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Sunday 22 July 2018

'I don't have stomach or balls to shoot someone', Hutch trial hears

Gardai at the scene of the fatal shooting where Gareth Hutch
Gardai at the scene of the fatal shooting where Gareth Hutch

A Dublin man on trial for the murder of Gareth Hutch told detectives that he would never take sides in the Hutch/Kinahan feud as it's "between two families and has nothing to do with me".

Thomas Fox (31) also told gardai he had tried to distance himself from his co-accused Jonathan Keogh (31), after Mr Keogh told him there was a threat to his life.

Mr Fox said his then heavily pregnant girlfriend had told him he should stay away from Mr Keogh, and he tried to do so but Mr Keogh "kept calling and asking if I wanted to go to the gym".

Mr Fox also told detectives, during interview, that he was "nervous" in Mr Keogh's company, owing to the threat to his life, and he knew Mr Keogh was "mixed up with big people".

Mr Fox, together with Mr Keogh (32) and his sister Regina Keogh (41), have pleaded not guilty before the Special Criminal Court to the murder of Mr Hutch on May 24, 2016.

Hutch (36), a nephew of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, was shot dead outside Avondale House flats on North Cumberland Street.

Pregnant

It is the State's case that Mr Keogh, of Gloucester Place, Dublin 1, threatened to kill Hutch the evening before the shooting.

It is alleged that Mr Fox, of Rutland Court, Dublin 1, and Ms Keogh, of Avondale House, were instrumental in planning the murder, and Mr Keogh and another man were the shooters.

Detective Garda Declan O'Brien, from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that gardai arrested Mr Fox at Mountjoy Garda Station at 7.01pm on May 24, 2016.

Detectives conducted nine interviews with him.

Gareth Hutch
Gareth Hutch

Mr Fox told gardai he was persuaded by his mother and his then girlfriend to hand himself in to gardai so that he could clear his name.

His girlfriend was pregnant at the time, and the couple's first child was due in seven weeks, Mr Fox told gardai.

He also told detectives, during interview, that he would have "too much to lose" by killing anyone.

He said he didn't have the "stomach or the balls" to shoot someone.

Mr Fox said that his father, Michael Taylor, had been killed in 2011. Mr Taylor was "shot in front of me ma", the court heard, and "nothing had been done about it".

However, Mr Fox said he did not "have it in me to retaliate".

He said that if he had the money he would "f**k out of this country", but he couldn't leave his mother behind.

Mr Fox also said his family had lost their "rock" after his father's death, and he "couldn't put another family through that".

He had known Mr Keogh for most of his life but the pair had become more friendly in the previous six months, after Mr Keogh started training him in the gym, he told gardai.

Mr Fox said that if he was in the car with Mr Keogh and he [Mr Keogh] received a phone call he would "get out to have his conversation".

"All I do is train with him and do the sunbeds. I don't do his business with him," Mr Fox told gardai.

Threat

He said Mr Keogh had told him about the threat to his life, and he had tried to ask him about it, but Mr Keogh told him "f**k it, if they're going to get me they're going to get me".

During the seventh garda interview, Mr Fox was asked by detectives if he was on any side in the Hutch/Kinahan feud.

"No, that's not my thing," he said.

Mr Fox said he knew many of the extended Hutch family as they had all grown up in the same area. "I would never take sides in a feud. It's between two families and has nothing to do with me," he said.

He later clarified his position, telling gardai the Hutch family lived near his girlfriend.

"I see them every day, they say hello. I have no reason to fight with that family," he said.

"If anything, the people I see every day I respect. I've no reason to put my girlfriend in danger."

Mr Fox denied that he had been offered money or drugs to get involved in Gareth Hutch's murder, saying he had savings, a baby on the way and would "never raise a baby on blood money".

He told gardai he didn't murder anyone and just wanted to clear his name.

Earlier, Mr Fox told gardai that on the night before the shooting, he had stayed in his aunt's house. He got up the next morning, and took the dogs for a walk.

Mr Fox said that, some time after 10am, he spoke to his girlfriend about a man getting shot.

"Being nosy," he said he cycled down to his girlfriend's home, and they walked over to Avondale House.

Mr Fox said gardai had cordoned off the flats complex, there were lots of reporters and photographers around and the place was "manic".

During the interviews, Mr Fox also told gardai he had talked to Gareth Hutch the day before the shooting.

Mr Fox said he spoke to both Ross and Gareth Hutch in the car park of Avondale House, and Ross told him that he was selling his father's car.

He denied he had a row with Gareth or Ross, telling gardai that he didn't know Gareth that well, but knew "the younger crowd" and had known Ross "all his life".

Mr Fox said he found out Gareth Hutch was living in Avondale House only when he saw him there the day before the shooting.

He later said Mr Keogh had became "paranoid" when he saw a man walking around the car park and talking on his mobile phone.

Both Gareth and Ross Hutch told Mr Keogh this man was selling a car for them.

Gareth Hutch then rang this man and told him to come back to the flats as it had all been a misunderstanding.

Row

Mr Keogh and Gareth Hutch shook hands after this, he said.

Mr Fox remembered the row between Mr Keogh and Hutch only after gardai showed him CCTV footage of the altercation.

He told gardai that he had "a head like a sieve", and said he would have told them about the row if they had shown him the CCTV at the start of the interview process.

Mr Fox also said he and Mr Keogh left Avondale House after the altercation and returned later that night.

Mr Keogh went into his sister Regina's flat. She was in her friend's flat having a cup of tea so Mr Fox said he and Mr Keogh walked upstairs.

He said he didn't go inside that flat, but just stayed on the balcony.

Mr Fox initially told gardai that he had been in Avondale House once or twice on the day before the murder. However, after viewing CCTV, he accepted he was there up to five times.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, with Judge Patricia Ryan and Judge Michael Walsh.

The remainder of Mr Fox's interviews with gardai will be heard today.

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