Hutch takes action over prison move

Patrick Hutch, who is accused of the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel more than two years ago, has launched High Court proceedings over his transfer from one prison facility to another.

Hutch takes action over prison move

By Aodhan O Faolain

Patrick Hutch, who is accused of the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel more than two years ago, has launched High Court proceedings over his transfer from one prison facility to another.

Hutch, 25, of Champions Avenue, Dublin 1, has pleaded not guilty before the Special Criminal Court to the murder of Byrne, 34, at a boxing weigh-in at the former Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016. He also denies unlawful possession of three AK47 assault rifles on the same date.

Lawyers for Hutch, whose trial currently stands 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, for Hutch, said his client had been on remand in Wheatfield Prison for almost two years, before being transferred last week 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, as members of his family were killed.

At Wheatfield, he was housed on a prison landing, where he had been able to associate and mix with other prisoners known to him. While his regime at Wheatfield had been restricted, he and the other inmates on the landing were able to use the prison gym and the 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 having taken 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, namely unrelated proceedings taken by another party.

Mr O’Higgins said the transfer had brought his client’s case into a category where an inquiry into his detention was merited due 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 Wednesday’s vacation sitting of the court.

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