Patrick Hutch walks free as Regency Hotel murder charge dropped
State alleged Dubliner present at time of 2016 shooting in which David Byrne (34) was killed
Patrick Hutch is to walk free from the Special Criminal Court after charges against him for the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in Dublin were dropped by the State. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.
Patrick Hutch has walked free from the Special Criminal Court after charges against him for the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in Dublin were dropped by the State.
Mr Hutch (26) of Champions Avenue, Dublin 1, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Byrne (34) at the Drumcondra venue on February 5th, 2016. The non-jury Special Criminal Court heard that the shooting took place during a boxing weigh-in.
A man dressed as a woman and another wearing a flat cap, armed with handguns, followed by three people dressed in tactical-style garda uniforms, carrying assault rifles, entered the venue.
It was the State’s case that Mr Hutch was the man dressed as a woman and that, although he did not shoot Mr Byrne, he was part of a “shared intention” to commit the offence. Mr Hutch had also denied possessing three AK-47 assault rifles in connection with the shooting.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) entered a nolle prosequi against Mr Hutch on Wednesday meaning the State will not be proceeding with the charges against him, and he is free to walk from court.
Counsel for the DPP, Seán Gillane SC, said the the State was no longer in a position to lead evidence on a number of matters “sadly” as a result of the death of the lead investigating garda on the case, Det Supt Colm Fox.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding in the three-judge court, said Mr Hutch could be “discharged” in light of the State’s application.
“Further comment is not necessary,” the judge said.
Counsel for Mr Hutch, Michael O’Higgins SC, said his client had pleaded not guilty and the case was being “keenly contested”, which remained his client’s position.
“I note his (Mr Gillane’s) observation that the passing of Det Supt Fox has brought about this situation today and I’ve nothing further to add,” Mr O’Higgins said.
Members of the Byrne family stood up and called the situation “disgraceful” and a “farce”. They said there was “no justice in Ireland” and claimed that gardaí could not “solve this case but could solve all the others”.
They told members of the media sitting in front of them that “you can put that in the paper”. One Byrne family member said: “you’re afraid of the Hutches, that’s what you are”.
Moments after being discharged from the court, Mr Hutch left the Criminal Courts of Justice building in Dublin and departed on a motorbike that was waiting outside.
Det Supt Fox was found dead on the evening of February 10th last year in his office at Ballymun Garda station. His official firearm was recovered at the scene, foul play was not suspected and it was treated as a personal tragedy. The trial had been stalled at the time over the disclosure by the prosecution of emails between four gardaí.
Notes written by the late superintendent were handed into the court and read by the three judges.
The court was subsequently told that a report into the death of Det Supt Fox was being prepared. This report concerned the analysis of electronic data - a mobile phone, two USB devices and a laptop computer.