The Monks Trial, is Getting, most Interesting?

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MONK CASE 

‘No one told you the Regency trial was coming up?’ – Hutch lawyer grills ex-cop over authorised record destruction

  • Published: 19:51, 16 Nov 2022
  • Updated: 19:51, 16 Nov 2022

THE Monk’s lawyer has asked the retired cop who OK’d the destruction of bug records: “No one said to you that the Regency trial is coming up?”

And Gerry Hutch’s counsel, Brendan Grehan SC, queried at the Special Criminal Court whether former Det Supt Ciaran Hoey was aware that his client was being flown back from Spain when he signed the order to get rid of the info.

Gerard 'The Monk' Hutch is accused of David Byrne's murder
Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch is accused of David Byrne’s murderCredit: Paul Sharp – The Sun Dublin
David Byrne died in 2016
David Byrne died in 2016
The Regency Hotel in Dublin
The Regency Hotel in DublinCredit: PA:Press Association

But Mr Hoey replied: “I was of the impression that it wouldn’t be needed for any prosecution.”

The former head of the National Surveillance Unit, said he signed an order on February 7 of this year to have all data connected to a tracker on Jonathan Dowdall’s Toyota Land Cruiser during trips he took to Northern Ireland with Hutch following Byrne’s murder destroyed.

He said it was an Assistant Commissioner who had the final sign-off and she did that on March 23. Mr Hoey said he retired from the Gardai in April.

He told Brendan Grehan SC, for Hutch, that in January 2020 he had ordered a full review of all documents and records kept in accordance with the Criminal Justice Surveillance Act 2009 and anything that wasn’t required was to be disposed of.

He said, according to the Act, records should be destroyed after three years unless they were required for a prosecution or an appeal.

Mr Hoey said: “I decided to conduct a full review of all data held under the Act. This was to improve storage facilities and for the security of the data.”

He said the data was stored in a fire-proof safe. When asked by Mr Grehan what was destroyed, he said: “The original approval, the application for the approval and the data from the tracking device.”

Mr Grehan said: “You do know now they weren’t destroyed? You’ve copies in front of you. So that part of the authorisation wasn’t complied with?”

Mr Hoey said: “I was informed they were destroyed, I gave an order as part of a review of all the data, was it ever used in a prosecution? Was it ever likely to be used? and the decision was made on that basis.”

He continued: “The data obtained from the tracking device had never been used and we had the records for six years and no data from tracking devices had ever been used in a prosecution since the Act was introduced.

“In this case, when Gerard Hutch was on board the car we had members of the NSU who were able to give evidence on oath as to the movements of that vehicle. Anything else would divulge the methodology and tradecraft and would render the information unusable.”

He said he witnessed the Assistant Commissioner signing off the records’ destruction on March 23.

Mr Grehan said: “You knew full well on February 7 when you ordered the destruction and you were fully aware that Gerard Hutch and Jonathan Dowdall and Jonathan Dowdall’s father were facing a trial before this court that had been fixed six months previously?”

Mr Hoey answered: “I wasn’t aware it was included in the evidence proposed in this case.”

LAWYER GRILLING

Counsel added: “For a man who has so little knowledge of many things you took it on yourself to destroy evidence in consultation with your junior administrative staff while there was a prosecution due to proceed?”

Mr Hoey said: “I was complying with the Act, the data was not sought, it was over three years old and I made a decision on those grounds. It was my decision and I stand over that decision. I’m being as honest and open to the court as I can.”

But he agreed with Mr Grehan when he said: “But what it did hold was the movement of the vehicle in Northern Ireland and when the Gardai knew about that, which was evidence NSU members would not be in a position to give.”

Counsel added: “No one said to you that the Regency trial is coming up? Mr Hutch was put on a plane back from Spain for it, there’s five people going on trial. Jonathan Dowdall’s car will feature a lot and the NSU have a prize piece of evidence that will be used?”

HUTCH PLEA

Mr Hoey said: “I was of the impression that it wouldn’t be needed for any prosecution.”

Hutch, 59, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Kinahan cartel thug Byrne at the Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016.

His co-accused Paul Murphy, 61, of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin and Jason Bonney, 51, of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13, have pleaded not guilty to lesser charges. The trial at the Special Criminal Court continues.

Jonathan Dowdall
Jonathan DowdallCredit: Refer to Picture Desk

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