Tuesday 23 October 2018

Special Criminal Court hears from three gardaí who did not identify accused in photo taken at scene

The Regency Hotel
The Regency Hotel

Andrew Phelan

A garda did not identify Regency Hotel murder accused Patrick Hutch in a photo taken at the scene, despite having spoken to him in hospital two years earlier when the accused was the victim of a separate shooting.

Detective Garda Kevin Keys said when he was shown the picture of a man in a wig by investigators, he was not in a position to make any identification because he “did not know him well enough.”

Det Garda Keys said Mr Hutch was not on his “radar” to the same extent as his brothers, Gary, who was killed in 2015, and Derek “Del Boy” Hutch, who is serving a prison sentence.

He was among three gardai who failed to make an identification when they were shown the photograph, the Special Criminal Court heard today.

Patrick Hutch (25), from Champion's Avenue, in the north inner city is pleading not guilty to murdering David Byrne (33), from Crumlin and possession of three assault rifles.

Mr Byrne  was shot dead by a “tactical team” of gunmen dressed as gardai who stormed the hotel along with a man wearing a wig and another in a flat cap.

Prosecutors claim Mr Hutch was identified as the man dressed as a woman.

Their case is not that he shot Mr Byrne but that he participated in the February 5, 2016 raid and shared intent to commit the crimes.

Detective Gardai Fergal O’Flaherty and Jonathan Brady were the only two gardai to say they identified Mr Hutch when they were shown the picture at Ballymun Garda Station on February 7, 2016.

Defence barrister Michael O’Higgins SC is objecting to the admissibility of their evidence.

Today, Mr O’Higgins cross-examined three garda witnesses who viewed the photograph of a “man in a wig” but did not identify anyone.

Garda Alan Flaherty said he was involved in an investigation in late September, 2014, when Patrick Hutch was arrested and detained.

In the course of his detention, Garda Flaherty interviewed him once. He viewed the photograph of the man in a wig in the Detective Inspector’s office at Coolock Garda Station in February 2016 and was asked if he could make an identification.

He confirmed to Mr O’Higgins he “failed to make an identification” and told Judge Tony Hunt he was on his own when the Detective Inspector showed him the photo.

Garda Catriona Brady said she came into contact with Patrick Hutch in 2014, when he was seen in conversation with another person at a roundabout at the Rory O’Connor House flats complex in the inner city.

They were noted to walk away as gardai approached.

Mr O’Higgins said Patrick Hutch was the brother of Derek “Del Boy” Hutch, who has been in custody since 2009, serving a lengthy sentence.

His other brother was Gary Hutch, who was released from a lengthy sentence in 2007 and emigrated to Spain, where he spent the bulk of his time until his untimely death in August 2015.

Mr O’Higgins said between February 6 and 8, 2016, Grada Brady had looked at the same photo and failed to make any identification.

“I didn’t, no,” she replied.

Detective Garda Kevin Keys then confirmed he had some involvement in the investigation into an incident in August 2014 in which Patrick Hutch received gunshot injuries to his leg.

The lead investigators were Detective Gardai Fergal O’Flaherty and Jonathan Brady.

Det Garda Keys went to hospital and spoke to Patrick Hutch, who was in bed.

On February 6, 2016, he was shown the photo in question at Ballymun Garda Station and was not in a position to make an identification.

“I didn’t know him well enough to make an identification,” Det Garda Keys said.

Asked if he took any steps before or after he looked at the picture, he said he “would have checked Pulse” in relation to a number of people.

The court heard Det Garda Keys checked Patrick Hutch’s Pulse entry at 1.06pm on February 6, with the reason headed: “re-intel.”

He checked it again at 2.55pm with the heading “re-pic” and at 3.55pm the following day, February 7 with the heading “re-pic.”

“It may have been to check his picture on Pulse, I can’t say the exact reason, I would have looked at a number of people,” Det Garda Keys said of this heading.

Mr O’Higgins said it would suggest that the circulation of the picture and Patrick Hutch were a “talking point.”

Det Garda Keys said when he viewed the photo he was not aware of anyone else having viewed it at that stage.

On the “re-intel” heading, Mr O’Higgins said that would suggest a line of enquiry was being followed.

Det Sgt Keys said Patrick Hutch’s was not the only file checked on that day and he was familiarising himself with a number of people.

Asked about the Hutch family, Det Garda Keys said Gary and Derek Hutch would have been on his radar for various reasons over a period of time, but Patrick Hutch would not have been to the same extent.

Det Garda Keys said the photo he looked at was of two people, including the man in the flat cap.

He said he viewed the photo in the Superintendent’s office in Ballymun.

Det Garda Keys said he had been one of the first gardai at the scene of the Regency shooting and offered his help.

The trial continues.

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