Kinahans wanted to be Europe’s biggest gang

Gerard Hutch said in March 2016 that the Kinahan organized crime group wanted to be the biggest gang in Europe with the Colombians and everyone else coming to him, the Special Criminal Court heard today.

Mr Hutch was speaking to the former Sinn Féin councilor Jonathan Dowdall as they were driving back from Northern Ireland following a meeting with members of the Continuity IRA.

The men’s conversations were secretly recorded on a garda bugging device in the vehicle.

Mr Hutch, 59, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Kinahan gangster David Byrne at the Regency Hotel on 5 February 2016.

For a third consecutive day, secret garda recordings of the conversation between Mr Hutch and Dowdall were played in the Special Criminal Court.

They were driving back from Northern Ireland on 7 March 2016, a month after the murder of Mr Byrne after the Continuity IRA had agreed to mediate in the ongoing Hutch-Kinahan feud and guaranteed the safety of Mr Hutch and his family.

Mr Hutch said he thought that Daniel Kinahan would meet the dissident republicans in London.

Recorded conversations involving Jonathan Dowdall were gathered by gardaí

Mr Hutch said Mr Kinahan was “wide enough, a bit of a twist”.

He said Mr Kinahan, his father and his brother used the rest of the gang members and started making money.

However, he said it was not just about the money for the Kinahans, it was about the power as well.

“They want to be the biggest gang in Europe,” he told the former Sinn Féin councillor, with “all the Colombians and all, everyone coming to them”.

Mr Hutch also said the funeral of Mr Byrne, which was attended by Daniel Kinahan, Freddie Thompson, Declan Brady and other leaders and senior gang figures, “shows what they really are”.

Dowdall said that a lot of people have already “walked away” from the Kinahans and that “if I was in that game I wouldn’t have anything to do with them”.

“I wouldn’t want anything to do with them,” Mr Hutch replied.

“Yeah, ye’d get f***ing nicked,” Dowdall said.

Mr Hutch also expressed concern about any proposed meeting.

“You wouldn’t know with them, you know,” he said, apparently referring to the dissident republicans, “they could be playing both sides of the coin”.

“They’re gonna put this to bed on both sides,” Dowdall said.

“Well they have to be careful,” Mr Hutch said.

“Get that outta your head,” Dowdall told him, “they wouldn’t do that, not a chance.”

The Special Criminal Court also heard that gardaí have recorded over 400 hours of conversations from Dowdall’s SUV, most of which is not relevant to the prosecution.

Detective Garda Janice Byrne testified that she was given five audio recordings from February and March of 2016, of Dowdall in conversation with a number of people, including Patsy Hutch senior, Mr Hutch’s brother.

Mr Hutch’s defense counsel is challenging the admissibility of the evidence gathered from the recordings.

The playing in court of the recordings has now concluded.

The court was told that 420 hours were recorded but over the past three days the three judges listened to ten hours of conversations between Dowdall and Mr Hutch from 7 March 2016.

Senior Counsel Brendan Grehan submitted this afternoon that the authorization for the bug was unlawfully issued, the use of the bug was illegal, the material gathered from it is inadmissible and Mr Hutch’s constitutional right to privacy was breached.

He also said the recordings made in Northern Ireland cannot be used in the trial.

“The use of the bug outside the State is not permitted by the act,” he said.

“No judge would countenance it and the fruits of the poison tree doctrine does not permit that to happen.”

The application is being opposed by the State.

The three judges will hear further submissions tomorrow before deciding whether or not what the two men said can be used as evidence in the case.

Mr Hutch denies a charge of murdering Mr Byrne. The trial continues.

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