Republic of Ireland news

Bugged conversations between Hutch and ex-Sinn Féin councillor ‘should be admissible'

Gerard `the Monk' Hutch

CONVERSATIONS between Regency Hotel murder accused Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch and ex-Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall, captured by a Garda bugging device, are admissible in evidence, the Republic’s Special Criminal Court has heard.

Mr Hutch (59), left, last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, denies the murder of David Byrne (33), below, during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel in Dublin on February 5 2016. 

Mr Byrne died after suffering catastrophic injuries from six gunshots fired from a high-velocity weapon to the head, face, stomach, hand and legs.

Jonathan Dowdall (44) – a married father of four with an address at Navan Road, Cabra, Dublin 7 – was due to stand trial for Mr Byrne’s murder alongside Mr Hutch but pleaded guilty in advance of the trial to a lesser charge of facilitating the killers by making a hotel room available ahead of the murder.

Dowdall has been jailed for four years and the former Dublin councillor is currently being assessed for the witness protection programme after agreeing to testify against former co-accused.

The defence is objecting to the admissibility of almost eight hours of the contents of a 10-hour audio recording of conversations between Mr Hutch and Dowdall captured by a Garda bugging device on March 7 2016.

Defence barrister Brendan Grehan SC argued that Dowdall’s Toyota Land Cruiser was in Northern Ireland from 3.10pm to 10.50pm that day, when Dowdall allegedly drove the two men to the north to meet republicans.

Mr Grehan has previously said his “core argument” is that gardaí were aware that Dowdall’s vehicle was outside the jurisdiction for eight of the 10 hours of these recordings and that the evidence harvested from that “illicit fruit” should be excluded from the trial.

The prosecution’s case is that Mr Hutch had asked Dowdall to arrange a meeting with his provisional republican contacts to mediate or resolve the Hutch-Kinahan feud due to the threats against the accused’s family and friends.

The prosecution agreed with the presiding judge it was the State’s case that, once a surveillance device is placed and retrieved lawfully on a car within this jurisdiction, “then it does not matter a damn where the vehicle was in the meantime”.

Sean Gillane SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, submitted that an audio surveillance device is “simply an inanimate movable item” which had been “applied, sought, deployed, initiated and retrieved within the State” and that the data was recovered within the State. He added: “No question of extraterritoriality in truth arises’’.

Mr Gillane submitted that the defence’s contention was that as soon as one reaches the border of the Carrickdale Hotel that “all bets are off and the bug doesn’t work”.

The trial continues.

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