Saturday 21 July 2018

CCTV of Dublin's north inner city is so "extensive and pervasive" it breaches privacy rights – Gareth Hutch murder trial hears

Jonathan Keogh and Thomas Fox are accused of murdering Gareth Hutch who was shot in 2016
Jonathan Keogh and Thomas Fox are accused of murdering Gareth Hutch who was shot in 2016

Alison O'Riordan

CCTV recording of Dublin's north inner city is so “extensive and pervasive” that it breaches privacy rights, lawyers for a man accused of murdering Gareth Hutch have claimed. 

Sean Guerin SC, for Jonathan Keogh (32), made his submissions to the Special Criminal Court today, arguing that the CCTV footage amounted to a significant interference into a person’s private life.

Judges at the non-jury court are expected to give a decision tomorrow on the admissibility of the CCTV footage as evidence.

The State is seeking to admit CCTV footage concerning the movements of the accused in the days leading up to Mr Hutch’s murder as well as transactions carried out by them and CCTV tracking several vehicles.

Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, said a small amount of the CCTV footage was obtained from residential premises but the majority of the footage concerns business premises.

In his submissions to the three-judge court, Mr Guerin said the CCTV recording of the north inner city, where his client resides, is so “extensive and pervasive” that it amounted to a significant interference into a person’s private life.

The CCTV footage concerns extensive private interactions and activities happening in a public sphere, said Mr Guerin.

The barrister further argued that gardai are able to seek out CCTV footage “without any qualification or restriction” and such a system cannot be said to be in accordance with Irish law. Before anyone was identified in this case, Mr Guerin said, the gardai captured CCTV footage wholesale.

The court should decline to admit evidence, he said, which is in breach of Mr Keogh's privacy right under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Data Protection Act.

Mr Burns, prosecuting, said in reply that no constitutionally protected aspect of privacy is engaged here. “If no privacy right of Mr Keogh has been infringed then the point does not get off the ground,” he said.

Mr Burns said the privacy argument put forward by the defence is being made without reference to any other rights. He submitted that the privacy argument is always made in isolation and asked the court where is the right to detect and prosecute crime as well as society’s right to have alleged murderers brought to justice. “The court has to look at competing rights and interests and strike a proper balance between Mr Keogh’s privacy right and the right to prosecute crime,” he said.  

The barrister said there was nothing disproportionate nor arbitrary done by gardai in this case. “It was an entirely proportionate response by gardai to canvass CCTV footage,” he added, saying gardai have an obligation to seek out and retain evidence in the relevant area.

Referring to the defence’s citing of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, Mr Burns said Mr Keogh’s charter rights has not been infringed.

The evidence was heard as part of a voir dire – or “trial within a trial” – to help the judges determine its admissibility.

Mr Hutch (36), nephew of Gerry "the monk" Hutch was shot dead as he was getting into his car outside Avondale House flats on North Cumberland Street in Dublin on the morning of May 24, 2016. He died as a result of four gunshot injuries.

Thomas Fox (31) with an address at Rutland Court, Dublin 1, Regina Keogh (41) from Avondale House, Cumberland Street North, Dublin 1 and Mr Keogh of Gloucester Place, Dublin 1, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Hutch.

Mr Fox has also denied unlawfully possessing a Makarov 9 mm handgun on May 23, 2016 at the same place.

At the opening of the trial, the prosecution told the court that the killing of Mr Hutch was not a spontaneous or spur of the moment act but a “brutal and callous murder”. “It was premeditated, and a significant amount of planning had gone into it,” counsel said.

The prosecution say the three co-accused each had their own part to play in bringing about the death of Mr Hutch.

The prosecution contend that Mr Keogh threatened to kill Mr Hutch the evening before the shooting, that Mr Fox and Ms Keogh were instrumental in planning the murder, and Mr Keogh and another man, Mr AB, were the shooters. 

The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Patricia Ryan and Judge Michael Walsh.

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