Monday 24 September 2018

Regency murder accused may face retrial as new material presents 'unprecedented conundrums'

The Regency Hotel
The Regency Hotel

Andrew Phelan

REGENCY Hotel gun murder accused Patrick Hutch may face a retrial after the Special Criminal Court heard new information had come to light that brought “unprecedented conundrums” for the case.

Mr Hutch’s defence lawyer said he had to consider additional material that had been provided by the prosecution and “in all probability” he would be seeking an “outright adjournment.”

This would mean a new trial date if it is granted, he said.

Judge Tony Hunt said the trial was in “unusual territory” and put the case back to this Thursday. Today’s delay is the latest in the trial after it was stalled two weeks ago when the defence asked for copies of e-mails between four gardai to be furnished by the prosecution.

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

He also denies possessing three AK47 assault rifles.

The shooting happened during a boxing weigh-in, when a man dressed as a woman and another wearing a flat cap, armed with handguns, followed by a “tactical team of three men disguised as gardai with assault rifles, stormed the hotel.

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.

Today, Michael O’HIggins SC, defending, said the DPP had made some additional material available which the defence was going to have to consider.

He said he could not be any more specific than that and asked the judges to adjourn the case to Thursday.

He would be assisting the court as much as he could then, he said.

“In all probability if the case is put back to later in the week, we will be applying that the trial will be adjourned outright for certain matters to proceed,” Mr O’Higgins said.

Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting said he did not wasn't to “speak in code” but he hoped the court would put some trust in him at this stage not ventilating in full the nature of the material.

“It’s presented some unprecedented conundrums,” Mr Gillane said.

Mr Gillane said he did not think the application Mr O’Higgins was making was “a light one.”

The prosecution and defence had been working on this for the last week and it was “not something that had just developed,” he said.

Judge Tony Hunt, presiding in the three-judge, non-jury court said he was concerned at what was meant by the an “outright” adjournment.

“We would be making a submission to the court that certain matters need to be investigated and that would take time and there has already been quite a gap,”Mr O’Higgins said.

Explaining what he meant by an outright adjournment, he said it was as opposed to a postponement and a resumption which “would not be practical.”

“It would be put back for mention and a new trial date or the matter would be put back and the existing court would resume the trial,” he said, explaining the two options.

It was a “complicated matter,” he said.

Judge Hunt said as he had been told matters were proceeding in the background to the trial, the court was not going to enquire “too deeply or at all” into what was proceeding outside the court.

“We are in unusual territory here,” he said, adjourning the case. “What happens on Thursday depends on what you tell us.”

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