Wednesday 25 April 2018

Gardaí made 'dog's dinner' of identifying gunman in wig, trial told

Stock picture: Getty
Stock picture: Getty

Andrew Phelan

The circumstances in which two detectives identified Regency Hotel murder accused Patrick Hutch from a photo taken at the scene were a "dog's dinner," the defence has claimed.

Michael O'Higgins SC argued that there were "unfair procedures" behind the purported identification, and accounts of gardaí stepping in and out of the room were "like 'Lanigan's Ball'." He was objecting to the admissibility of the evidence of gardaí who say they recognised Mr Hutch from a photo of a man in a wig.

Mr O'Higgins's legal submissions were due to conclude today, when the prosecution is expected to respond before the three-judge Special Criminal Court makes its decision on whether to allow the evidence.

Patrick Hutch (25), from Champion's Avenue, Dublin, is pleading not guilty to murdering David Byrne (33), from Crumlin, and possession of three assault rifles.

Mr Byrne was shot dead by a "tactical team" of gunmen dressed as gardaí who stormed the hotel along with a man wearing a woman's wig and another in a flat cap. Prosecutors claim Mr Hutch was identified as the man dressed as a woman.

Evidence

Their case is not that he shot Mr Byrne but that he participated in the February 5, 2016, gangland raid and shared intent to commit the crimes.

The court has heard Detective Gardaí Fergal O'Flaherty and Jonathan Brady identified Mr Hutch in the photo when Gda Michael Ryan showed it to them at Ballymun garda station on February 7, 2016. Det Sgt Patrick O'Toole brought the two detectives for the viewing.

All have insisted in evidence Mr Hutch was named separately by the two detectives, while the defence contends they named him in each other's presence.

Mr O'Higgins argued the court could not be convinced beyond reasonable doubt of the version of events on which the prosecution was relying. He argued the identifications were "tainted and sullied".

There was a "significant lack of fair procedures" in how the event was recorded, he said.

Because of the "unfair procedures", he argued, the identification should not be allowed. "What did or didn't happen in that room can only be described as a dog's dinner," Mr O'Higgins said.

"There are so many different versions floating around, so much ambivalence and ambiguity floating around… there are accounts given that simply cannot be reconciled."

Earlier, four gardaí who knew Patrick Hutch gave evidence that they were shown the same photo and did not make any identification.

Detective Garda Kevin Keys was involved in the investigation into an incident in August 2014 in which Patrick Hutch received gunshot injuries.

Det Gda Keys went to hospital and spoke to Mr Hutch.

On February 6, 2016, he was shown the photo in question at Ballymun garda station. "I didn't know him well enough to make an identification," Det Gda Keys said.

Garda Alan Flaherty was involved in another investigation in late September 2014, when Patrick Hutch was interviewed.

Garda Catriona Brady said she came into contact with Patrick Hutch in 2014, when he was seen in conversation with another person near Rory O'Connor House flats complex in the inner city.

Juvenile Liaison Garda Paul Caffrey attended the funeral of the accused's brother Gary Hutch in 2015 and shook hands with Patrick Hutch.

He was also shown the photograph in question by investigating gardaí and made no identification.

All three gardaí were shown the photo in 2016 and failed to make an identification.

Irish Independent

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