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IRA man caught with Regency Hotel AK-47s released after serving time on same wing as Jonathan Dowdall

Shane Rowan was caught with three AK47s and ammunition in Co. Meath a month after the 2016 attack which claimed the life of Kinahan cartel member David Byrne

Shane Rowan

Gunmen dressed ad gardaí ERU enter the Regency Hotel

Killed: David Byrne

Jonathan Dowdall

Sunday World

THE IRA member caught with the assault rifles used in the Regency Hotel shooting has already been released from prison after serving some of his sentence on the same landing as former Hutch associate turned supergrass Jonathan Dowdall

Shane Rowan of Forest Park, Killygordon, Co Donegal was caught with three AK47s and ammunition in Co. Meath a month after the 2016 attack which claimed the life of Kinahan cartel member David Byrne.

The trial of Gerry ‘the Monk’ Hutch for Mr Byrne’s murder heard evidence from an undercover garda who saw Hutch meeting with Rowan a month before his arrest.

Jonathan Dowdall

The officer said he was carrying out a covert surveillance operation after the gangland attack when he saw Mr Hutch, former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall and IRA man Shane Rowan go into a house in Co Donegal.

Two weeks later, Rowan was intercepted in Co Meath as he travelled north with the three assault rifles in the boot of his car. The court also heard surveillance unit gardai saw Mr Hutch’s brother Patsy Hutch in a car with Rowan in Dublin 34 minutes before the gun seizure.

Gunmen dressed ad gardaí ERU enter the Regency Hotel

Rowan was arrested when gardai made “intervention” where a grey 09 Donegal-registered Vauxhall Insignia was stopped travelling on the N2 at Tuiterath near Slane in Co Meath at 7.05pm on March 9, 2016.

The weapons were found in his vehicle along with magazines of ammunition. Ballistic tests later confirmed the weapons had been used in the Regency attack.

Killed: David Byrne

In July 2016, Rowan was jailed for seven and a half years for possession of assault rifles and ammunition. He was also sentenced to a concurrent sentence of four years in prison for IRA membership.

He served some of his sentence on the E1 landing of Portlaoise Prison which generally housed non-aligned republican prisoners. Other people on the wing at the time included Jonathan Dowdall who was jailed in 2017 for torturing a man in his garage and threatening to chop him up and feed him to dogs.

Longford pensioner Donal Billings who was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years after he put an explosive device bus headed for Dublin and made bomb threats during the State visit of Queen was also housed on E1.

Sharif Kelly from Balbriggan in Dublin who is serving a life sentence for the murder of dissident Peter Butterly in Meath in 2013 was also on Rowan’s landing as were Louth man Michael Connolly who was convicted of IRA membership before having the conviction overturned and Dublin man Vincent Banks who also had an IRA membership conviction overturned earlier this year.

With standard remission Rowan was released from prison last year after serving just over five years behind bars.

Hutch’s trial heard evidence this week about a surveillance operation on the day Rowan was arrested.

A Garda, identified only as AG, who was carrying out surveillance on the day said that at 4.51pm he saw a grey Toyota Yaris being driven by Paddy Hutch at Blunden Drive, Coolock.

The Yaris was in convoy with a Vauxhall driven by Rowan. The garda said he knew both men. The cars travelled left onto the Malahide Road and across to Malahide Road Industrial Estate. At 5.03pm, he said, he saw Paddy Hutch driving the Yaris accompanied by Rowan who was in the front passenger seat.

The Yaris turned drove left on Greencastle Road and left onto the Malahide Road, outbound with both still on board, he said.

He saw it go left at Newtown Road and a short time later saw it again in the industrial estate, where he was aware a Vauxhall was parked in a cul de sac. At 6.16pm, Gda AG saw the Yaris driven by Paddy Hutch and still accompanied by Rowan, he said. It drove into Malahide Road retail park and did a lap of Woodies’ carpark, before parking. It left at 6.23pm, still with Paddy Hutch and Rowan on board and turned left at McDonald’s, he continued.

At 6.30pm, Gda AG saw Rowan in the Vauxhall, coming from the Greencastle Parade area, turning left at Greencastle Road and stopping at the traffic lights. He noticed the Yaris with Paddy Hutch pulled up alongside Rowan’s car. The Yaris window was open and “I got the impression that there was a conversation” between the cars before the light went green.

The Yaris went right and the Vauxhall went left at 6.31pm

The court heard 34 minutes later, Rowan was stopped in the Vauxhall in Co Meath with the three AK47s.

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