The DPP has been ordered by the High Court to provide transcripts to GSOC of the the trial of Patrick Hutch whose prosecution for murder collapsed earlier this year in the wake of the death of the senior investigating garda in the case.
The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) is investigating the case following the collapse of the trial of Mr Hutch for the murder of David Byrne (aged 34) during a boxing match weigh-in at Dublin's Regency Hotel.on February 5, 2016.
Mr Hutch (aged 26) of Champions Avenue, Dublin 1, had pleaded not guilty to murder or to possession of three assault rifles. He had been held in custody after failing to get bail.
He was freed on February 20 when the DPP's counsel told the Special Criminal Court the prosecution "was not in a position to lead evidence on a number of evidential topics" and a "nolle prosequi" ending the case was being entered.
Following that collapse of the trial, the GSOC began an investigation into the matter under powers provided to it by the 2005 Garda Siochana Act.
In an application before Mr Justice Anthony Barr today, the GSOC sought orders for the release of the trial and bail hearing transcripts and exhibits.
The application was made against the Special Criminal Court No.1, where the trial took place. The Garda Commissioner, the State and Mr Hutch were notice parties. The DPP takes on the role of the respondent when an application is made in a case such as this.
Remy Farrell SC, for GSOC, said his client met the legal test for establishing an interest in the trial proceedings. The rules of the Special Criminal Court, which are "relatively terse", do not relate to orders on transcripts, he said.
During the Patrick Hutch trial, identification evidence was offered by two gardaí which was ruled admissible following legal argument during the case. The trial was due to recommence in February 2018 when "certain tragic events occurred resulting in the death of a senior garda," counsel said.
Detective Superintendent Colm Fox, senior investigator in the case, was found dead at Ballymun Garda Station on February 10, 2018. His official firearm was recovered at the scene. Foul play was not suspected and it was treated as a personal tragedy.
The Garda Commissioner referred the matter to the GSOC but it was complicated by the fact there were ongoing criminal proceedings and it was only after the entering of the nolle prosequi a year later that the formal investigation began.
Mr Farrell said the GSOC was looking for the trial transcripts so that it has the best evidence available for its investigation. It was also seeking a permissive order in relation to the exhibits in the case such as TV footage allowing the GSOC to take up the exhibits should it be required.
The court heard the DPP wanted to hold off on the issue of exhibits and if the GSOC is unable to understand part of the transcript without them then there should be no difficulty in taking them up. Lawyers for the notice parties had no objection to the GSOC application.
Mr Justice Barr was satisfied it was appropriate to grant the reliefs sought by the GSOC in order that it can carry out a full and proper investigation. As well as ordering the release of the trial transcript, he gave the GSOC permission to access and, if necessary copy, the exhibits and also ordered release of transcripts of the recording of the bail application hearing.
He gave liberty to apply to the court should there be any disagreement about access to the exhibits.