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'Constitutional right' Gerry Hutch takes case against State asking for judge and jury trial over Regency Hotel murder

Hutch has launched judicial review proceedings to prevent him from being tried before the non-jury court and will claim that he has a constitutional right to have his trial heard by a judge and jury.

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Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch

Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch

Gerry Hutch is accused of the murder of Kinahan associate David Byrne at the Dublin hotel on February 5, 2016. Photo: Julien Behal/PA

Gerry Hutch is accused of the murder of Kinahan associate David Byrne at the Dublin hotel on February 5, 2016. Photo: Julien Behal/PA

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Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch

GERRY ‘The Monk’ Hutch has taken a case against the State to have his trial for the Regency Hotel murder heard before a judge and jury.

The 58-year-old is accused of the murder of Kinahan associate David Byrne at the Dublin hotel on February 5, 2016.

He is due to go on trial before the Special Criminal Court next October after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) certified that the ordinary courts were inadequate to secure the administration of justice.

We can now reveal that Hutch has launched judicial review proceedings to prevent him from being tried before the non-jury court and will claim that he has a constitutional right to have his trial heard by a judge and jury.

The Monk is also set to argue that the Special Criminal Court was set up as an emergency measure half a century ago to deal with paramilitaries and should no longer be in operation as the emergency no longer exists.

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Gerry Hutch is accused of the murder of Kinahan associate David Byrne at the Dublin hotel on February 5, 2016. Photo: Julien Behal/PA

Gerry Hutch is accused of the murder of Kinahan associate David Byrne at the Dublin hotel on February 5, 2016. Photo: Julien Behal/PA

Gerry Hutch is accused of the murder of Kinahan associate David Byrne at the Dublin hotel on February 5, 2016. Photo: Julien Behal/PA

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Over the past 10 years, the non-jury court has been used more frequently to hear trials relating to serious organised crime, including the gang dispute in Limerick and the Hutch/Kinahan feud which claimed up to 18 lives.

Gerry Hutch is being represented in the proceedings by Dublin legal firm Ferrys Solicitors and an application for leave to bring the challenge is due to be heard by the High Court next Monday.

The defendants are the DPP, the Justice Minister, the Dáíl, the Seanad, Ireland and the Attorney General.

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Former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall is also accused of the murder of David Byrne.

Former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall is also accused of the murder of David Byrne.

Former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall is also accused of the murder of David Byrne.

Hutch will argue the Oireachtas has failed to enact specific legislation regarding the use of non-jury trials and has instead just opted to renew emergency measures first introduced in 1972.

He is expected to point to the fact specific legislation has existed in Northern Ireland to deal with non-jury trials since 2007, containing various safeguards for accused persons and setting out the particular circumstances in which a non-jury trial can be permitted.

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The case is similar to one already being taken by former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall, who is also accused of the murder of David Byrne.

In July, Dowdall launched proceedings challenging the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court to hear his trial.

He argues the legislation being used by the DPP was introduced in 1972 during the Troubles and was supposed to be temporary in nature.

A stay was initially granted on Dowdall’s trial, pending the outcome of his High Court action. However, the stay was subsequently lifted.

The Monk first appeared in court in September after being extradited from Spain before being formally charged with murder.

He was escorted into the building by plain-clothed detectives from the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) as part of a significant security operation at the Criminal Courts of Justice on Parkgate Street.

During that hearing Det Supt Paul Scott, of Ballymun garda station, said Hutch was informed the DPP had certified that the ordinary courts were inadequate for the administration of justice and the preservation of peace.

This, he said, was grounds for him to be tried before the Special Criminal Court.

A book of evidence and a USB key containing electronic exhibits were also served on the defendant on that date, who only spoke briefly to confirm his name.

During the hearing his defence counsel, Brendan Grehan SC, also said they were reserving their position on the lawfulness of Hutch’s arrest, the jurisdiction of the court, and whether his trial should be separate to his four co-accused.

Hutch is the fifth person currently before the courts in relation to the Regency Hotel shooting. Dowdall (44) appeared in court last April charged with murder.

Three other men – including Dowdall's father – were brought before the court earlier that month in relation to the investigation.

Patrick Dowdall (64), of the Navan Road, Dublin 7, Jason Bonney (50) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 15, and Paul Murphy (59) 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.

The Monk’s nephew, Patrick Hutch (29), had also been charged with the murder of David Byrne.

It was the State’s case that he was the gunman dressed in drag involved in the fatal shooting, but the charges against him were sensationally dropped in 2018.

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