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Documentary on how gang stole £3m from under noses of gardaí

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Gerry Hutch

Gerry Hutch

The Brinks Allied building from which millions were stolen in the armed raid

The Brinks Allied building from which millions were stolen in the armed raid

The Brinks Allied building from which millions were stolen in the armed raid

The Brinks Allied building from which millions were stolen in the armed raid

 Former Justice Minister Nora Owen

 Former Justice Minister Nora Owen

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Gerry Hutch

FORMER Justice Minister Nora Owen still believes Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch may one day face justice over his the Brinks Allied robbery which netted his gang over IR£3 million in what was then Ireland's biggest ever robbery.

And the Detective Garda Inspector who arrested Hutch in the wake of the audacious raid in Dublin in January 1995 claims that when he questioned him he believed he was in the "presence of evil".

Former Det Inspector Brian Sherry, who arrested Hutch at his home in Clontarf in connection with the raid, also believes there's a strong possibility The Monk's gang were behind shooting and injuring journalist Veronica Guerin.

Veronica, who was later murdered in June 1996, was injured just hours after exposing The Monk in the Sunday Independent as the person behind the Brinks raid.

Murdered

The Monk is currently in hiding abroad as he is the target of the Kinahan mob after the equally spectacular raid on Dublin's Regency hotel four years ago, which resulted in gangster David Byrne being slain in a hail of bullets and flared up a feud which has seen 18 men murdered.

The 25th anniversary of Brinks Allied raid in January 1995 is the focus of RTÉ documentary series Scannal.

The raid was The Monk's second- biggest robbery, having snared over IR£1.7 million when his gang held up a cash-in-transit van at Marino mart in 1987.

An armed five-man gang burst into the Brinks depot in north Dublin and netted over IR£3 million.

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The Brinks Allied building from which millions were stolen in the armed raid

The Brinks Allied building from which millions were stolen in the armed raid

The Brinks Allied building from which millions were stolen in the armed raid

"I got a phone call here in Santry Garda station the next morning," recalls Mr Sherry. "All the detectives in the northern division at the time were called in for a major conference in relation to it."

The robbery caused problems with then-Justice Minister Nora Owen as it emerged from an internal Garda memo leaked in the Irish Independent that the depot and the gang may have been under surveillance in the weeks prior to the robbery.

"The Brinks Allied robbery happened just almost to the day of my first month in office," recalls Mrs Owen. "Mary Harney got that information obviously from a guard and said it to John Bruton (then Taoiseach) in the Dáil and John Bruton said 'look stop scaremongering', it was kind of the words he used.

"The minute the Dáil rose I called the commissioner back in and said 'tell me what Mary Harney was talking about?'

"I was cross. I was angry. I thought I should have been told about that. Better to know about it in case it came up. Lets face it, there are always leaks."

Brian Sherry admits that gardaí were monitoring The Monk's gang at the time.

"From my knowledge, I would be satisfied, yes definitely, that the gang that was under surveillance was the gang that carried out the robbery," he notes.

The Sunday Independent carried a report days after the robbery that The Monk was prime suspect and published a drawing of his image in a report by Veronica Guerin, who odescribed him in her article as "not at all warm, not at all endearing in any way, man of very words, he's just a very cold-looking individual."

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The Brinks Allied building from which millions were stolen in the armed raid

The Brinks Allied building from which millions were stolen in the armed raid

The Brinks Allied building from which millions were stolen in the armed raid

Within hours, Veronica was shot at her home by a gunman, who initially aimed at her head and then lowered his gun to blast her in her leg.

"Some of the people that she was dealing with were very serious criminals and when you're dealing with people like that you can't trust them," observes Mr Sherry. "If you say something awkward about them you could find yourself in a lot of problems."

Custody

The Monk was brought in for questioning over the robbery.

"Overall, I found him to be an affable sort of individual, but when you went deep into questioning in relation to the robbery, you'd see him switching... I knew I was in what I would describe was the presence of evil."

But there was not enough evidence against Hutch, with his gang leaving no forensic trail.

Legal proceedings were eventually taken against The Monk by CAB, who got a judgement for over IR£2 million against him and which he had to pay

Nora Owen is still hopeful Hutch will one day be convicted of the raid.

"There is somebody alive who knows a bit more about that robbery and maybe somebody on their death bed might share some information, so maybe another time we can come back to the story," she muses.

Scannal is on RTE One on Tuesday, at 7pm

Irish Independent