Sunday 18 February 2018

Kinahan feud victim's son among inmates challenging sentences

Eddie Hutch Sr
Eddie Hutch Sr
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A son of murdered gangland feud victim Eddie Hutch Snr is one of at least 15 prisoners challenging their detention following a High Court ruling striking down suspended sentencing laws.

Lawyers for Alan Hutch (33), who is currently serving a sentence for issuing death threats to gardaí, are set to argue that the activation of a suspended sentence he received should be set aside. Most of the challenges are to be heard by the High Court this month or in June.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan adjourned 15 cases that came before him yesterday and set dates for several hearings.

The judge said he realised that the cases were urgent and must be offered as much priority as possible.

A number of the challenges cannot go ahead until another High Court judge, Mr Justice Paul McDermott, issues a ruling in the case of another prisoner, Paul Clarke.

All of the prisoners mounting challenges are either seeking judicial reviews of their detention, or are seeking an inquiry into the lawfulness of their detention under Article 40 of the Constitution. It is understood that several cases will be contested by the State.

Emergency legislation being prepared by the Government to deal with the fallout from the ruling by Justice Moriarty may be enacted by the time the cases come to be heard.

Hutch's case was among five new applications that came before the High Court for the first time yesterday. It is expected there will be further applications on behalf of other prisoners in the coming days.

His legal team issued proceedings against the Governor of Mountjoy Prison.

It is believed that Eddie Hutch, a taxi driver who was not involved in serious crime, was murdered on the orders of the Kinahan drugs cartel in retaliation for the Regency Hotel attack earlier that month.

Should Alan Hutch be successful in striking down the activation of his suspended sentence, it will not mean he is freed from jail, as he is currently serving another lengthy sentence, having been jailed for eight years in May 2013 for threatening to kill three gardaí.

At the time, he was serving a suspended sentence of four years for a 2009 robbery and for assaulting a Garda, which was activated as a result of subsequent offences. Hutch's offences also include car theft, dangerous driving and damaging a Garda car in a high-speed chase around north Dublin.

The challenges have been initiated after Mr Justice Moriarty struck down two parts of Section 99 of the Criminal Justice Act as they curtailed the ability to appeal sentences.

The law meant it was possible that someone who received a suspended sentence and later re-offended could end up having the suspended sentence activated before they could appeal against their second conviction.

This meant it was possible that a person could be held in jail before having had the opportunity to exhaust their right of appeal.

Irish Independent

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