THE second day of the Gary Hutch murder trial continued in Malaga today with questions growing around key pieces of evidence included in the investigation.
James Quinn, 35, is facing life imprisonment over the murder of Hutch, who was shot 15 times on 24 September 2015.
Quinn is accused of shooting the 34-year-old in the head twice from close range after allegedly chasing him around the Angel de Miraflores residential estate in Mijas.
On the second day of the trial at La Ciudad de la Justicia court in Malaga – which is expected to last until Thursday with a verdict on Friday – heard five people testify.
Police investigators and the prosecution counsel, Jose Barba, claimed a baseball cap that tested positive for Quinn’s DNA has been a ‘main player’ in identifying the Dubliner as the perpetrator of the crime, which he was arrested for in September 2016.
Officials revealed they had obtained the defendant’s DNA after an undercover officer took a water bottle Quinn had been drinking from at a train station in Madrid in July 2016.
In CCTV footage from the estate on the day of the murder, the prosecution claims the attacker is first seen wearing a baseball cap, which he changes to a balaclava before attacking Hutch.
Defence counsel Pedro Apalategui argued: “When I studied the still images, it [the cap] wasn’t in a single one of them.”
The defence highlighted that in the first official police report from the crime, there was no mention of the baseball cap.
He questioned why it was not brought to attention or registered in reports until Quinn’s DNA had been obtained almost a year after the incident.
A Guardia Civil chief involved in the investigation, who testified via video conference, claimed that the baseball cap had simply not been noticed in the footage earlier.
“Is it true that from July 2016 you started to mention a still frame in which Quinn wears a cap?” Apalategui asked.
The Guardia Civil chief responded that they could not include all still images from the CCTV – of which there were thousands – and chose the most important frames at the beginning of the investigation.
“He was wearing a cap from the beginning. We have included it because it is an important part … Not because it wasn’t there before,” he responded.
Two witnesses, a resident at the apartment complex and a grounds worker who were present on the day of the attack, testified anonymously behind a door in a separate room.
Both claimed they did not see a cap at any point – but mentioned that they saw the attacker wearing a balaclava and a zip up hoodie.
Jurors were presented with evidence recovered from the BMW getaway car, which was set on fire near Marbella after the attack on Hutch.
Items included a pair of runners – of which only the soles remained – two gloves, a charred hat that crumbled in the hands of jurors, a zip-up hoody and a black cap.
All but the black baseball cap were either partially or completely burnt.
Quinn, who was dressed in a navy suit with a pink shirt and tie and closely guarded by Policia Nacional officers, shook his head at the site of the evidence.
The forensic official said: “Some items were covered by others on top – like layers.
“The parts that were on the top received more heat and burnt more, the ones in the middle less so and the ones on the bottom were almost completely fine, like the cap.”
The prosecution and investigating officers revealed how the murder has triggered the Kinahan-Hutch feud after discovering various clues they allege link Quinn to the Kinahan gang, which they believe could be a motive behind the attack.
A testifying police officer claimed after the getaway BMW car was set on fire, two Romanian brothers who had allegedly been staying at Quinn’s home close to Marbella, picked him up from the scene in a car they believe belonged to Daniel Kinahan’s late mother.
The brothers were both arrested but dismissed at a later date.
Another piece of evidence that officers believed was a ‘clear link’ was a photograph of Kinahan’s mother found in Quinn’s wallet when he was arrested at Madrid Barajas airport in September 2016.
Investigators alleged that Quinn admitted he ‘already knew’ about a failed assassination attempt in Mallorca on August 17 2016, which killed Irishman Trevor O’Neill, during a telephone conversation on the day of the incident, before the news was publicly revealed.
Officials claimed that the defendant spoke about the incident in code by referring to a tattoo which read ‘fail’.
O’Neill was not the intended target and it is believed the crime was related to the Kinahan-Hutch gangland feud.
The trial continues tomorrow.