Possible use of tracking device on car in which Gerard Hutch traveled to Key North issue at trial, defense says – The Irish Times

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Gerard Hutch’s defense team said during his murder trial at the Special Criminal Court that it is “very important” that Gardaí deployed a tracking device on a jeep belonging to the former Sinn Féin adviser, Jonathan Dowdall, and used it illegally while the vehicle was in Northern Ireland.

Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch (59), last of the Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, denies the murder of Kinahan cartel member David Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016 .

The Special Criminal Court has previously viewed CCTV footage of what the state says is Gerard Hutch making two separate trips to Northern Ireland with Jonathan Dowdall on February 20 and March 7, 2016.

In his opening remarks, prosecuting Sean Gillane SC said it was in the state that Hutch had asked Dowdall to set up a meeting with Provisional Republicans to mediate or resolve the Hutch- Kinahan because of threats against the defendant’s family and friends. Dowdall drove Gerard Hutch to meet with the Republicans on Feb. 20, 2016, he said.

The state also said in its opening remarks that Dowdall drove Hutch north to a second meeting at Strabane in County Tyrone on March 7, 2016, and that their vehicle was being watched.

Today PSNI Detective Constable Laura McClelland told Prosecuting Maddie Grant BL that she was tasked with obtaining CCTV from the Maldron Hotel Belfast International Airport from 7 March 2016 between 5.15pm and 6:16 p.m. and that it had received the requested images on April 1, 2016. .

CCTV footage was previously shown in court on the afternoon of March 7, where a guard witness said Dowdall’s jeep was seen at the Maldron Hotel in Adergrove in Belfast at 5.35pm that evening and Gerard Hutch exits the vehicle. The garda witness said Gerard Hutch went to the counter, spoke to the receptionist and received a wallet at 5:42 p.m. He pays the parking ticket and heads for the Land Cruiser. The jeep then starts.

Inspired

In cross-examination today, defense attorney Brendan Grehan SC, for Hutch, explained to the witness that her statement did not tell her how she was inspired to conduct the CCTV investigations. The witness stated that he was commissioned on March 30 by his detective sergeant.

“Am I to understand that you were instructed to search various specific locations for very specific items to find out where a particular vehicle might be spotted?” asked Mr. Grehan. The witness said she did.

Mr Grehan asked the detective if she could tell him who had requested the original CCTV footage. “I wouldn’t know about that, the only person who charged me was Detective Sergeant Maxwell,” she said.

“So you don’t know why you were asked to do this, who asked or why?” urged Mr. Grehan. “That was my task,” she replied.

“The only fruit so to speak was what you got from the Maldron Hotel?” He asked. The detective agreed with that.

“You don’t know how Detective Sergeant Maxwell came to ask you to do this?” asked Mr. Grehan. The witness said she was not.

When the witness withdrew, Mr. Grehan asked if he could be allowed to say a few words to the court.

Beginning his address to the three judges, the attorney said the court would have noted that the defense had questioned various witnesses “some to a greater or lesser extent” trying to establish whether Jonathan Dowdall’s Toyota Land Cruiser had been followed across the border into Northern Ireland, where the defense had “some progress”.

However, Mr Grehan said the defense had “not moved forward” on whether a tracker had been used on the Dowdall-owned Land Cruiser.

“Of great importance”

“We say it is very important that a tracker has been deployed by the gardaí for use outside the state, it is illegal and in violation of the law,” he said. He said the prosecution relied on CCTV footage in particular of a BP petrol station in Newry and The Quays shopping center in Newry on February 20, 2016.

“We have a very strong interest in knowing how a specific investigation could be carried out in a very short time after what happened with this particular vehicle at these particular places. We have had very little success with witnesses to date. We don’t get the person, we get the person behind the person,” he continued.

He said the person charged by someone to retrieve the CCTV is called by the state but not “the person charging it.” Mr. Grehan said Hutch’s attorney had been writing to the state since last June seeking this information “in terms of emails and notes” to reflect how these investigations had been carried out.

“We don’t have much,” he added. It may be, he said, that there is “nothing left” or that some people, for their own reasons, are not providing the information because they maintain a claim of privilege as to whether a tracker was used or if Garda staff tracked the Toyota Land Cruiser north.

In summary, the lawyer said he would continue to ask the witnesses the questions even if it meant that the trial would not be “very truncated”.

Mr Grehan said this would be very important in relation to the tracking device deployed in Northern Ireland, but even more important would be whether a bug eavesdropping was deployed outside the state, which would happen in due course during the trial.

“If that means we’re going to have this back and forth to find information about the hoof, we’ll do it that way. It would be a lot easier if we knew where we were and if this issue was dealt with squarely instead of subterfuge, where we get a tiny bit of the picture,” he pointed out.

“Method to Our Madness”

Mr. Grehan agreed with Mrs. Justice Tara Burns, who was presiding, that he was not making a request but simply exposing his booth or doing what he said the late Mr. Justice Paul Carney called “a groan”. “There is a method to our madness,” he said.

The judge said these witnesses were in the evidence book because they had collected the CCTV footage and the defense was entitled to all relevant information. She said Hutch’s attorney requested the information and an investigation was conducted as early as June.

In response, Mr. Gillane, prosecuting, said the issues were now neatly blended and at a time that suited Mr. Grehan. He said he was told when he viewed the CCTV footage that he was on trial and it would never have occurred to him “in a million years” of ” call the guy behind the guy”.

Judge Burns said the reality is that a problem eventually arose over what Mr Grehan has been soliciting over the past two days.

“We had a flash from Mr. Grehan today in relation to what might be at stake. Ultimately there will be an argument in relation to that,” she said.

Mr Byrne, of Crumlin, was shot dead at the hotel in Whitehall, Dublin 9 after five men, three dressed as gardaí armed in tactical gear and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, stormed the building during the attack, which hosted a boxing weigh-in at the time.

The victim was shot by two of the tactical assailants and more bullets were fired at his head and body. Mr Byrne died of catastrophic injuries sustained from six shots fired from a high-velocity weapon to the head, face, stomach, hand and legs.

Hutch’s two co-defendants – Paul Murphy (59), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin and Jason Bonney (50), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13 have pleaded not guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of David Byrne allowing motorized access on February 5, 2016.

The trial continues Thursday before Madam Justice Burns sits with Justice Sarah Berkeley and Justice Grainne Malone.

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