‘Witness’ killer Thomas Hinchon back in court after 19 years in prison
Our exclusive photographs show gangster Hinchon being brought by prison officers to Blanchardstown District Court
These are the exclusive photographs of killer Thomas Hinchon, who has spent the last 19 years in prison for the drive-by murder of a father-of-one outside Cloverhill Prison.
He and violent sidekick Brian Kenny shot Jonathan O’Reilly and then tried to cover up their crime by asking a teenager to hide the gun.
However, Joey ‘The Lips’ O’Callaghan, went instead to gardai and his evidence as a state witness would convict both to life in prison.
Both Hinchon and Kenny have come to the attention of prison authorities a number of times over the years and both have regularly lost their privileges.
This week Hinchon (43) was brought by prison officers to Blanchardstown District Court in Dublin, where he admitted the unlawful possession of a mobile phone in prison.
The court heard he was found with the phone late last year at Wheatfield, although no further details regarding what he was using it for were revealed.
Last year Kenny was moved back into the main prison system after a stint in the open prison Loughan House, where he enjoyed regular day trips home and appeared close to being released on a full-time basis.
Sources say Kenny was gutted that he was nabbed with the drugs so close to the possibility of release, but he has since re-applied for parole despite the slim chances of him regaining trust of the prison service.
Both Hinchon and Kenny are believed to have attempted to keep their drug operations going despite being behind bars.
Hinchon ran a vicious Clondalkin outfit while Kenny was a gangland misfit who initially tried to find a role in Martin ‘Marlo’ Hyland’s gang before falling out with them and linking up with the West Dublin crew.
The details of Kenny’s rise to wealth and his ruthless attitude play out in Joey O’Callaghan’s story.
He has written a best selling book – The Witness – and told his story on an award-winning podcast, The Witness in his Own Words.
O’Callaghan was groomed by Kenny when he took a job on his milk float believing that he was to be collecting money in his spare time.
But the then 12-year-old soon released that he was delivering heroin along with milk and was quickly drawn into his web.
Kenny grew his drug empire despite a conviction when he was caught running the milk float scam.
He received a suspended sentence and got straight back into the game intent on recouping his losses.
He carried out robberies for Hyland and aspired to become part of his gang but was accused of informing to police and hooked up instead with Hinchon.
Back in July 2005, Hinchon and his accomplice Brian Kenny (53), with a previous address at Kilshane Cross in Finglas, received a mandatory life sentence after a jury found them guilty of the drive-by killing of 25-year-old Jonathan O’Reilly on April 17, 2004.
The court was told the dead man was shot outside Cloverhill Prison as he sat in a BMW car.
A motorcycle drew up beside the car and a number of shots were fired through the car glass and struck Mr O’Reilly, fatally injuring him.
At the time of sentencing, Mr Justice Michael Peart said this was “as cold, calculated and premeditated a slaying of a young man as can be imagined”.
The pair also received sentences for threatening to kill the State’s main witness, Joey ‘The Lips’ O’Callaghan, who, at aged 20, became the youngest person to enter into the witness protection programme.
During the trial, the court heard that Joey O’Callaghan was threatened by both of the accused not to open his mouth to anyone or he and members of his family would be killed.
O’Callaghan told how he escaped Kenny’s Kilshane Cross cottage with the help of his sister and went straight to gardai.
He said he then led them to the gun used in the murder and gave other evidence which formed part of the case against the pair.
Last Wednesday, Hinchon was taken by prison officers to Blanchardstown court, where he was charged with possession of a phone in prison.
Defence solicitor Terence Hanahoe said Hinchon was pleading guilty to the charge.
Garda Simon Clarke said Hinchon, with a previous address at St Ronan’s Close in Clondalkin, was caught with a mobile phone without the consent of the governor at Wheatfield Prison on November 26, 2022.
Garda Clarke said Hinchon had a number of previous convictions.
Mr Hanahoe said Hinchon was serving a life sentence. The defendant was now 43, and had spent 19 years in custody, the solicitor said.
The court was told Hinchon had already been punished in the prison, and his privileges had been withdrawn for a period.
Mr Hanahoe said Hinchon did not have a release date.
He also said Hinchon had cooperated with gardai, and had caused “no difficulties whatsoever”.
Judge Ciaran Liddy imposed a two-month sentence.
Prison sources say Kenny has made few friends behind bars despite the length of his sentence.
He is regarded with caution by fellow lags who believe he tries to give information to prison authorities in return for privileges.
He is currently back in Wheatfield prison, where he is trying to befriend Hinchon again.
Kenny has applied for release despite his major cock-up at Loughan House and he will ask the parole board to free him in coming months.
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