Regency hotel attack: How landmark Gerry ‘the Monk’ Hutch trial unfolded

Court will have a huge body of evidence to weigh up after conclusion of gangland trial

The case against the Monk as the prosecution rests its case against Gerry Hutch

Andrew PhelanSunday World

The closing of the prosecution’s case in the Regency murder trial yesterday leaves a huge body of evidence for the Special Criminal Court to weigh up in the coming weeks.

Over the last 50 days, the three-judge panel has heard detailed testimony from 140 witnesses, seen hundreds of video clips and listened to hours of surveillance tapes.

The prosecution meticulously assembled all of this to present what it claims is proof that Gerry Hutch is guilty of the murder of David Byrne, and that two co-accused men helped the operation. All three men deny the charges.

The attack

The backdrop was a boxing weigh-in for an event co-promoted by MGM, which ran a Spanish gym linked to the Kinahans.

An attack team of six, including a driver, arrived in a silver Ford Transit van at around 2.30pm.

A young man dressed as a woman and wearing a blonde wig ran in with a second, middle-aged man in a flat cap. Firing handguns, they sent people fleeing in panic.

Moments later, three masked gunmen in “tactical” gear with AK-47 assault rifles ran in. Some people initially believed they were ERU gardaí but they immediately opened fire, escalating the panic.

The case against the Monk as the prosecution rests its case against Gerry Hutch

David Byrne was among those fleeing into the lobby and was shot by two of the tactical team. The second shooter jumped the reception counter to stand and “calmly and coldly” fire more rounds into Mr Byrne’s “prone” body.

All five returned to the waiting van which drove them away. They abandoned it in Charlemont estate, set it alight and ran down Charlemont Lane to St Vincent’s GAA club grounds, where a convoy of waiting vehicles transported them from the scene.

Mr Byrne suffered six gunshot wounds from high-velocity weapons. He died from catastrophic injuries to the head, face, stomach, hand and legs.

The room

Gardaí discovered a room had been booked by ex-Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall’s father Patrick using a family member’s credit card the day before the shooting.

The way it had been booked with slightly incorrect details looked suspicious and the name Dowdall was deemed to be “of significance” to investigators.

Patrick Dowdall was seen on CCTV collecting the key cards and entering the room briefly that night. Less than an hour after he left, Kevin Murray used the room before leaving the hotel the next morning carrying a holdall bag.

Mr Murray, from Strabane and linked to paramilitaries, was identified as the raider in the flat cap but died from an illness before he could be prosecuted.

Jonathan Dowdall was already being watched by gardaí for suspected links with dissident republicans and they kept him under surveillance.

Intelligence indicated his Toyota Land Cruiser was being used by him, his father Patrick, members of an organised crime group and their associates to travel to meetings.

The trips north

Gardaí suspected Jonathan Dowdall had met members of the Real and Continuity IRA before and after the Regency attack.

Intelligence suggested Dowdall travelled to Derry to meet a Real IRA member on January 5, 2016, then returned to Derry on January 18, this time with Gerry Hutch.

On February 11, 2016, Dowdall and his father were back in Northern Ireland, for a suspected meeting with the Continuity IRA. The next day, Mr Hutch called to Dowdall’s Dublin home – gardaí suspected to “organise criminal activity” possibly related to the murder.

A garda covert tracking device was on Dowdall’s Toyota Land Cruiser on February 20, 2016 when he drove Mr Hutch to the Donegal home of IRA member Shane Rowan. A surveillance officer saw Mr Hutch and Dowdall go into Rowan’s house at Forest Park, Killygordon, that day.

On March 7, 2016, Dowdall and Mr Hutch drove to Strabane, Co Tyrone, in a bid to get republicans to mediate in the escalating feud with the Kinahans. This time, gardaí had also installed a separate audio device inside the vehicle.​

Gunmen enter the Regency Hotel ahead of the attack in 2016

The tape

A 10-hour recording from that journey was at the core of the case against Mr Hutch.

The trip came a month after Mr Hutch’s brother Edward “Neddy” Hutch had been murdered in a reprisal for the Regency attack.

It was believed Gerry Hutch was trying to get republicans to broker peace with the Kinahans amid fears of further escalation of the feud.

On the tape, he is heard discussing the negotiations, telling Dowdall it’s “very hard to get involved where the Kinahans are concerned cause it doesn’t work, the messenger gets it”.

There is talk of the Regency attack, with Mr Hutch saying: “The cops are going around like headless chickens.”

Dowdall says he doesn’t think the police know “what is being portrayed in the paper” and the media “don’t have a f***ing clue” about the Regency.

“The f**king six people don’t know who the six people are, no one f**king knows so how can they know?” Mr Hutch is heard saying.

Of particular interest to investigators was Mr Hutch’s talk of “three yokes”, and giving them “as a present” to the republicans in the north. According to the prosecution this refers to the assault rifles used by the Regency attackers.

Dowdall tells Mr Hutch: “You know what the best move you did…the best thing that happened was the particular yokes that was used. That in itself made some f**king statement.”

Mr Hutch agrees, saying: “A massive statement.”

As they return south, Mr Hutch says: “I want the three yokes out of here.”

Shane Rowan

The gun runner

Two days later, on March 9, 2016, the IRA man, Shane Rowan, made a trip south to Dublin where he was seen driving around various locations in the Malahide Road area in a Vauxhall Insignia.

A garda surveillance operation was in place as he met Patsy Hutch, Gerry Hutch’s brother, who was seen driving him in a Toyota Yaris.

Patsy Hutch and Rowan’s cars were then seen driving alongside each other before separating at around 6.30pm.

Little more than half an hour later, Rowan was intercepted driving north outside Slane, Co Meath, with three AK-47s that had been used at the Regency in the boot of his Insignia.

Around 70 minutes later, at 8.22pm, gardaí searched Dowdall’s Navan Road home on suspicion that he was storing firearms and explosives, though neither was found.

Jonathan dowdall

The state witness

During the search of his home, gardaí did discover evidence of a separate crime – a video of Dowdall torturing a suspected fraudster in his garage. He was jailed for that and was still in prison on April 27, 2021 when he was charged with the Regency murder.

Before the sentence ended, he came forward with new information about David Byrne’s killing.

Just weeks before the Regency trial, Dowdall and his father Patrick both pleaded guilty to facilitating the murder by making a hotel room available for the raiders the day before.

Dowdall was jailed for another four years and his father for two. The murder charge against Dowdall was dropped and he dramatically turned state’s witness against Mr Hutch.

Dowdall’s garda statement and subsequent testimony to the trial featured two main allegations. One was that Gerry Hutch met him in Ellenfield Park in Whitehall days after the Regency shooting and “confessed” that he and ‘Mago’ Gately had shot David Byrne.

He said Mr Hutch had been “edgy” after the publication of a photo of two of the Regency raiders in the Sunday World, he was saying a lot of innocent people were going to be killed and he wanted Dowdall to set up a meeting with the IRA.

The other main allegation was about the hotel room keys. Dowdall maintained Patsy Hutch had called his father and asked him to book the room for a friend.

He said the arrangement was to bring the keys to Patsy but when he drove his father to the meeting point at Richmond Road, Drumcondra, it was Gerry Hutch who turned up and collected them.

In evidence, Dowdall also backed up the prosecution assertion that the “yokes” being discussed on the tapes were the Regency AK-47s.

Dowdall believed the meeting happened on February 8, just before he heard Edward ‘Neddy’ Hutch had been murdered, but said it could have been the day before.

Phone location evidence showed he had “no clear opportunity” to have been in the park on February 8. His phone did connect to a local mast the day before, but it was more than three hours after his time estimate.

Dowdall denied defence assertions that he was lying.

David Byrne was killed in the Regency Hotel attack

The co-accused

Using CCTV evidence, the prosecution alleges Paul Murphy’s Toyota Avensis taxi and Jason Bonney’s BMW X5 were used to support the Regency plan.

The cars were first seen at Buckingham Village in the north inner city, which became “operative” for the attack that morning. Gardaí believed the Ford Transit van used by the six raiders was stored there.

According to the prosecution, the BMW and Toyota taxi were then part of a convoy that parked up at the St Vincent’s GAA club grounds “launchpad” for the attack and transported the assassination team away afterwards.

Kevin “Flat Cap” Murray is allegedly seen on CCTV getting into Mr Bonney’s BMW before it left the club grounds.

Mr Murphy confirmed he was the sole driver of his taxi on the day and CCTV purported to show him outside his cab at the Maxol garage on the Howth Road at 1.15pm.

His taxi receipts for the day did not correspond with the car’s movements on CCTV and Mr Murphy suggested to gardaí his car had been “cloned”.

In the taxi, gardaí found a swipe card for the entrance gate at Buckingham Village. It had come from the same batch as a swipe card that had been found in Patsy Hutch’s home.

Mr Bonney, a builder, was allegedly seen on CCTV getting into his car outside his home on the morning of the attack. When questioned, Mr Bonney said he had been working on renovations at his new house at Newbrook Avenue, Donaghmede, at the time of the murder.

However, gardaí believed he did not account for some of the car’s movements that day.

The court has heard his defence will be that he did not drive his BMW south of Newbrook Avenue on the day of the shooting, but his father did.

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