Ex-Sinn Féin councillor launches appeal against Special Criminal Court murder trial

Jonathan Dowdall (44) and Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch (58) are both charged with the murder of David Byrne (33) at Regency Hotel in Whitehall, Dublin on February 5th, 2016
Ex-Sinn Féin councillor launches appeal against Special Criminal Court murder trial

Peter Doyle

Former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall has launched a two-pronged appeal against the High Court's refusal to overturn a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to try him at the Special Criminal Court (SCC) in connection with the Regency Hotel murder.

Dowdall (44), of Navan Road, Dublin, and Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch (58) – who was extradited from Spain last September – are both charged with the murder of David Byrne (33) at the hotel in Whitehall, Dublin, on February 5th, 2016.

They are due to stand trial at the non-jury SCC after losing separate challenges against the DPP’s decision.

Both had claimed in judicial review proceedings at the High Court that any trial before the SCC would be unlawful and in breach of their fundamental rights because the court was operating as a permanent institution after being established on a temporary basis half a century ago.

However, Mr Justice Anthony Barr dismissed both actions, ruling that the legislation challenged was neither temporary nor had any temporal limit. Hutch and Dowdall later sought leave to appeal the High Court judge’s decision directly to the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court

At a Supreme Court hearing on Thursday, a panel consisting of Mr Justice Peter Charleton, Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan reserved judgment in both cases.

At the Court of Appeal on Friday, Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham was told Dowdall, a former Dublin City councillor, was also appealing Mr Justice Barr’s ruling via the three-judge appellate court.

Following a request from Colm Kitson BL, for the Attorney General, the case was adjourned until July 1st, pending the Supreme Court’s decision.

Dowdall and Hutch had originally raised judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Justice, Dáil Éireann, Ireland and the Attorney General. Seanad Éireann was also a respondent in the Hutch case.

In a judgement issued on February 11th, Mr Justice Barr also stated there was no basis in law to prevent the DPP from certifying that Hutch and Dowdall should be tried before the SCC on the charge of murder.

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