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The State refused the application from Hutch's lawyers in the Special Criminal Court today.
regency hotel trial

Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch loses bid to have his legal costs in murder trial paid for by the State

Judge Tara Burns said the court was satisfied that an unfairness did not arise for Hutch in the decision to refuse costs.

CRIME FIGURE “The Monk” Hutch has failed in a bid to recoup his legal costs from the State after he was acquitted seven weeks ago of the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne at the Regency Hotel.

Delivering the court’s judgement on Mr Hutch’s costs application this evening, Ms Justice Tara Burns sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone said that an unfairness did not arise in denying the applicant his costs and there was a reasonable possibility that nothing was carried out by the Hutch Organised Crime Group (HOCG) without Mr Hutch’s “say so”.

Ms Justice Burns, presiding, in the non-jury court, said that whilst the court had rejected the prosecution case that Mr Hutch was one of the shooters in the Regency attack, the court was satisfied that he was recognised as the “figurehead” and “patriarchal figure of the HOCG”, an organisation which the court had found was responsible for and had orchestrated the attack.

She said that although the applicant was acquitted of the murder charge against him, there were other relevant considerations in the mix.

“He was involved in serious criminal conduct underlying the charge against him in terms of his possession of the guns from the Regency which he knew had been used to murder David Byrne,” she stated.

The judge said in the context of the murder charge, the Special Criminal Court was asked to determine that he had possession of the three AK-47′s by March 7 2016 at least, as part of the case that he was guilty of the murder of Mr Byrne.

She went on to say that: “The court was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt this was the case, this was serious criminal conduct by him accompanied by specific knowledge the guns were used in the Regency attack and had been used to murder David Byrne.”

In summary, Ms Justice Burns ruled that it was not unfair to deny Mr Hutch his costs and refused his application.

Earlier today, lawyers for Mr Hutch argued that he was “vindicated” by the Special Criminal Court after he was acquitted of the murder of Mr Byrne at the Regency Hotel last April and that there was “no strong, valid ground” as to why their client shouldn’t be entitled to his legal costs for the trial.

Mr Hutch’s defence lawyer Brendan Grehan SC alongside Michael D Hourigan BL submitted that it would be unfair if their client, who was not legally aided, was “denied the substantial costs of defending himself from the allegation and particularly unfair if there was any suggestion that he could or would have been charged with other offences”.

Counsel said whilst Mr Hutch was acquitted of the only charge brought against him, it was important to “lay down as a marker” that “others decide what charges are brought”.

Mr Grehan told the non-jury court that the initial decision to prosecute his client for the offence of murder based on secret audio recordings was “a wrong decision”, which had since been vindicated by the Special Criminal Court’s judgment.

“In our submission the prosecution for murder was never warranted on the audio in the context of which there were multiple matters which the court had averred to. In terms of what Mr Hutch knew or didn’t know, there isn’t one single unambiguous admission of involvement of what happened in the Regency through ten hours of unguarded conversation,” he submitted.

The lawyer added that “it certainly was the case” that former Sinn Fein councillor and convicted torturer Jonathan Dowdall had “played his hand” to exert the maximum amount of pressure on the prosecution before giving a statement to gardai on the eve of the trial, which had resulted in a fundamental reappraisal of the defence case.

His side had not unduly elongated the trial and only sought a two-week adjournment after the DPP accepted Dowdall’s plea to the lesser charge.

“One is left wondering what the prosecution case ever was before Jonathan Dowdall came on board. Dowdall coming on board, rather than strengthening what was there in any way, had the opposite effect,” he added.

The lawyer said his lengthy cross-examination of Dowdall was necessary to expose “his true nature” and the issue of his credibility given the allegations he was making against Mr Hutch. The barrister said the stance taken by the defence had been vindicated by the court’s judgement.

Mr Grehan said it did seem extraordinary that the kind of due diligence that resulted in the cross-examination of Dowdall by the defence did not appear to have occurred in the prosecution’s examination of him as a witness.

“The type of due diligence regarding the gathering of information on Dowdall does not seem to have been done prior to him being called as a witness,” he said.

Taking the court’s findings about other matters into account in deciding costs would be contrary to the principle of innocent until proven guilty, and create a danger of guilt by association especially when operating in the context of other family members, counsel said. People can choose their friends but not their family, he stated.

Mr Grehan said Mr Hutch was acquitted of the only charge against him and that the Special Criminal Court had given detailed and very firm findings in their judgement so that no one was left in any doubt as to why it arrived at its conclusion.

Mr Grehan went on to say there was no dispute that the starting point for an award of costs is a person being acquitted and that the actual result of a prosecution is still the most important consideration when regarding the award. He said Mr Hutch on the advice of his lawyers had not made an application for legal aid.

However, Sean Gillane SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), argued that the costs issue comes down to judicial discretion in relation to the facts and circumstances of the case.

He stated that it was not unfair to remind the court of some of the findings it made in relation to Mr Hutch as Mr Grehan had submitted that the court’s verdict “involved some kind of vindication of Gerard Hutch”. “The court’s verdict does not amount to an approbation of him or his conduct,” he argued.

Mr Gillane said he took “full responsibility” for decisions made in the carriage of the prosecution case. There was, he said, an established sequence of Mr Hutch’s association with firearms used to carry out the killing of Mr Byrne.

“It’s not a passing or glancing association. It’s an involved possession and contribution to what the court found to be an orchestrated series of events to have these weapons moved,” he said.

Mr Gillane said it was clearly not the law that a conviction was required for an award of legal costs and that Mr Hutch had previously conducted himself in “such a way as to bring suspicion on himself”.

This investigation involved a number of agencies, the collection of an “incredible” range of material and the assessment of evidence in connection with a number of people.

“This was a prosecution of originally five people, against four of whom convictions were recorded and substantial sentences imposed and in terms of the global picture the prosecution [of Mr Hutch] was absolutely warranted,” he submitted.

The barrister said this was a case where an award of costs should not be exercised in Mr Hutch’s favour and urged the court not to award costs in this matter.

Mr Hutch (60) was seeking an order from the Special Criminal Court providing for his legal costs on the basis of his acquittal by the non-jury court last April.

The hearing on the costs application, which the State opposed, went ahead today on the first day of the Trinity term before the three-judge court.

Last April, following the 52-day trial at the Special Criminal Court, Mr Hutch was acquitted by the three judges of the murder of Mr Byrne and walked from court a free man.

It is believed Mr Hutch left Ireland for Spain last month but it is unknown if the father-of-five has permanently moved back to Spain.

In acquitting Mr Hutch, the Special Criminal Court found that it could not rely on the unsupported evidence of Jonathan Dowdall.

It also found that surveillance audio recordings of a conversation between Dowdall and Mr Hutch did not corroborate Dowdall’s claim that Mr Hutch had confessed to being one of the hitmen at the Regency Hotel where Mr Byrne was shot dead.

Mr Hutch (60), of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, had denied the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on the Swords Road, Whitehall, Dublin 9 on 5 February, 2016.