Thursday 16 August 2018

High Court dismisses Patrick Hutch's claim his detention is unlawful

Court ruled Mr Hutch was not being detained in a manner that breaches his constitutional rights (stock photo)
Court ruled Mr Hutch was not being detained in a manner that breaches his constitutional rights (stock photo)

Aodhan O Faolain and Ray Managh

The High Court has dismissed a claim by Patrick Hutch, who is accused of carrying out the Regency Hotel murder of David Byrne, that his detention at Cloverhill Prison is unlawful.

In a ruling delivered on Wednesday evening, Mr Justice Donald Binchy found that Mr Hutch, who is on remand pending the outcome of his trial, was not being detained in a manner that breaches his constitutional rights.

Mr Hutch's lawyers argued his recent transfer from Wheatfield Prison to nearby Cloverhill left him isolated and unable to associate with other prisoners.

Mr Hutch, 25, of Champions Avenue, Dublin 1, has pleaded not guilty before the Special Criminal Court to the murder of David Byrne, 34, at a boxing weigh-in at the former Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016.

Mr Hutch also denies unlawful possession of three AK47 assault rifles on the same date. His trial currently stands adjourned.

Arising out of his transfer to Cloverhill Prison last week Mr Hutch's lawyers had secured permission from Mr Justice Binchy for an inquiry under Article 40 of the Constitution into the legality of his detention against the Governor of Cloverhill Prison.

Mr Hutch, the court heard, did not seek an order directing his immediate release from prison, but had asked that any order in his favour be delayed to allow the state mend its hand in relation to his detention.

Giving the court's decision Mr Justice Binchy said that this was "an unusual and exceptional"  case where Mr Hutch, who is currently awaiting the resumption of his trial, has been on remand for more than two years. It is not known exactly when his trial will resume,

The Judge said that "for good reasons" Mr Hutch had been put on a regime within the prison aimed at ensuring his safety.

The Judge said Mr Hutch has claimed he was isolated and unable to associate with other prisoners, bar one person, in Cloverhill.

However, the Judge said he was not satisfied that Mr Hutch's rights, including his right to associate with others, had been breached.

Mr Hutch's detention could not be classed as being so extreme that his detention could be deemed unlawful, the Judge said.

While no reasons had been given to the court for the transfer, the Judge said that in itself did not amount to something that would allow the court to make a finding that Mr Hutch's detention was unlawful.

The state, represented by Mark Lynam Bl, had opposed the action and denied that his detention was unlawful. Counsel argued the application was misconceived and no evidence was put before the court to suggest Mr Hutch's rights were breached.

Michael O'Higgins SC for Mr Hutch said his client had been at Wheatfield for two years after he suffered a number of high profile bereavements when members of his family were killed, where he had been able to associate with other prisoners known to him.

No written reason had been given for the decision to move his client and counsel said the transfer was without warning.

It was claimed Mr Hutch was moved because another prisoner had taken High Court proceedings and remand prisoners were being taken out of Wheatfield.

Mr Hutch's transfer was disproportionate and motivated by irrelevant considerations, namely the unrelated proceedings taken by another party, it was also claimed.

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