Gardaí recovered recordings from a tracking device deployed on the jeep of former Sinn Féin adviser Jonathan Dowdall, which was reportedly destroyed, the Regency murder trial heard.
Sean Gillane SC, prosecutor, told the Special Criminal Court on Monday that the Garda National Cybercrime Bureau had carried out a “fairly extensive” operation since last week, in which a securely stored desktop computer which had been listed for destruction had been examined.
Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch (59), last of the Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, is tried in court without a jury charged with the murder of Kinahan cartel member David Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016. Mr Hutch denies the charges.
On Monday, Mr Gillane added: ‘During the examination of this device, it appears that a working copy of the material in question has been located and is available for examination.’
He said this was confirmed to him on Sunday evening and that he hoped to be able to provide the defense with additional information later Monday morning.
In response, Brendan Grehan SC, defending Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch, said it seemed ‘what was lost is now found’ and asked the three-judge panel for some time to decide how to proceed. .
The Garda Deputy Commissioner for Crime and Security was due to give evidence on Monday morning. However, Mr Gillane said he was not yet able to call Assistant Comm Orla McPartlin as the trial was adjourned until 2pm.
Mr Grehan told the court last Tuesday that gardaí had destroyed the records of a tracking device which had been placed on Dowdall’s Toyota Land Cruiser jeep when he allegedly drove murder accused Mr Hutch north to a meeting with Republicans following the Regency shooting.
The lawyer said ‘disturbingly’ the notes were destroyed by gardaí after his client was arrested and charged with the murder of Mr Byrne and the destruction of the tracker records was authorized on February 7 this year .
Mr Grehan said the destruction of those records was a ‘real problem’ and he did not accept the state’s claim that it was done in accordance with the Criminal Justice Oversight Act of 2009 .
Last week, the former head of the National Surveillance Unit (NSU), who signed the authorization for the destruction of the tracker’s recordings on February 7, said he had not consulted the main investigator of the investigation into the Regency hotel murder or the director of public services. Prosecutions (DPP) when he destroyed recordings of a tracking device deployed on Dowdall’s Toyota Land Cruiser.
The data, it was said, had “gone forever” with no possibility of recreating the destroyed records.
Retired Detective Inspector Ciaran Hoey said last Wednesday that he conducted a review of all information held by the NSU in early 2020 to ensure it complied with the 2009 Privacy Act. surveillance.
Data records older than three years that were not needed for prosecution or appeal have been destroyed to improve data storage and security, he said.
Mr Hoey, who was a Detective Inspector at NSU in 2016, said he did not believe the records would be used in the prosecution when he ordered their destruction just months before the start of the murder trial of the Regency Hotel last month.
He also said that data from a tracking device to prove the location of a vehicle, person or thing at a given time had never been used as evidence in the history of the monitoring law.
Further, he said the best evidence was the sightings of NSU members coupled with the CCTV footage and that was what should be used in this trial.
During cross-examination, Mr Hoey said Assistant Comm McPartlin “signed” the destruction order on March 23. On that day, a total of 87 orders were signed with information provided on a spreadsheet regarding relevant dates and tracking details for Dowdall’s jeep.
Mr Hoey said he did not advise Assistant Comm McPartlin that the ongoing trial was continuing, or that the vehicle was linked to Dowdall or Mr Hutch.