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‘Destroyed’ Regency tracker records recovered, Gerry Hutch murder trial hears

The data was thought to have been destroyed but detectives from the garda Cyber Crime Bureau were able to recover a "workable copy" from a computer over the weekend

An armed garda outside the Special Criminal Court on Monday where the trial of Gerry Hutch for the murder of David Byrne continues this week. Photo: Collins Courts

Andrew PhelanSunday World

Gardai have found the records from a covert tracking device that was planted on a jeep murder accused Gerard "The Monk" Hutch was allegedly driven to Northern Ireland in.

The data was thought to have been destroyed but detectives from the garda Cyber Crime Bureau were able to recover a "workable copy" from a computer over the weekend, the Special Criminal Court heard.

The tracker was placed on ex Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall's Toyota Land Cruiser when he allegedly brought Mr Hutch to a meeting with republicans in the aftermath of the Regency hotel shooting.

Mr Hutch is on trial charged with murdering David Byrne who was shot dead in the gangland attack at the Regency in Dublin on February 5, 2016.

Jason Bonney and Paul Murphy are accused of helping the criminal organisation responsible by providing cars used to drive the assailants away after the shooting.

Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch was extradited from Spain last year

Mr Byrne (33), a Kinahan gang member, was killed when three assault rifle-wielding masked raiders, disguised as ERU gardai, stormed the hotel along with a gunman dressed as a woman in a blonde wig, and another armed man in a flat cap.

The attack on a boxing weigh-in event happened as a bloody feud raged between the Kinahan and Hutch crime gangs.

Mr Hutch (59), of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin, Mr Murphy (61) of Cherry Avenue, Swords and Mr Bonney (51) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, deny the charges against them.

Dowdall had also been accused of murder, but before the trial started, he instead admitted facilitating Mr Byrne’s killing by booking a hotel room for the perpetrators. The court has heard when Dowdall and Mr Hutch allegedly went north on March 7, 2016, covert tracking and audio devices had been deployed on the jeep by the garda National Surveillance Unit.

The prosecution is seeking to use in evidence a 10-hour recording of conversations from that journey.

The admissibility of the evidence is being challenged by Mr Hutch’s defence, maintaining that for eight hours of the recording, the jeep was outside the jurisdiction, where any surveillance

Then-head of the NSU, Ciaran Hoey, gave evidence last week that he ordered the destruction of the records of the tracker device in February this year. Defence barrister Brendan Grehan SC said the data could have indicated the jeep’s location during the journey.

Brendan Grehan SC, counsel for Gerry Hutch, arrives at the Special Criminal Court on Monday. Photo: Collins Courts

Today, prosecutor Sean Gillane SC said a “considerable amount” of technical work had been done in the background since the last day of the trial. This arose from evidence heard last week of the destroyed data and the significance the defence said this had for the case.

An operation involving the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau was initiated to establish if something could be done about what had arisen.

Over the weekend, a securely stored desktop which itself was listed for destruction was examined and it appeared that a working copy of the material in question was located on it yesterday evening. It was secured and made available for examination.

Mr Gillane said he had been able to examine a lot of that material and he sought more time from the court.

Mr Grehan said that “if it appears that what was lost is now found” he would also need time “to see where we go” from here.

Ms Justice Tara Burns, presiding, adjourned proceedings to later today.

The non-jury trial is taking place before Ms Justice Burns, Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.


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