An inquiry into the death of the lead investigating garda in the Regency Hotel shooting case is expected to be completed by the end of October.
Lawyers for Patrick Hutch (aged 26), who is accused of murdering David Byrne (aged 34) at the Regency Hotel in Dublin over two years ago, said their client was “frustrated” by the ongoing delays but accepted the process had to be gone through.
Mr Hutch’s trial was adjourned until today to allow for a progress report to be outlined to the Special Criminal Court.
This report concerned the analysis of electronic data as part of an inquiry into the death of Detective Superintendent Colm Fox.
The three-judge court heard today that the expected completion date of the investigation will be between the middle and end of October at the latest.
Det. Supt Fox was found dead on the evening of February 10 in his office at Ballymun garda station. His official firearm was recovered at the scene, foul play was not suspected and it was treated as a personal tragedy. The trial was stalled at the time over the disclosure by the prosecution of emails between four gardaí.
Mr Hutch of Champions Avenue, Dublin 1, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in Dublin on February 5, 2016.
He also denies possessing three AK47 assault rifles in connection with the shooting.
Senior prosecuting counsel Sean Gillane SC told the non-jury court today that the “IT end of the investigation” was in sight. One of the devices had been accessed, he said, and it had generated a “fairly significant amount of material”.
The court previously heard that a mobile phone and two USB devices needed to be forensically examined.
Mr Gillane also said today that further emails have been examined and their analysis was near completion.
“In consequence, the expected completion date of the investigation is the middle to the end of October at the latest,” he said.
In reply, Michael O’Higgins SC for Mr Hutch said this was frustrating for his client but the process had to be gone through. “We have to accept that the State is doing it at as quick a pace as it can,” he added.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, said the delay was unfortunate for Mr Hutch as he was the one on trial here.
The judge asked Mr O’Higgins if “some form of hearing” would be required when this process is completed. “I think so,” replied Mr O’Higgins.
Mr Justice Hunt said the court would have two weeks available for the case in December if this was required. “It has to be given priority over everything else. It may be that nothing comes of it,” said the judge.
Mr O’Higgins said he imagined that the defence will make representations to the DPP when the full report is made available to both parties.
Mr Justice Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Patricia Ryan and Judge Ann Ryan, remanded Mr Hutch in custody until October 8, when the case is listed for mention again. This is the eighth adjournment to date.
The trial was adjourned for a month in February after notes written by the late superintendent were handed into the court and read by the three judges.
Two weeks earlier, the trial had been adjourned when the defence had requested to be provided with copies of emails exchanged between four gardaí involved in the case.
The court has previously heard that the shooting took place during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel, when a man dressed as a woman and another wearing a flat cap, armed with handguns, followed by three people dressed in tactical-style garda uniforms and carrying assault rifles, raided the venue.
It is the prosecution's case that Mr Hutch was the man dressed as a woman and that, although he did not shoot Mr Byrne, he was part of a "shared intention" to commit the offence.