Wednesday 20 March 2019

Murder accused Hutch wins court fight for probe into prison transfer

Patrick Hutch is on remand
Patrick Hutch is on remand

Patrick Hutch, who is accused of the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in 2016, has launched High Court proceedings over his transfer from one prison to another.

Mr Hutch (25), of Champions Avenue, Dublin 1, has pleaded not guilty before the Special Criminal Court to the murder of Mr Byrne (34) at a boxing weigh-in on February 5, 2016.

He also denies unlawful possession of three AK47 assault rifles on the same date.

Lawyers for Mr Hutch, whose trial has been adjourned, were granted leave yesterday by Mr Justice Donald Binchy for an inquiry under Article 40 of the Constitution into the legality of his detention.

The inquiry, which was granted on an ex-parte basis, is against the governor of Cloverhill Prison.

Michael O'Higgins SC, counsel for Mr Hutch, told the court that his client had been on remand in Wheatfield Prison for almost two years.

However, last week, Mr Hutch was transferred to Cloverhill Prison, where he has been placed on a restricted regime under which he is segregated and isolated from other prisoners.

He was moved from Cloverhill to Wheatfield in September 2016 after he suffered a number of high-profile bereavements when members of his family were killed, but was again transferred to Cloverhill.


At Wheatfield he had been housed on a landing where he had been able to associate and mix with other prisoners known to him.

While his regime there had been restricted, he and the other inmates on the landing were able to use the prison gym and exercise yard daily.

Mr O'Higgins told the court that no written reason had been given for the decision to move his client without warning.

He had been informed orally that the move was due to another prisoner taking High Court proceedings, as a result of which remand prisoners were being taken out of Wheatfield.

Counsel said it was accepted that the order under which Mr Hutch had been detained was lawful and that the courts should be slow to interfere with the running of a prison.

However, Mr Hutch's transfer was disproportionate and motivated by irrelevant considerations.

Mr O'Higgins said the transfer had brought his client's case into a category where an inquiry was merited owing to exceptional circumstances where he found himself isolated.

He told the court that Mr Hutch was a remand prisoner who had not been convicted of any offence and his detention had to be humane and proportionate.

Judge Binchy, who directed that an inquiry take place, adjourned the proceedings until today's vacation sitting.

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