Gerry Hutch seen leaving Jonathan Dowdall’s house on motorbike week after Regency shooting, court told

An undercover garda said he saw Mr Hutch driving away from the home of Dowdall

Evidence was continuing today in the trial of Gerard Hutch and two other men charged over the gangland killing of David Byrne

Andrew PhelanSunday World

Murder accused Gerard Hutch was seen leaving former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall’s house on a motorbike a week after the Regency Hotel shooting, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

An undercover garda said he saw Mr Hutch driving away from the home of Dowdall, who has since been jailed for helping the crime organisation behind the murder of David Byrne.

Evidence was continuing today in the trial of Gerard Hutch and two other men charged over the gangland killing.

David Byrne (33), a Kinahan gang member, was shot dead when three assault rifle-wielding masked gunmen, disguised as ERU gardai, stormed the Regency in north Dublin along with an armed man dressed as a woman in a blonde wig, and another in a flat cap.

The February 5, 2016 attack on a boxing weigh-in event happened as a bloody feud raged between the capital's Kinahan and Hutch gangs.

Mr Hutch (59), of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin denies murdering Mr Byrne. Paul Murphy (59) of Cherry Avenue, Swords and Jason Bonney (50) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, deny facilitating the murder by providing the criminal organisation that carried it out with access to vehicles.

Four surveillance gardai gave evidence to the court last week and more were taking the stand today. By court order, they are only being identified by assigned initials, to protect current and future covert operations, and their safety.

Before the trial began, co-accused Jonathan Dowdall (44) and his father Patrick (65) were jailed when they pleaded guilty to facilitating Mr Byrne’s murder by making a room at the Regency available to the perpetrators by booking it.

Today, Garda S said he was on duty outside the home of Jonathan Dowdall at 6.40pm on February 12, 2016. He saw a black Honda motorcycle drive through the gateway, turn left and head in the direction of Ashtown, past the garda.

He recognised the rider as Gerard Hutch, he said; he was wearing all black bike gear and a dark helmet with the visor up. The bike did a u-turn and drove up the bus lane in the direction of the city centre, as far as Cabra garda station, where he lost sight of him.

In cross-examination, Mr Hutch’s barrister Brendan Grehan asked the garda why he had taken notes of this when other surveillance witnesses had not.

“I knew it was an important sighting,” Gda S said, adding that he took a note at the first available opportunity. He agreed with Mr Grehan that what usually happened was information would be relayed by radio to colleagues and one would make a report. He could not remember the date the operation started.

Grada BZ said he was on duty at Killygordon, Co Donegal on February 20, 2016. The prosecution alleges on this date, Jonathan Dowdall and Gerard Hutch travelled north to a meeting with IRA member Shane Rowan in the aftermath of the Regency attack.

The court has already heard how Rowan, from Forest Park, Killygordon, was later intercepted in Co Meath, on March 9, 2016, as he drove north with three AK47s used in the Regency shooting.

Gda BZ said today he saw Dowdall’s Toyota Landcruiser parked opposite a house at Forest Park at 11am on February 20. It was beside a silver Renault Megane Scenic, both stationary.

At 12.30pm, a silver Volkswagen Passat left the estate. The Megane left at 2.35pm with two males in the vehicle. Later, at 7.22pm, Gda BZ was on duty in Co Louth when he saw the Landcruiser heading south bound on the M1. The driver appeared to be on his own. Gda BZ told Mr Grehan he was not aware of the Landcruiser stopping at the Quays in Newry or a BP service station that day. He was driving when the Landcruiser overtook him driving south at Dromad, Co Louth at 7.22pm and that was the first time he had seen the vehicle actually moving.

Garda CZ said he was on duty in the Co Louth area at 11.36pm on March 7, 2017. The court previously heard on this date, Dowdall allegedly went to Northern Ireland with Mr Hutch for another meeting with republicans.

Gda CZ said he saw Dowdall’s Landcruiser approach Ardee, Co Louth from the north direction at 11.36pm. There were two males on board - Dowdall and Gerard Hutch, who were known to him. Mr Hutch had a black “monkey hat or beanie hat” on.

In cross examination, Mr Grehan said the court had previously heard 3.10pm was the time given for the Landcruiser leaving the jurisdiction that day. He asked CZ if he knew what time it re-entered the jurisdiction.

Gda CZ did not know and when asked if there was a tracker on the Landcruiser, he said he was going to “claim privilege on that.”

Garda V said he saw Gerard Hutch in his BMW leaving the back of Kealy’s pub near Dublin Airport at 12.15am on March 8, 2016.

He was followed by Dowdall driving his Landcruiser and they drove towards the M1. He could not say when the Landcruiser crossed the border.

Garda DN said at 9.49pm on March 9, 2019, he saw Shane Rowan walk into the post office at Main Street, Ballybofey, Co Donegal, wearing a blue hooded jacket and jeans.

At 11.39am, he saw Rowan at Great Gas service station, Ballybofey, putting fuel into a Vauxhall before leaving three minutes later.

Garda BK said he saw a man from Forest Park, Killygordon, walk through Killygordon at 10.28pm on March 9, 2016, wearing a blue hooded jacket and jeans. He went into Killygordon Car Sales. He saw the man leaving the car sales at 10.39am in a grey Vauxhall Insignia.

He saw the man driving the same car at `12.20pm from Ballybofey through Killygordon towards Castlefinn.

In cross-examination, Gda BK told barrister Michael Hourigan, for Mr Hutch, he did not take notes but remembered the “very specific times.” He said he called out what he saw “as he saw it” to a colleague who took it down.

Garda BU said she was on duty on March 9 when she saw Shane Rowan walk down the escalator at Clarehall Shopping Centre, Malahide Road, north Dublin. He was wearing a dark jacket and carrying a long cardboard box. Rowan went into Carphone Warehouse at 3.15pm and at 5.03pm he was front seat passenger in a silver Yaris. The Yaris was in the outbound carriageway of the Malahide Road beyond the Darndale Roundabout.

She told Mr Hourigan the registration number she gave was clear in her memory when she made her statement the following day.

Garda DI was on duty on March 9 when he saw the Insignia parked unattended in the Clarehall Shopping Centre car park. At 3.54pm, Shane Rowan exited from the door near Kentucky Fried Chicken into the underground car park, carrying a box.

At 5.05pm, the Yaris was stopped at the lights at the junction of the Malahide Road and Greencastle Road. The car was driven by Patrick Hutch from Champions’ Avenue in central Dublin and Rowan was in the passenger seat, DI said.

The Yaris turned left on the Malahide Road in the direction of the Hilton Hotel and DI saw it stopped at the lights at the hotel before continuing towards the city.

Gda DI saw Shane Rowan walking on the footpath on Greencastle Road at 6.26pm, in the direction of the Malahide Road. He turned left onto Greencastle Parade at Bargaintown, while 100 metres behind him, the Yaris was being driven slowly by Patrick Hutch.

At 6.30pm, the Insignia driven by Rowan was stopped at the lights at the Greencastle Road/ Malahide Road junction, alongside the Yaris.

He saw Patrick Hutch, driving the Yaris, wind down the window before turning right toward the city. Rowan’s Insignia turned left and proceeded to the R139, turning south bound onto the M50, taking the Finglas exit and turning right onto the N2. He drove northbound onto the M2 at Ashbourne and pulled into the hard shoulder at 6.55pm.

Garda T said he was on duty at 2.45pm on March 7, 2016 at the approach to the M1 toll plaza near Drogheda when he saw Dowdall’s Landcruiser driving northbound.

He said Jonathan Dowdall was the driver and Gerard Hutch, wearing a dark beanie hat pulled down on his forehead was passenger.

In north Dublin at 4.40pm on March 9, he saw the grey Insignia parked up in the car park at Mattress Mick’s on Newtown Avenue.

At 5.10pm that day, a grey Cordoba drove down the road before returning and parking at Mattress Mick’s at 5.35pm. The driver got out and got into the driver’s seat of the Insignia, then drove it towards Greencastle Parade.

At 6.25pm Gda T saw Shane Rowan walking up Greencastle Parade towards Iceland. Patsy Hutch (61) was driving the Yaris there at the same pace as Rowan was walking, before passing him out. Rowan then got into the Insignia’s driver seat.

In cross-examination, Gda T told Mr Hourigan he had about 15 to 20 minutes' notice about the approach of the Landcruiser in Drogheda on March 7. He did not think Mr Hutch had been identified as passenger at that stage. Asked if he was identifying Mr Hutch or confirming his identity, he said he thought it was to confirm it.

Mr Hourigan asked if he was aware there was an audio device or any surveillance device in the Landcruiser at the time.

“I wasn’t aware there was anything in it or on it,” he replied.

Garda AC said he saw the Insignia enter the Iceland carpark at 6.20pm on March 9. The driver got and got into the passenger side of a parked Primera, which drove off.

10 minutes later, at 6.30pm, Shane Rowan got into the Insignia in the Iceland car park and drove it out.

Garda Q said he was on duty outside Ashbourne, Co Meath at 6.55pm on March 9 when he saw the Insignia pull into the left just past the turn for Curragha and Tayto Park. It pulled back out into traffic almost immediately and travelled north towards Slane before it was stopped by other gardai.

Some 15 present and past members of the garda National Surveillance Unit have now been called in evidence with more expected to testify tomorrow.

The trial continues before Ms Justice Tara Burns, Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.

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