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Saturday 17 November 2018

Killer Quinn is jailed for 22 years - and must pay Hutch family €90,000

Dubliner James Quinn in court in Spain. Photo: Solarpix.com
Dubliner James Quinn in court in Spain. Photo: Solarpix.com

Kinahan cartel killer James Quinn, who sparked the deadly Hutch/ Kinahan feud with the murder of Gary Hutch, was jailed for 22 years yesterday and was ordered to pay the Hutch family €90,000 compensation.

Quinn (35), a nephew of veteran criminal Martin 'The Viper' Foley, was warned last Friday after he was convicted by a jury of murdering Hutch that he faced a prison sentence of 28 years - 25 for the murder and three for a gun crime.

However, a Spanish judge yesterday handed him a sentence totalling six years fewer than the punishment state prosecutors demanded after he was found guilty of murder and illegal weapons possession at a court in Malaga.

Gunman

Prosecutor Jose Barba had accused Dubliner Quinn at the start of his trial of being the gunman who shot Hutch in the head after chasing him round the gated estate where he lived, in Miraflores near the Costa del Sol resort of Fuengirola.

However, he later gave the jury the option of convicting him of murder over the killing on September 24, 2015, as only the getaway driver and lookout.

Jurors took that option - ruling Quinn was guilty because he had been a "necessary participant".

Judge Ernesto Carlos Manzano said in a 15-page written document he was sentencing Quinn to 20 years and not more for the murder because, among other things, he had a clean record in Spain and was not the shooter.

He described the murder as "execrable" and said Quinn and the unidentified gunman deserved "deep social reprobation".

However, he added: "Other circumstances need to be taken into account in terms of the crime and the man convicted of it, such as the fact he had no previous convictions in Spain and he has not been convicted as the direct material author of the crime."

He said of the gun conviction, which related to a weapon found in a bedside table during a search of Quinn's home and not the two guns recovered from the getaway BMW used by Hutch's killers: "It is appropriate to impose the minimum two years under Spanish law for the crime.

"That is because of the guilty man's personal circumstances, which are that he had a clean criminal record in Spain, and because the jury in this case has limited the weapons crime exclusively to the gun found in his home with the serial number erased."

The judge also ordered Quinn to pay the court costs and €90,000 compensation to Hutch's relatives.

He said the amount of prison remand time the Irishman served before his conviction - nearly two years since his arrest - should be taken into account in determining how long he spends in prison.

Quinn's defence lawyers are expected to appeal as soon as they have read through the sentencing document and spoken to their client.

Father-of-one Quinn, who grew up in the Oliver Bond flats in Dublin 8, was arrested in September 2016 after undercover police got his DNA from a water bottle he had drunk from in a Madrid train station and discovered it matched the DNA they had from a baseball cap found in the getaway BMW Hutch's killers tried to torch after dumping it near the murder scene.

Five other people were held over the Hutch killing - widely regarded as sparking the ongoing feud between the Kinahan and Hutch gangs, which has claimed up to 18 lives - but only Quinn was charged.

He broke a near two-year silence over the murder to insist at the start of his trial that he was in bed with a post-wedding hangover and a prostitute when Hutch, nephew of Kinahan rival Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, was killed.

It emerged last Friday that the jurors decided prosecutors had not proved Quinn was acting on the orders of gangland bosses - meaning he could not sentenced to life in prison.

During the three-day trial last week, the court heard that cartel boss Daniel Kinahan had ordered the murder of his one-time friend Hutch, but the jury decided that there was not enough evidence to support this.

The court also heard from investigators that when Quinn was arrested, he was carrying a picture of Daniel Kinahan's mother in his wallet and that a car belonging to Kinahan's then girlfriend was used as a lookout vehicle in the murder.

Outlandish

He failed to provide an alibi and the state prosecutor described his claims in court as a "collection of the outlandish", pointing out there were no payslips or known employment to justify his high life of upmarket cars and expensive rental homes.

Mr Barba told jurors before they retired to consider their verdict the baseball cap was crucial.

"I think if James Quinn ever admitted to regretting anything it wouldn't be the murder of Gary Hutch but the fact he didn't destroy the now famous baseball cap which has ended up certifying his involvement in the killing," he said in his closing speech.

Jurors ruled it had been proved Quinn acted as a getaway driver and lookout for a pre-planned murder he was in on - and said his participation had been necessary for the crime to be successfully pulled off.

However, they said they could not conclude he was the man who chased 34-year-old Hutch before shooting him dead because, among other things, his face could not be identified on CCTV cameras showing the crime.

The state prosecutor had offered jurors the possibility of considering Quinn was the getaway driver and not the gunman in a last-minute "option B" indictment he handed them on day three of the trial.

He told the court he was still seeking a murder conviction and the same life sentence for the Irishman as a "necessary participant" in the pre-planned killing - even if jurors could not support his principal argument that he pulled the trigger.

The possibility of a life sentence was cancelled out because jurors rejected prosecution claims Quinn belonged to a criminal organisation blamed for the killing, despite the prosecutor saying it was linked to the ongoing deadly feud.

Jurors also ruled it had not been proved he was paid for the murder.

Quinn's defence lawyer Pedro Apalategui, who called for the minimum 20-year sentence for the murder his client was convicted of, said outside court last week he would "definitely appeal" to a higher court where three judges and not a jury will make the decisions.

"We completely disagree with the verdict and will definitely be appealing once we know the sentence," he said.

Any appeal would be dealt with by a provincial court in Granada.

Mr Apalategui said that he was hopeful it could take place as soon as September.

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