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Challenge to planned trial of Gerry Hutch in Special Criminal Court



Gerry Hutch has been given permission to bring a High Court challenge against the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court to hear his trial for the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in Dublin five years ago.

Mr Hutch, known as ‘The Monk’, claims the decision to try him before the non-jury court is “a significant curtailment of his rights”.

He is charged in connection to Mr Byrne’s murder at the hotel in Whitehall on February 5th, 2016. Following the charge, the Director of Public Prosecutions certified that, under the 1939 Offences Against the State Act, his trial should not proceed before an ordinary court. The trial has been fixed for next October.

Represented by Brendan Grehan SC, with Michael Hourigan Bl, instructed by Ferrys solicitors, Mr Hutch argues that he should not be tried under what amount to temporary emergency legislation introduced in 1972 during the Northern Errand Troubles. The Oireachtas has failed to enact legislation to permit the establishment of a permanent Special Criminal Court, he claims.

Trying him under temporary legislation breaches his rights, including his right to a fair trial, he further claims. He claims that he should be tried before a judge and jury, rather than in three-judge court.

In judicial review proceedings against the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Minister for Justice, Dáil Éireann, Ireland and the Attorney General, Mr Hutch seeks various orders and declarations.

Unlawful

Mr Hutch, with an address in Clontarf, Dublin, seeks an order prohibiting his trial from proceeding before the court. He also seeks various declarations from the court including that such a trial would be unlawful, outside the powers of the 1939 Offences Against the State Act, and violates his rights.He also wants the court to stay his trial pending the outcome of his High Court challenge.

His action came before Mr Justice Anthony Barr at Monday’s sitting of the High Court. The judge, on an ex parte basis, where only Mr Hutch’s lawyers were present, granted permission to bring his challenge. The matter will be mentioned before the court again next month.

Earlier this year, former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall, who is also charged with Mr Byrne’s murder, launched a similar challenge against the Special Criminal Court’s jurisdiction to hear his trial. Mr Dowdall, of Navan Road, Cabra, Dublin, a former member of Dublin City Council, also opposes being tried before the non-jury court. His case is due to be mentioned before the High Court early next year.



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