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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 28 May, 2020
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Three men who planned to kill Hutch family member jailed for combined 36.5 years

Gardaí intercepted the trio just 250 metres from their target’s home in Dublin’s north inner city.

File photo. Courtroom at the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
File photo. Courtroom at the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

A THREE-MAN “hit for hire team” have received sentences totalling 36.5 years at the Special Criminal Court for planning to kill a member of the Hutch family before they were intercepted by gardaí just 250 metres from their target’s home in Dublin’s north inner city.

The non-jury court heard that audio surveillance of the team – which included a British army veteran – picked up references to “the cartel” and “money all over the world”.

The garda investigation team were today praised for “excellent and intelligent police work” during the dangerous operation, which saw the gunmen caught “redhanded”.

Gary Thompson (34) and his brother Glen Thompson (24) were each jailed for 12 years and six months. A third man, Afghan war veteran Robert Browne (35) was sentenced to 11 years and six months in prison.

Sentencing the defendants today, presiding judge Justice Tony Hunt said this crime arose in the context of “an organised plan” and “lengthy preparations” to murder Patrick “Patsy” Hutch as he left his home. However, the plan as well as the participants in the plan had been “the source of constant garda surveillance”.

“Numerous loaded, highly dangerous and effective weapons” had been seized by gardai and “no restraint or reluctance” had been shown on the part of the accused, he commented, adding that these offences had arose out of criminality of a very serious nature.

Gary Thompson, with an address at Plunkett Green in Finglas, Dublin 11, his brother Glen Thompson, of Plunkett Drive, also in Finglas, and Robert Browne, of Phibsboro Road in Phibsboro, Dublin 7 previously admitted to unlawful possession of four firearms with intent to endanger life at Belmont Hall Apartments, Gardiner Street, Dublin 1 on 10 March, 2018.

The four firearms included a 9mm Rak sub-machine gun, a .38 Special Calibre Rossi Make Revolver, a 9mm Beretta 92 semi-automatic pistol and a 9mm Makarov semi-automatic pistol.

The maximum sentence for such an offence is life in prison and the minimum sentence is ten years.

Passing sentence today, Justice Hunt said that there were no circumstances to say that any of the accused man had acted under a threat. Recorded conversations had showed that there was a financial gain for them, he noted.

These offences were of the “utmost gravity” and extensive preparatory work had been carried out by each co-accused, he continued.

The main mitigating factor was that none of the accused could be characterised as a “high-level organiser” but they had clearly been prepared to assist “extensively” up to the point of the actual killing, he emphasised.

Having regard to the gravity of the offence, the judge said the firearms were loaded and had enormous potential for death and destruction, placing others in serious jeopardy at a well-populated city centre location. The judge said the headline sentence was 18 years imprisonment for each defendant in this case.

The evidence was particularly strong and the gunmen had been caught “redhanded” due to “the excellent and intelligent” police work, he commented.

The main mitigating factors were the men’s guilty pleas and the judge said he would apply a 25% deduction on account of this, which reduced each man’s sentence to 13 years and six months.

Referring to Glen Thompson, the judge said he was surprised he had been prepared to be involved in an “execution style murder” due to a family tragedy. In mitigation, he noted his minor amount of previous convictions and reduced his sentence by a further 12 months. The three-judge court imposed a sentence of 12 years and six months on Glen Thompson.

Sentencing Browne, the judge said he accepted that he had taken instructions rather than giving them but noted that his military background might “have been relevant in a shooting such as this”. The court has heard that Browne previously joined the British Army where he was well-regarded and did a number of tours in Afghanistan.

Browne had volunteered “a limited response” during questioning by gardaí, which the court was entitled to view as “material and significant assistance”, said the judge. The defendant was sentenced to 11 years and six months in prison.

Following this, father-of-four Gary Thompson was jailed for 12 years and six months. All sentences were backdated to 10 March 2018, when the three men went into custody.

The judge then addressed the three defendants saying:

Each of you were caught in the act. Had this been contested in full, there would have been little or no room for mitigation and would have resulted in a sentence close to the full 18 years.

 In summary, Justice Hunt congratulated Detective Superintendent David Gallagher from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau on an “undoubtedly dangerous and difficult operation”.

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Alison O'Riordan

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