herald

Tuesday 13 November 2018

'We can only expect more carnage on our streets if cuts continue', says GRA

A garda at the Bridgeview halting site where Derek Coakley Hutch was shot dead. Photo: RollingNews.ie
A garda at the Bridgeview halting site where Derek Coakley Hutch was shot dead. Photo: RollingNews.ie

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has hit out at recent cutbacks on armed garda support in the city in the aftermath of the latest gangland murder, insisting that "gang chaos reigns".

The decision by management to cut the overtime of armed anti-gangland units in recent weeks was heavily criticised in garda circles.

"The ASU [Armed Support Unit] overtime was cut, which was a ridiculous decision given that this feud is still very active," said one garda source.

In a statement to the Herald last night, GRA spokesperson John O'Keeffe said Saturday's killing of Derek Coakley Hutch shows the Hutch and Kinahan gangs "have not gone away".

Murderous

"As the GRA has advised during January, cuts to numbers of armed patrols in Dublin is a very serious matter for those who want our capital free of the murderous drug gangs who have brought such misery on their communities and beyond," Mr O'Keeffe said.

"They are a clear and present danger to everyone who comes into their path, as are other equally pathological spin-off crime gangs in the capital."

He said that the men and women of the ASU, along with the Special Detective Unit and frontline gardai, "have been keeping drug gangs' murderous activities at bay over the last year, with notable success".

However, he said that without the necessary armed resources to meet the gangland threat, uniformed and unarmed gardai may be particularly vulnerable.

"Having a full complement and beyond of armed units patrolling the capital is no longer a choice - it is a necessity," he said.

"Government must now immediately provide whatever supplementary budget is needed to ensure further killings are prevented. If they do not, we can only expect more carnage on our streets," he added.

Mr O'Keeffe was speaking following a tweet by the GRA, in which it warned that "armed cover must be increased now before more lives are lost".

"The GRA has warned about this for some time, yet this has recently met with a reduction, not an increase, in armed patrols in the capital," it added.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the latest gangland killing showed "contempt for law and order", and added that the perpetrators of the murder would be "tracked down".

"The gardai have had much success from intensive and round-the-clock police work," he said.

"I urge anybody with information, however trivial it may seem, to contact gardai.

"The gardai will continue relentlessly to put these ruthless lawbreakers out of business."

It is believed that Hutch and his two associates were in the Ronanstown area to throw drugs over the wall of Wheatfield Prison. The Bridgeview site backs on to the prison.

Gardai believe that as Hutch was fired upon, the car he was in lurched forward before cutting out.

It is unclear if he made a deliberate attempt to escape or whether his foot pressed the accelerator in an involuntary reaction to his injuries.

Witnesses say the gunman fired into Hutch's head after the car came to a halt and he was slumped in it.

A post-mortem was due to take place on his body yesterday afternoon.

Hutch's brother Nathan is an inmate in Wheatfield Prison. He has also been notified about possible threats to his life.

He is considered to be one of the most dangerous armed robbers in the capital, but his luck ran out last year when he was extradited from the UK to face a number of charges related to driving a stolen vehicle and armed robbery.

One of the cases related to a city centre car chase on Christmas Eve 2015, when he was spotted in a stolen car in the Ballsbridge area.

Flee

Despite managing to flee the scene, the vehicle was found to contain the thug's DNA, as well as a knife and a canister of petrol. He subsequently received a two-year jail term.

Another member of the Hutch family in the jail is Hutch's cousin, Derek 'Del Boy' Hutch.

An incident room has now been set up by gardai investigating the latest murder, as teams of detectives begin to process the forensic evidence from the scene, the witness accounts of what happened and any CCTV footage.

Supt John Gordon said that gardai did not yet know how many people were involved in the incident and that it did not yet have a description of the assailants.

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