herald

Sunday 26 March 2017

Regency Hotel attack suspect 'is dying in hospital', court told

Kevin Murray is wanted in connection with last year’s attack
Kevin Murray is wanted in connection with last year’s attack

A man fighting extradition over his alleged role in last year's Regency Hotel shooting is dying in hospital, a court has heard.

Kevin Murray's motor neurone disease is irreversible and deteriorating at such a rapid rate that he is unlikely to ever stand trial on charges linked to the killing of David Byrne, his lawyers argued yesterday.

"The active matter under consideration now is whether he be marked not suitable for resuscitation," his barrister Desmond Fahy told a court in Belfast.

Murray (46) was detained at his home in Strabane, Co Tyrone, last September under a European Arrest Warrant issued by authorities here.

He is wanted in connection with the attack at the Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016.

Feud

Father-of-two Byrne (34) from Crumlin, south Dublin, was shot dead when masked men dressed as gardai opened fire at the hotel.

Byrne's killing ignited a deadly feud between members of the rival Kinahan and Hutch gangs.

Murray is being sought over alleged offences of murder, possession of a firearm with intent, and possession of a firearm in suspicious circumstances.

It was previously claimed that he had stayed overnight at the hotel in preparation for his alleged role in the shooting.

Gardai investigating the killing allege Murray can be clearly identified on CCTV footage and photographic evidence.

Another man, Patrick Hutch (24), of Champions Avenue in Dublin, has already been charged with murder.

He is alleged to have acted with the Co Tyrone man as part of the same gang.

Murray remains in hospital after being diagnosed as suffering from motor neurone disease - a condition that progressively damages parts of the nervous system.

A judge at Belfast Recorders' Court is assessing his fitness to stand trial, along with his physical and mental health, before any decision on whether to order his extradition.

Counsel for the Irish State contended that the question should be dealt with by the courts in Dublin.

However, Mr Fahy claimed any trial will not take place before 2018.

The barrister revealed that his client now depends on a tube for feeding and cannot be discharged back to prison.

"My most recent instructions are that he has received a consultation from his doctor dealing with end of life care," he told the court.

Judge Patricia Smyth heard Murray is due to give a response within days to the issue of if he should be resuscitated.

"The court will have to make a determination on whether there can ever be a situation where this man is placed on trial for these offences," said Mr Fahy.

Irreversible

"His condition is permanent and irreversible, it's the considered view of Mr Murray's treating physician there will be no recovery from the motor neurone disease."

It was contended that any extradition may not just be unjust and oppressive, but also potentially inhumane and degrading.

"This is a man confined to bed, unable to move any upper limbs, unable to feed himself," Mr Fahy added.

"His family want to spend as much time with him as possible at the hospital in Belfast before matters reach what appears an inevitable conclusion."

Proceedings were adjourned to give Irish authorities time to decide if they want to instruct medical experts to carry out assessments.

"If the requesting state chooses not to take that opportunity I will require to hear oral evidence so I'm not second guessing the material in the reports," the judge said.

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