Court holding 'trial within a trial' on Regency Hotel murder

The Special Criminal Court is deciding whether to admit evidence claiming to identify the defendant

Court holding 'trial within a trial' on Regency Hotel murder

File photo. Image: RollingNews.ie

The Special Criminal Court is holding a so-called “trial within a trial” to decide on the admissibility of certain evidence relating to the Regency Hotel murder.

David Byrne was shot dead when a tactical team dressed as armed Gardaí stormed a boxing weigh-in at the Dublin hotel in February 2016.

The non-jury court is dealing with the evidence of two detectives who identified the accused Patrick Hutch from a photo taken at the scene.

On Feb 7th 2016, Detective Inspector David Gallagher called to a number of Garda stations in the Dublin Metropolitan Region with hard copies of two photos taken at the Regency Hotel on the day of the shooting.

One of them showed a man wearing a flat tweed cap. He was later identified by the PSNI as Kevin Murray, who has since passed away.

The other photo was of a man dressed as a woman with a handgun in his right hand.

It is the prosecution’s case that this was the accused; 25-year-old Patrick Hutch from Champion’s Avenue in Dublin’s north inner city.

A ‘voir dire,’ or trial within a trial, is now underway before the non-jury Special Criminal Court.

Before the three judges can rule on the admissibility of certain evidence identifying Mr Hutch as the man dressed as a woman, they must first hear it.

Detective Garda Jonathan Brady from Mountjoy Garda Station told the court he was 100% sure it was the accused when he was shown the image at Ballymun Garda Station the day after the shooting.

He said he had known him and his family since Aug 2014 when he investigated a shooting incident involving Mr Hutch.

Mr Hutch admitted himself to the Mater Hospital after being shot in the leg but Detective Brady said he refused to co-operate with the investigation. He said he wouldn’t make a complaint or statement and was later arrested for withholding information.

Detective Brady’s partner Detective Garda Fergal O’Flaherty also viewed the image and said he immediately recognised him. He said he let it be known to others in the room, but didn't openly name him at that time.

The prosecution is not suggesting Mr Hutch fired any of the six shots that killed David Byrne. He was charged with murder on their belief he participated in and shared the intent to commit the crime.