Judgment reserved in Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch challenge over Special Criminal Court

Hutch and former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall claim they should not be tried in the court on charges of murder arising out of the Regency Hotel attack
Judgment reserved in Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch challenge over Special Criminal Court

Judgment has been reserved in cases brought by two men, including Gerry "The Monk" Hutch, claiming they should not be tried in the non-jury Special Criminal Court (SCC) on charges of murder arising out of the Regency Hotel attack in 2016.

Hutch (58), who was extradited from Spain, and former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall (44), of Navan Road, Dublin, are both charged with the murder of David Byne (33) at the hotel in Whitehall, Dublin, on February 5th, 2016.

They brought judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the DPP, the Minister for Justice, the Attorney General, Ireland and Dail Éireann, while Seanad Éireann is also a respondent in the Hutch case.

They claimed the decision to try them in the non-jury three judge SCC breached their fundamental rights, including the right to a fair trial. They claimed, among other things, they should be tried before a judge and jury.

The respondents deny their claims.

Arguments

Following a three-day hearing of legal submissions on behalf of the parties, Mr Justice Anthony Barr said he would give his judgment as soon as possible.

Lawyers for the two men argued that nearly 50 years since the proclamation setting up the current SCC it has effectively become a permanent fixture and the 1939 Offences Against the State Act, setting up the court, does not provide for that.

If the State wants a permanent court, it should introduce legislation permitting it to do so, they said. The 1939 Act meant there was a temporal limit on the SCC and it was not designed for the setting up of a permanent court.

In submissions on Thursday on behalf of the Dail and the Seanad, Francis Kieran BL said the SCC was set up on a conditional rather than on a temporary or permanent basis.

The case on behalf of the two men had not been made out, he said.  The proper meaning of the 1939 Act was that the proclamation setting up the SCC was subject to annulment by the democratic electors and it was therefore nonjusticiable, he said.

No case was stateable against Dail Éireann and much less against the Seanad, he said.

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