Sunday 22 April 2018

Nearly 500 gardaí who saw photo did not identify Hutch

Stock Picture
Stock Picture

Andrew Phelan

Around 500 gardaí were asked to look at a photograph of a man in a woman's wig taken at the scene of the Regency Hotel gun murder, but only two identified the accused, Patrick Hutch.

The Special Criminal Court heard that, while the photograph was identified by two detectives, there was no other information about the other gardaí - who may have known Mr Hutch but did not identify him in the picture. The defence is objecting to the admissibility of the Garda identification evidence.

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

They do not allege the accused shot Mr Byrne, but that he participated in the February 5, 2016, gangland raid and shared intent to commit the crimes.

Detective Inspector David Gallagher was cross-examined on his earlier evidence about the wider procedure of showing photographs taken at the scene to gardaí for identification.

An estimated 500 gardaí had seen the image of the man in the wig but nobody else had identified him.

"Do you know why the other 498 didn't recognise him?" Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, asked Det Insp Gallagher.

He replied they had never seen the accused before and many gardaí would not know him.

Mr O'Higgins said the "photograph of the transvestite" would have been shown to gardaí who knew Patrick Hutch or had met him.

He said a reason someone might not recognise the man in the photograph was that he was wearing lipstick, make-up, horn-rimmed glasses, a wig and female clothing and was, in effect, "in a disguise".

"It is in those circumstances that the information about gardaí who viewed that photograph and who know Patrick Hutch and didn't recognise him is very important," Mr O'Higgins said.

Earlier, he finished cross-examining Det Sgt Patrick O'Toole, who had given evidence the day before.

The court had heard it was Det Sgt O'Toole who brought Detective Garda Fergal O'Flaherty and Jonathan Brady into a room at Ballymun garda station, where they identified Patrick Hutch in the photograph.

Mr O'Higgins said the detectives who made the identification on February 7, 2016, were not separated as a "safeguard" against influencing each other when they viewed the picture, and their evidence that one left the room "never happened".

The gardaí have insisted they did not name Mr Hutch in each other's presence. Mr O'Higgins said there were inconsistencies between Det Sgt O'Toole's statement about the identification and his evidence to the court.

Det Sgt O'Toole said any apparent inconsistencies were down to one reading or "interpretation" of what he had written, and were not intentional.

He denied telling an "unadorned lie" in his account of how the identification was carried out.

The court heard Det Sgt O'Toole had made an additional statement in December 2017 to set out the circumstances of the identification and he could not recall if he re-read his original statement.

Mr O'Higgins put it to Det Sgt O'Toole the account of the identification was "shambolic, inconsistent and not what happened".

Det Sgt O'Toole denied this.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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