Wednesday 21 February 2018

Hutch case 'to collapse if defence wins ruling over photo'

The Regency Hotel
The Regency Hotel

Daniel Hickey

The case against Patrick Hutch, accused of murdering David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in Dublin almost two years ago, will collapse if a ruling on contested evidence identifying the accused in a photo favours the defence, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Submissions closed yesterday at the three-judge, non-jury court on the admissibility of evidence that two detectives, Fergal O'Flaherty and Jonathan Brady, identified Mr Hutch as a man dressed as a woman in a photo taken outside the hotel on the day.

The defence has argued that the circumstances in which the detectives identified Mr Hutch were "sullied and tainted".

Mr Hutch (25), of Champions Avenue, Dublin 1, is pleading not guilty to the murder of Mr Byrne (34) at the Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016.

He also denies possessing three AK47 assault rifles in connection with the shooting.

Det Gdas Brady and O'Flaherty have told the court that two days after the shooting they looked at a photo and "immediately recognised" the man in a wig as Patrick Hutch. Both detectives have testified that they made their identifications separately.

Michael O'Higgins SC, for Mr Hutch, has compared the various statements made and accounts given by the detectives on how they identified the accused man to "a dog's dinner".

Yesterday, the barrister summarised the defence's version of events, suggesting to the court that the two detectives had gone into the room in Ballymun Garda station and Det Gda O'Flaherty stepped up to the monitor before stepping back and saying to his colleague: "I'll let you look." He said that Det Gda Brady then stepped up and said: "I know who that is, that's Hutch", and that the other detective agreed.

Such an identification would be "tainted", the court heard.

Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, submitted that the context of the identification was relevant.

He said the two detectives knew "little or nothing" about the wider investigation.

Mr Gillane said the evidence from Det Gda Brady was that few gardaí would have known Patrick Hutch prior to 2014.

He also said it was "quite clear" on the evidence of the detectives that their knowledge of Mr Hutch was "quite specific and over a longer period of time" as opposed to some of the evidence of other gardaí, who said they knew the accused man but did not identify him.

The court will rule on the matter on Friday week.

Irish Independent

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