authoritative | 

Regency trial: Gerry ‘the Monk’ Hutch maintains alpha male persona in the dock

During the first week Hutch pored over legal documents, scribbled notes, and regularly called his lawyers over for discussions

Gerry Hutch

A member of An Garda Public Order Unit provides extra security at the Special Criminal Court. Photo: Collins Courts

Regency© PA

Ali BrackenSunday Independent

The only sign Gerry Hutch is nervous is his constant fiddling with his long, wavy hair.

Now 59, the man known as The Monk has grown his thick black hair to almost shoulder length and it is now flecked with strands of silver, giving him a somewhat authoritative look.

The Special Criminal Court would benefit from a sketch artist to capture the Monk’s hairstyle, which is wildly different to one the general public would recognise.

He is on trial for the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel, and is charged alongside co-accused Paul Murphy (59) and Jason Bonney (50), who both face lesser charges of facilitating the murder, by providing the perpetrators with access to vehicles. All have pleaded not guilty.

The trio sit together in the dock — but are poles apart.

Bonney, of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, and Murphy, of Cherry Avenue, Swords, wear casual, tracksuit-style clothing.

The Monk has decided to dress more sharply. He wears a navy blazer, a blue shirt with a large collar, beige slacks and shoes. By Thursday, Hutch appeared to have been wearing the same blue shirt for three days.

During the first week of his murder trial, Hutch pored over legal documents, scribbled notes, and regularly called his lawyers over for discussions.

He also listened intently to all the witness and video evidence. As he’s hard of hearing, The Monk listens on court headphones.

He has positioned himself as the alpha male in the dock. Bonney and Murphy sit quietly and impassive in comparison. They aren’t perusing legal notes, neither are they engaged in frequent conversations with their lawyers.

A member of An Garda Public Order Unit provides extra security at the Special Criminal Court. Photo: Collins Courts

But the three men, who are friends, seem very comfortable in each other’s company, often chatting during court breaks.

“They look like three lads you’d meet down the bookies, don’t they?” one member of the public remarked to a friend.

The pair of young men had come to court to watch the high-profile trial on Thursday afternoon, clearly keen to catch a glimpse of the The Monk.

“They look so ordinary,” his friend responded, a little disappointed. “Just like three auld fellas really, aren’t they?”

Also present every day last week were the parents of murder victim and Kinahan cartel lieutenant David Byrne.

Sadie and James ‘Jaws’ Byrne sat quietly, listening to all of the evidence concerning the execution-style murder of their son. The click of Sadie Byrne’s oxygen tank could occasionally be heard during quiet moments of the trial.

Byrne’s partner and mother of his two children, Kellie Quinn, was also present for much of the first week of proceedings.

The Regency attack was a pivotal moment in the Hutch/Kinahan feud, which so far has claimed 18 lives.

On the second day of the trial, graphic footage of the attack was played in court. The detailed hotel CCTV footage depicted how the six-man hit squad were in and out of the Regency Hotel in just over six minutes — during which time Byrne was shot six times.

Prior to these clips being shown, prosecution counsel Sean Gillane told the court that some of the imagery could be “upsetting” and “difficult viewing”.

The victim’s family silently filed out of the courtroom.

Ms Justice Tara Burns noted the fact that some students are also in attendance at the trial. She urged them to take on board what Mr Gillane said, as the footage may be “distressing”.

In minute detail, and from different angles, the court was shown events as they unfolded over those few minutes.

Hutch and his two co-accused watched silently but intently.

The attack is caught from many angles — the arrival of the first raiders, one in a flat cap and the other in a woman’s wig, and the moment when all six gunmen, three in tactical garda uniforms, flee the scene.

Regency© PA

The footage also shows members of the public race from the hotel in panic once the shooting begins.

One clip shows David Byrne being shot in the hotel lobby and falling in front of the reception desk. The footage then shows the 34-year-old being shot at close range by one of the raiders dressed in tactical gear.

Separate evidence was given by deputy state pathologist Dr Michael Curtis, who attended the scene and performed a post-mortem on Byrne.

The pathologist said the 34-year-old criminal’s body bore evidence of “catastrophic gunshot injuries”, and told the Special Criminal Court that his death would have been instantaneous.

Among those listening to the evidence in the hushed courtroom was the victim’s father, who had returned to the courtroom after the CCTV evidence of his son’s murder had concluded.

There is a strong garda presence inside and outside court. Outside court 11, the Garda Public Order Unit make visible patrols. The Special Criminal Court is identifiable, as it is the only courtroom with a walk-through metal detector outside.

Most days, the small chamber is filled to capacity. The garda presence is expected to intensify. The trial is gearing up to hear testimony from former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall, whose decision to turn state witness and give evidence against Hutch continues to cause fallout in the criminal world.

Outside the Criminal Courts of Justice, specialist gardaí from the Armed Support Unit (ASU) are making their presence felt. A garda ASU jeep is purposefully parked at the steps of the court building.

On Thursday afternoon, two officers with their heavy-duty weapons on display stand outside the courthouse. They watch on bemused as a large group of teenagers pose for a school photograph at their teacher’s instruction.

“The size of their guns,” a teenager remarks, leading to nervous laughter all around. “It’s a bit scary isn’t it?”

The trial continues.


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