Tuesday 18 September 2018

Judges at Regency trial give green light to key prosecution evidence 'identifying accused'

The Regency Hotel
The Regency Hotel

Daniel Hickey

Judges at the Special Criminal Court trial of Patrick Hutch, who is accused of the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel almost two years ago, have ruled that key prosecution evidence 'identifying the accused' is admissible.

The defence had objected to evidence that two detectives, Fergal O'Flaherty and Jonathan Brady, "immediately recognized" Mr Hutch as a man dressed as a woman and holding a gun in a photo that had been taken outside the hotel on the day of the fatal shooting there.

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

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

It is the prosecution's case that Mr Hutch was the man dressed as a woman and that he did not shoot Mr Byrne but was part of a "shared intention" to commit the offence.

The shooting took place during a boxing weigh-in at the hotel, the court has heard, when the man dressed as a woman and another wearing a flat cap, armed with handguns, followed by three people dressed in tactical-style garda uniforms and carrying assault rifles, raided the venue.

Last week, during five days of legal argument, Michael O'Higgins SC, for Mr Hutch, had argued that the circumstances in which the detectives identified his client were "sullied and tainted".

Ruling on the evidence this morning, however, Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding at the three-judge court, said there was no evidence that the detectives were together when they made the identification and the process was therefore contaminated.

The detectives have told the court that they made their identification separately.

The judge said that the recognitions had "not crossed the border into territory where they were so contaminated as to be excluded". 

The trial continues.

More to follow

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