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James Quinn loses appeal against conviction for Gary Hutch murder

Lawyers for the Dubliner had sought to overturn his June 2018 conviction and prison sentence.

A view of the court building in Malaga.
A view of the court building in Malaga.
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

THE MAN AT the centre of the murder of Gary Hutch has lost his appeal against his murder conviction and 22-year jail sentence.

James Quinn (36) has been given the news in prison but is still waiting to see an English translation of the court ruling over his role in the assassination which sparked the brutal Kinahan/Hutch feud.

Lawyers for the Dubliner had sought to overturn his June 2018 conviction and prison sentence for the 24 September 2015 slaughter of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch’s nephew with an appeal to a higher court.

He was convicted after a trial in Malaga of being the getaway driver and lookout and found guilty of murder as a “necessary participant”.

Prosecutors initially had accused him of being the masked gunman who shot Hutch from close range outside his Costa del Sol home.

Three appeal judges rejected every aspect of the Irishman’s lawyers’ claims he had been wrongly convicted.

They described the police operation to catch Quinn, which included snatching his DNA from a water bottle and matching it to a sample found on his baseball cap in the getaway car, as “particularly brilliant”.

They rejected his defence lawyers’ claims the presence of the cap in the stolen getaway BMW was not enough to convict because bystanders had access to the abandoned vehicle after it was set on fire before police arrived.

And in a damning eight-page document they ruled Quinn’s role in Gary Hutch’s murder was “essential”.

Last gasp appeal

Quinn’s defence team is expected to make a last-gasp appeal to Spain’s Supreme Court once the convicted killer has read through an English translation of the Spanish-language document.

The appeal ruling, made by three judges at a court in the southern Spanish city of Granada, was made public this week.

Quinn’s lawyers had insisted there was not enough evidence to convict their client and he had been unfairly found guilty of aggravants included in the murder conviction which included the use of a disguise.

They also claimed in a secondary argument that even if he had been the lookout and getaway driver, his actions could be described as “complicity” but were not those of a “necessary participant”.

The appeal judges, led by Lorenzo Jesus del Rio Fernandez, ruled in a devastating put-down:

“It is more than reasonable in the present case to think that the modus operandi chosen to execute the murder had to come with maximum security conditions, as if it were a protocol of action decided by people who were experts in these sorts of situations.

Conscious there was CCTV in the place they had picked, they had to steal a car that would not be linked to the authors, they needed a disguise to avoid being recognised, they needed to make an immediate getaway afterwards and they also needed to destroy the vehicle by burning it to eliminate any evidence.

“That required the presence of another person who performed the function of companion and driver in a pre-planned distribution of roles.

We are not therefore dealing with a case in which someone who had decided to kill another has asked for some ad hoc assistance that could be given by a third person.

Rubbish claims

They also rubbished defence claims Quinn’s right to the presumption of innocence had been infringed by insisting:

“It’s true that the presence of other people for a few minutes who had been in contact with the getaway vehicle before the police could have meant their own DNA were found in any part of the car.

But what is beyond doubt is that in the vehicle carrying Gary Hutch’s killer, a baseball cap used by James Quinn was found.

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Quinn was arrested in September 2016 after undercover cops 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 the baseball cap they found in the car 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 Kinahans and Hutches which has claimed upwards of 18 lives – but only Quinn was charged.

He broke his silence over the murder to insist at the start of his trial last year he was in bed with a post-wedding hangover and a prostitute when Hutch was chased around the gated estate where he lived in Miraflores near Fuengirola before being shot at close range.

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.

‘Option B’

Jurors ruled it had been proven the Irishman 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.

But they said they could not conclude he was the man who chased 34-year-old Hutch around the swimming pool of his gated estate 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 trying Quinn 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.

Quinn was sentenced to 20 years for murder and two years for illegal weapons possession – over a gun found in a bedside table during a search of his Spanish home.

About the author:

Gerard Couzens

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