Ex-SF councillor opposes decision to hold murder trial at Special Criminal Court

Jonathan Dowdall and Gerry Hutch charged with killing David Byrne at Regency Hotel

Former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall has launched a two-pronged appeal against the High Court's refusal to overturn a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to try him for the murder at the Special Criminal Court.

Mr Dowdall (44), of Navan Road, Dublin, and Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch (58) – who was extradited from Spain last September – are both charged with the murder of David Byrne (33) at the Regency Hotel in Whitehall, Dublin, on February 5, 2016. They are due to stand trial at the non-jury Special Criminal Court (SCC) after losing separate challenges against the DPP's decision.

Both had claimed in judicial review proceedings at the High Court that any trial before the SCC would be unlawful and in breach of their fundamental rights because the court was operating as permanent institution after being established on a temporary basis half a century ago.

But Mr Justice Anthony Barr dismissed both actions, ruling that the legislation challenged was neither temporary nor had any temporal limit.


Mr Hutch and Mr Dowdall later sought leave to appeal the High Court judge's decision directly to the Supreme Court.

At a Supreme Court hearing on Thursday, a panel consisting of Mr Justice Peter Charleton, Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe, and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan reserved judgment in both cases.

At the Court of Appeal on Friday, Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham was told Mr Dowdall, a former Dublin City councillor, was also appealing Mr Justice Barr's ruling via the three-judge appellate court.

Following a request from Colm Kitson BL, for the Attorney General, the case was adjourned until July 1st, pending the Supreme Court’s decision.

The two accused had originally raised judicial reviews against the Minister for Justice, Dáil Éireann, Ireland and the Attorney General. Seanad Eireann was also a respondent in the Hutch case.

In a judgement issued on February 11th, Mr Justice Barr also stated that there was no basis in law to prevent the DPP from certifying that Mr Hutch and Mr Dowdall should be tried before the SCC on the charge of murder.