Lawyers in collapsed Patrick Hutch Jnr trial receive estimated €220,000 in fees from State

It has cost the State over an estimated €220,000 (incl Vat) in lawyers' fees from the collapsed trial of Patrick Hutch for the murder of David Byrne.

Last month, Mr Hutch (26) of Champions Avenue, Dublin 1, walked free from the Special Criminal Court after charges against Mr Hutch for the murder of Mr Byrne at the Regency Hotel in February 2016 were dropped.

The case was before the non-jury Special Criminal Court for more than a year but had been halted for an inquiry to be carried out into the tragic death of senior investigating garda, Det Supt Colm Fox.

The Regency Hotel in February 2016
The Regency Hotel in February 2016

There were repeated adjournments since February 2018 in the trial, when notes “authored by” the late Det Supt Fox were handed in to court.

In response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the DPP has confirmed that it paid two counsel €111,674 to prosecute Mr Hutch on behalf of the State in the trial.

Sean Gillane SC led the two member barrister team for the DPP and the DPP doesn’t identify the barristers who acted for the office but does confirm that one barrister received €67,996 in fees with a colleague receiving €43,677.

The two were assisted by a salaried solicitor from the Chief State Solicitor’s Office.

Defence lawyers are paid the same rate as prosecuting lawyers by the State through the Criminal Legal Aid scheme resulting in a doubling of the €110,674 cost to pay for barristers in the case.

The bill for the defence will be even higher as the payments to the solicitor for Mr Hutch would also be funded from the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme.

Along with the estimated €220,000 lawyer bill, the State has also spent large amounts on Garda man-hours investigating the murder of David Byrne.

The killing sparked a murderous feud between the Kinahan-Hutch gangs and the Garda spend on overtime in the Dublin Metropolitan Regional North Central alone since the start of 2016 in seeking to minimise the murder rate from the feud totals €36m.

Last year, the Garda over-time bill for the area totalled €12.39m and this followed a spend of €13.75m in 2017 and €10m in 2016.

Prior to the Regency murder of Mr Byrne in February 2016, the overtime spend by the gardaí in the North Central area totalled €5.24m for 2015.

In separate figures released through the FOI Act, the DPP has confirmed that payments to barristers to prosecute cases in the criminal courts last year totalled €17.39 million - an increase of €1 million or 6% on the €16.4 million paid out in 2017.

The top paid senior counsel was paid €524,649 (incl VAT) with four others receiving payments over €300,000. Ten other un-named senior counsel received fees between €200,000 and €300,000 with eight junior counsel receiving fees between €200,000 and €300,000.

However, the DPP’s FOI unit has decided not to name the barristers and refers to the barristers as Senior Counsel 1, Senior Counsel 2 etc as a result of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) directive.

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