court challenge | 

Gerry Hutch bids to have Regency Hotel murder charges thrown out over ‘insufficient evidence’

Mr Hutch and former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall, both accused of murder, were in court today along with three co-accused while there was also a notable garda presence.

Gerry Hutch

Robin SchillerSunday World

Gerry ‘The Monk' Hutch and his four Regency trial co-accused would be "discriminated" against if they can't bring an application to have their charges dismissed, their lawyers have said.

The defendants are seeking to have the cases against them dropped on the grounds that there is insufficient evidence under Section 4E of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1967

However, the Special Criminal Court must first determine a preliminary issue on whether it has jurisdiction to hear the application.

Lawyers for the defendants have said it would be "absurd" to deny them this on the basis that they were initially charged before the non-jury court in Dublin rather than the District Court.

Mr Hutch and former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall, both accused of murder, were in court today along with three co-accused while there was also a notable garda presence.

They are due to go on trial in October in relation to the fatal shooting of Kinahan gang member David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in 2016.

Senior counsel Brendan Grehan, defending Mr Hutch, today said it was an "absurd interpretation" of the Act if the State can choose the mode where an accused is charged and then deny them the "obvious benefits" of bringing the 4E application.

He described this as "extraordinary" and said their complaint related to the "availability of an important statutory right" to apply to have charges dismissed in advance of a trial.

Counsel also said it called for something beyond the literal reading of the relevant section and that Mr Hutch would be "discriminated and treated unequally" before the law by the literal interpretation.

Mr Grehan said there was "no earthly conceivable reason why this lacuna" should occur and that there was no justification for it.

He said his client has been in custody since September and that his pre-trial incarceration could be brought to an end if the court accepted that there is insufficient evidence to put him on trial.

Senior counsel Michael O'Higgins, defending Jonathan Dowdall, said that whoever drafted the legislation "inadvertently took their eye off the ball" and created circumstances nobody intended to.

He said it was "incredible" that it has taken 20 years for the matter to be litigated and that it was safe to say the DPP never intended to gain such an "arbitrary" advantage.

Mr O'Higgins referenced the case of convicted ISIS member Lisa Smith, who was able to bring a failed application to dismiss charges before the non-jury court. This was described by counsel as a "fortuitous entitlement" because Smith was originally charged in the District Court.

He submitted that the case should be adjourned for four weeks to allow the Oireachtas remedy the matter.

Fiona Murphy SC, for the State, said a literal reading of the Act means the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the application.

She also said that it seemed the legislator was "very clear as to the purpose of it".

Ms Justice Tara Burns, presiding, said the three judges would rule on the matter next Friday.

The court also heard that the defence would also be challenging certain evidence gathered by gardaí.

Gerard 'The Monk' Hutch (58), of The Paddocks in Clontarf, is charged with the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel on the Swords Road in Whitehall on February 5, 2016.

Former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall (43), with an address on the Navan Road, Cabra, is also charged with Byrne's murder.

His father Patrick Dowdall (65), also of the Navan Road, Jason Bonney (51) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 15, and Paul Murphy (60) of Cherry Avenue in Swords are each accused of a single offence contrary to Section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 as substituted by Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act, 2009.

Mr Hutch, wearing a white shirt, beige chinos and sporting a thick greying beard, sat in the dock beside Mr Murphy and the Dowdalls, while Mr Bonney sat in the body of the court.

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