David Byrne (34), a Kinahan gang member, was shot dead when attackers including armed, masked men disguised as garda ERU members stormed the Regency
Hutch (59) formally pleaded not guilty to the 2016 killing when he was arraigned at the Special Criminal Court today.
Two other men pleaded not guilty to facilitating the murder by providing access to vehicles to the criminal organisation that carried it out.
Their trial at the three-judge, non-jury court, which got underway this morning amid heightened security, is expected to last around 12 weeks.
David Byrne (34), a Kinahan gang member, was shot dead when attackers including armed, masked men disguised as garda ERU members stormed the Regency and opened fire during a boxing weigh-in on February 5, 2016.
The raid took place as a bloody feud raged between the capital's Kinahan and Hutch crime gangs.
Hutch, of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin denies murdering the father-of-two.
Co-accused Paul Murphy (59) of Cherry Avenue, Swords and Jason Bonney (50) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin deny facilitating the murder by providing the perpetrators with access to vehicles.
Today, Hutch, dressed in a navy blazer and light blue open-necked shirt and wearing a pair of black headphones, stood with his hands clasped in front of him and said "not guilty" when the murder charge was read out by the court registrar.
Mr Bonney and Mr Murphy then stood and replied “not guilty” in turn.
Prosecutor Sean Gillane then began his opening speech.
Mr Gillane said in his opening address that a weigh-in was taking place at the Regency on the afternoon of February 5, 2016 in advance of a boxing event billed as the “clash of the clans” due to be held the following day.
It was promoted by boxing manager Frank Warren’s Queensbury Promotions, and the Marbella-based MGM gym. It was widely publicised and the attendance of people associated with the gym would have been anticipated.
Boxers, trainers, members of the public and families with children were present. A silver Ford Transit van pulled up outside and a man in a wig and another in a flat cap emerged and went in through the laundry entrance.
They were captured on CCTV going arm in arm through the hotel toward the weigh-in, where a boxer was on the stage. Armed with handguns, they fired shots, and “cracking sounds” were heard, Mr Gillane said.
“All round panic” was caused, before they moved down the corridor, giving chase to people who were running away toward the exits. The pair left the hotel and formed a loop, returning.
Meanwhile, the van drove to the front of the hotel and three individuals dressed as gardai in tactical style clothing and armed with assault rifles got out and went in the front entrance.
This caused initial further confusion as people thought they were in fact gardai, but they too discharged their firearms on entering the hotel, causing further panic.
The shooting was clearly not indiscriminate, Mr Gillane said, and had elements that were “militaristic and macabre.”
The shooting took place in “the middle of the city in the middle of the day, in front of hundreds of people” and was in essence “performative and targeted,” he said.
It was clear that individuals were being looked for.
David Byrne ran into the reception, where he was shot by a raider described as "Tactical 1" and again by "Tactical 2."
He fell injured and “prone” to the floor at the reception desk. Tactical 2 first took aim at a man taking cover there, but did not fire. He jumped the reception counter and “calmly and coldly” discharged further rounds into the head and body of Mr Byrne.
David Byrne died from six high-velocity gunshot wounds to his head, face, abdomen, hands, and thighs.
Two other individuals were shot and received non-fatal injuries but did not cooperate with the investigation.
The tactical team continued to search and the man in the wig was heard saying “I don’t know where he is” and “I couldn’t f**king find him.”
The tactical team and other two went to the van and the prosecution’s case was that six people were involved including the van driver.
The van was found abandoned and burned out at nearby Charlemont estate, with “cooked off” rounds of ammunition found on the ground.
CCTV showed the six running down an access lane, with the man in a wig pulling a suitcase and the man in the flat cap carrying a bag.
The others had clearly changed clothing and the six made good their escape using a number of parked-up vehicles.
The “execution-style killing” suggested planning and a number of personnel to the investigating gardai. This spoke to an “organised resourced group” rather than a random attack,” Mr Gillane said.
There would be evidence of the “murderous” Kinahan Hutch feud and the structure of the Hutch criminal organisation, he continued.
The court would also hear evidence of events on February 4, when a room was booked at the hotel for the crime gang and the keys handed over by Jonathan Dowdall and his father Patrick.
Mr Gillane said Patrick Dowdall booked the room at the request of another and was seen on CCTV leaving it before his son drove him to Richmond Road.
There, it was alleged, Gerard Hutch approached Dowdall’s car, asked for the room keys and they were handed to him.
Later that evening, Kevin Murray, the raider in the flat cap, was seen using the room, it was alleged, before leaving on the morning of the raid with a holdall and then becoming operational as part of the attack team.
The Buckingham Village area of the north inner city was where vehicles of significance to the case were seen. Of the six vehicles, a black BMW was associated with Mr Bonney, while a green Toyota Avensis taxi was associated with Mr Murphy.
They were each seen driving them and Mr Gillane outlined how their movements could be connected to the case.
The murder attracted a considerable amount of publicity including the publication in the Sunday World of a photograph of the raider in a wig. After this, there would be evidence that Gerard Hutch contacted Dowdall and arranged to meet him in a park in Whitehall.
In their discussion, Mr Hutch was described as being “particularly worked up and edgy” and he discussed the photo that had been published. Dowdall had said he was told “they carried out the murder and he had been one of the team that shot David Byrne.”
Mr Hutch had further asked Dowdall to arrange a meeting with a provisional republican because of the escalation of the feud and threats to family members, and he drove Mr Hutch to Northern Ireland, it was alleged.
On March 7, Mr Gillane said, Dowdall met Mr Hutch in a car park near Dublin Airport and they drove north to another meeting in Strabane.
The vehicle was subject to a surveillance operation and in the course of that journey and the return later that night, the conversation between the two was recorded.
Many topics were traversed, in particular the events of the Regency attack, the feud with the Kinahans and efforts to make peace and have a ceasefire.
It was alleged Mr Hutch was heard saying “he wasn’t going to show a weak hand and go looking for peace.”
“It’s very hard to get involved where the Kinahans are concerned because it doesn’t work, the messenger gets it,” Mr Hutch allegedly said in the recording.
There was reference to Kevin Murray and the Buckingham Village area. Mr Hutch also allegedly discussed “the three yokes” and giving them as “a present to republicans in the north.”
The inference, according to the prosecution, was that the "three yokes” were the assault rifles used in the Regency murder. Their use was described as a “massive statement” and Mr Hutch allegedly said one particular republican contact “knows it is them at the Regency.”
Two days later, on March 9, a man driving a Vauxhall Insignia was stopped outside Slane, Co Meath and three assault rifles were seized from it, along with discharged cartridge cases that were examined and allegedly linked to the attack.
Mr Gillane said the killing could not have been carried out without planning and assistance and it was done with the assistance of vehicles provided by the two co-accused.
Technical evidence was being given by witnesses this afternoon.
The trial had been due to open earlier this month but was delayed after co-accused Jonathan Dowdall pleaded guilty to facilitating the 2016 killing, and made himself available as a state witness.
Yesterday, Dowdall (44) and his father Patrick Dowdall (65) became the first people to be convicted and sentenced over the Regency attack. They admitted making a room at the hotel available to the criminal organisation that carried out the attack.
Jonathan Dowdall was jailed for four years and his father was sentenced to two years.
Jonathan Dowdall had initially been charged with Mr Byrne's murder but that charge was withdrawn by the prosecution after he pleaded guilty to the lesser offence.
The only other person to go on trial over the Regency shooting is Patrick Hutch, a nephew of Gerard Hutch. Patrick Hutch had been charged with murder and possession of firearms but walked free from court in 2019 after charges against him were dropped by the state.
Gerry Hutch was returned to Ireland from Spain in September 2021 to face trial here after losing a final appeal against his extradition.
He was arrested on the Costa del Sol by the Guardia Civil in August last year on foot of a warrant issued in Ireland and has been in custody since.