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Murder-plot Kinahan 'foot soldier' is cleared of knuckleduster rap

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Michael Burns (43) had his case dismissed

Michael Burns (43) had his case dismissed

Michael Burns (43) had his case dismissed

A Kinahan cartel "footsoldier" who took part in a plot to kill a member of the Hutch family has been acquitted of an unrelated charge of carrying a knuckleduster as a weapon.

Michael Burns (43), who is serving nine years for his role in the failed 2018 plan to kill Patsy Hutch, had been accused of having the knuckleduster with intent to injure or intimidate.

But Judge Michael Walsh dismissed the case at Dublin District Court.

Burns, with an address at Round Gardens, Garter Lane, Saggart, had pleaded not guilty to possession of the plastic knuckleduster as a weapon on November 26 last year.

The case was heard previously at the non-jury court and when it came back before Judge Walsh he ruled that the initial Garda search of Burns's car was unlawful.

Suspicious

The court had heard how gardaí saw three males get out of a Vauxhall Insignia and walk in the direction of a Dublin courthouse.

A garda noticed the tax had expired and seized the vehicle. Two of the males returned and one, a juvenile teenager, told him the vehicle was the accused's.

This teen refused to co-operate further and due to this suspicious activity gardaí decided to search the car, the court heard.

Burns returned and told the gardaí the car was his, the court heard. Gardaí found a black plastic knuckleduster in the back of the front passenger seat.

When asked the reason for having it, he "claimed the knuckleduster was a child's toy," Garda Cian O Longaigh said. "I did not believe it could be a child's toy," the garda said. "I feel the best way to describe it was as a weapon."

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Patsy Hutch was the intended target of a 2019 murder attempt

Patsy Hutch was the intended target of a 2019 murder attempt

Patsy Hutch was the intended target of a 2019 murder attempt

John Griffin, defending, argued the search of the car was unlawful as there was no evidence the gardaí had a reasonable suspicion of the commission of a drugs offence.

The accused made no admissions as to owning the knuckle- duster. Judge Walsh agreed and dismissed the case.

In a separate case Burns was jailed at the Special Criminal Court last month for his part in the plot to kill Patsy Hutch, the older brother of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, in the north inner city in 2018.

His co-accused, Stephen Curtis (32) and Ciaran O'Driscoll (25), were each sentenced to five years in prison.

Burns, O'Driscoll and Curtis admitted to having knowledge of the existence of a criminal organisation and participating in activities to facilitate the planned murder of Patsy Hutch within the State between February 1 and March 10 that year.

Burns was a supervisor of the sub-cell who organised logistics, as well as passing on the instructions for the murder from those higher up in the gang, the court heard.

Sentencing in that case, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the Kinahan Cartel was a cynical criminal organisation that recruited "dispensable footsoldiers".

Another four men have also been jailed for their part in the plot.