Det Supt Gallagher of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau was called by the prosecution to give evidence of the existence and nature of the Hutch Criminal Organisation.
The organisation features “intergenerational familial bonds and close family associations” with positions having “galvanised” since its feud with the rival Kinahans emerged, the Special Criminal Court was told.
Murder accused Gerard “The Monk” Hutch had objected to the evidence being heard, his lawyer saying it would be “tarnish” him and follow him around” regardless of the outcome of the trial.
The three-judge court allowed the prosecution to call Detective Supt David Gallagher as a witness despite the defence objections, saying it was “generalised” information and the evidence was brought not against Hutch but his co-accused.
Gerry Hutch is charged with the murder of David Byrne who was shot dead in a gangland attack at the Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016.
Two other men, Jason Bonney and Paul Murphy are accused of helping the criminal organisation responsible by providing cars used to drive the assailants away after the shooting.
Mr Byrne (33), a Kinahan gang member, was killed when three assault rifle-wielding masked gunmen, disguised as ERU gardai, stormed the Regency in north Dublin along with an armed man dressed as a woman in a blonde wig, and another in a flat cap.
The attack on a boxing weigh-in event happened as a bloody feud raged between the Kinahan and Hutch gangs.
Hutch (59), of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin, Mr Murphy (61) of Cherry Avenue, Swords and Mr Bonney (51) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, deny the charges against them.
Today, Det Supt Gallagher of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau was called by the prosecution to give evidence of the existence and nature of the Hutch Criminal Organisation.
Prosecutor Sean Gillane SC said this was only in relation to the charges against Mr Bonney and Mr Murphy.
Det Supt Gallagher told Mr Gillane he had significant insight into a multitude of criminal organisations in this jurisdiction and outside the jurisdiction, impacting on it.
His work included being part of the senior management team tasked with pro-actively investigating the criminal organisations involved in the feud known as the “Kinahan versus Hutch feud,” he said.
This was predominantly in north inner city Dublin but also outside it and had resulted in a number of murders and a significant number of arrests.
“I can offer my opinion on the criminal organisation known as the Hutch Criminal Organisation,” he said.
Mr Gillane asked him to describe its structure and makeup.
He replied that he had an in-depth insight and knowledge of the structures of a number of criminal organisations and said the Hutch organisation emanated from “intergenerational familial bonds and close family associations”, predominantly from the Dublin city centre area.
The organisation would be less hierarchical than some criminal organisations and operated a “patriarchal system of loyalty based on monetary gain.”
It was a “fluid organisation” with participants and affiliates working together at times to commit crimes; at other times they worked independently or with other criminal organisations.
The rules and procedures were not “set in stone” like in organisations such as the gardai.
Since the emergence of the feud with the Kinahans in 2015, there had been a “galvanisation” of positions within the Hutch organisation, he said.
Earlier, Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr Hutch, said he was objecting to the evidence. He said though it was not admissible against Mr Hutch, he had no concerns that the judges would not take it into account in his case.
His “broader” concern was around Mr Hutch’s presumption of innocence which he was entitled to now as much as when he might walk out of court a free man at the end of the trial, Mr Grehan said.
He said the court should keep this to the front of its mind.
The presumption of innocence should be respected to the greatest possible degree and the evidence sought to be admitted against his co-accused did not respect that presumption, he argued.
The evidence would be said with the authority of a very senior garda officer and would be there “for all time on the public record” as an opinion expressed before a court which “damages Mr Hutch.”
The point had already been made about the fact that the Regency attack was conducted by a highly organised criminal gang, he said. That was a self-evident proposition that the court had already heard.
What should be avoided, he said, was that “Mr Hutch should be tarnished by this very broad brush of evidence of Supt Gallagher that will follow him around regardless of the outcome of this particular trial,” Mr Grehan said.
It was “prejudicial and unfair” to Mr Hutch whose constitutional right to a presumption of innocence could be taken away by the evidence without him being convicted.
“Once this is said in an open court by a senior garda, it’s there to be quoted for all time by whoever; the media or anybody commenting on this particular matter or on Mr Hutch, regardless of the outcome,” Mr Grehan said.
It was prejudicial to Mr Hutch and the prosecution had conceded it was of no probative value against him.
Ms Justice Tara Burns, presiding, said the court would uphold Mr Hutch’s fair trial rights.
“We have to conduct a trial in accordance with the Constitution, you are concerned with the court of public opinion,” she said.
“We can’t police what is said in the media, nor should we,” she said. “You are concerned with what might be said in the future, that it might affect his standing in the community. That is not something the court engages with.”
Mr Grehan said he was concerned the evidence would be said in a form in public that “allows it to be repeated ad nauseam.”
John Fitzgerald SC, for Mr Bonney, and Bernard Condon SC, for Mr Murphy, adopted the submissions.
Mr Gillane said Supt Gallagher was an expert with relevant expertise who could speak to the existence of the organisation. The organisation was named in the statement but none of the accused was named, he said.
After reading the statement, Ms Justice Burns said the judges had no difficulty in allowing the prosecution to lead the evidence, which was “a very generalised” statement
She asked Mr Grehan if he wished to make an application to have it heard in private and he replied that having taken instructions, Mr Hutch’s position was “this trial should resemble a trial in the ordinary criminal courts and he’s previously contended that matters shouldn’t be shrouded in secrecy.”
The trial continues before Ms Justice Burns, Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.