The couple and their two children blended into the throng of high-spirited passengers disembarking the packed flight from Dublin in César Manrique Airport, Lanzarote on December 28, 2015. They were there as part of the seasonal invasion of Irish folk seeking a sunny post-Christmas respite from the cold and the darkness back home.
he family joined up with a friend who had arrived on the island the previous day with his girlfriend. Just before Christmas, the two men had presented their partners with an unexpected gift of a holiday to ring in the New Year on the Spanish island. As the women looked forward to a week’s fun in the sun, their partners had a more pressing objective — and it didn’t involve lying by the pool sipping sangria.
The women were blissfully unaware that their seasonal escape had been paid for by the men’s boss, Daniel Kinahan, the leader of one of Europe’s biggest crime cartels, and that this was to be a busman’s holiday.
The pair from the northside of Dublin had already proved their ability as cold-blooded professionals who were prepared to kill anyone just as long as the price was right. And this hit held the promise of a substantial bounty.
Their target was Gerard ‘Gerry’ Hutch, aka the Monk, one of the most infamous and powerful godfathers in Irish crime.
In the eyes of the law, he was not so much untouchable as uncatchable. The people in his old inner-city neighbourhood saw him as a Robin Hood figure. To the wider public, he was the object of morbid curiosity and fascination. To Daniel Kinahan, Hutch was nothing more than a pre-cancerous spot that required excision before it developed into a terminal tumour. Hutch was a threat to his continued survival and he had decided that the Monk was a dead man walking. By 2015, Ireland’s most successful armed robber had retired, spending most of the year in Lanzarote, where he owned a villa. After a festive visit to Dublin, Hutch had returned to Lanzarote on December 28 with his wife. He had a lot on his mind.
Unwavering loyalty to family and the transgressions of the younger hot-headed generation had propelled him into the firing line of an increasingly inevitable confrontation with one of Europe’s most powerful gangs.
The seeds of conflict took root over a year earlier when the Monk’s volatile nephew Gary Hutch organised a hit on his one-time close pal and boss Daniel Kinahan in Marbella in August 2014.
The attempt was a disaster, with the would‑be assassin shooting an innocent man by mistake. The finger of suspicion quickly landed on Gary Hutch and he was held prisoner while the crime boss investigated his near-miss.
The Dapper Don
At the insistence of Daniel Kinahan and his father, Christy Snr, aka the Dapper Don, Gerry Hutch was dragged into the negotiations to save his nephew’s life. A peace deal was hammered out which, in return for Gary’s life, included compensation and the punishment shooting of the suspected gunman. Pragmatism and reason seemed to have prevailed as both sides withdrew from the brink — or so thought the Monk.
In the end, the agreement was nothing more than a ruse to buy time as far as Daniel Kinahan was concerned. He was just waiting for the best moment to take his revenge and it came in September 2015 when Gary Hutch was executed at his apartment complex in the Costa del Sol resort of Estepona.
In the months since the murder, Kinahan had made a number of approaches to Hutch requesting a parley, but the Monk had ignored them. Hutch’s silence had rattled Kinahan, who knew he had awakened a deadly foe and there was only one way to neutralise the threat — a hitman’s bullet. That was what brought the two contract killers to Lanzarote.
Darkness had fallen on New Year’s Eve when Hutch and his wife arrived in the bar in Puerto del Carmen, where he had celebrated his 50th birthday two years earlier. The bar was full of revellers.
The hitmen had already reconnoitred the popular Irish pub, situated just off the main strip on the seafront, where they had the best chance of cornering their target.
By nature, Gerry Hutch was cautious and alert even when at his most relaxed, and the gradual escalation of hostilities had him on his guard. As he scanned the crowd, his eyes locked on two guys who had just walked in and were ordering a drink. His body tensed when he recognised them. He knew one of them to be a former friend of his nephew’s and a member of the republican crime gang the INLA. He had a reputation as a contract killer and a Kinahan loyalist. The pair at the bar pretended not to see their target but a momentary glance in his direction confirmed Hutch’s suspicions — they had come to kill him.
Satisfied that they had their target housed, the hitmen promptly left the pub to pick up the murder weapons. A few minutes later, they returned wearing balaclavas and, clutching the automatic weapons under their jackets, made for the spot where Hutch had just been sitting. But the seats were empty and there was no sign of the Monk or his wife. The gunmen fled. Hutch’s legendary feral street instinct had paid off. The following day, he returned to view the pub’s CCTV footage to get a look at his would-be assassins.
As he did, Hutch realised that a line had been crossed. He knew the Kinahans would not stop until they had killed him.
To get his revenge, there was only one law to follow: the gangland law of meeting fire with fire.
The Monk phoned a close confidant to tell him of the events of the previous night and of his next move: “Fuck them… if that’s what they want, then that’s what they’re going to get.”