being relied on by the prosecution, were displayed on several screens in the courtroom and have been described as “part of the core” of the State’s case in the trial of Mr Hutch (59), last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, who denies the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5th, 2016.
Last week the three judges ruled that they would listen to the 10 hours of conversations between Mr Hutch and Dowdall that were captured by gardaí, despite having heard that Dowdall’s bugged jeep had been outside of the State during the majority of the recordings.
Outlining his objections to the use of the recordings, Mr Grehan said that the “bug” deployed by gardaí recorded about 10 hours of conversation but for almost eight of those hours, from 3.10pm to 10.50pm, the Land Cruiser was in Northern Ireland. He said the Criminal Surveillance Act 2009 is “as clear as can be” that authorization for a surveillance device can only apply within the State.
He said gardaí from the Crime and Security section and the National Surveillance Unit who gave evidence during the trial had taken care to say that they do not conduct surveillance outside the State because they know that the Act does not permit them to do so.
“But that is exactly what the court is being asked to allow to be introduced into this case,” he said. “It’s the fruits of surveillance taken outside the State. The circumstances in which surveillance can be used are strictly delineated by the terms of the Act, but here the evidence clearly suggests that the bug in this case gathered surveillance while on a vehicle outside the State.”
He said that gardaí using the tracking device and bug “knew this was likely to happen” and knew as soon as the Land Cruiser crossed the border because the tracker was giving them real-time information.
Counsel described as “ridiculous” any suggestion that the evidence relating to the Land Cruiser had “fallen into the lap of gardaí” or that it occurred through happenstance. Mr. Grehan also told the court that he intends to object to how the authorization for the tracking device was issued.
He said that if the defense is successful, the court should find that the authorization was issued unlawfully and “therefore no reliance can be placed on it and no evidence gathered on foot of it should be admitted in the trial”.
He will also say that the use of the surveillance device was a breach of the accused’s “well-established constitutional right to privacy”.
Mr Grehan will continue his submissions on Friday before Ms Justice Tara Burns, Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.