closing stages | 

State closes its case in Regency murder trial as defence say Gerry Hutch won’t take stand

Lawyers for both sides are expected to begin delivering their closing speeches to the non-jury court’s three judges later.

The prosecution in the trial of Gerry Hutch has closed its case

Gerry Hutch (left) is accused of murdering David Byrne (right) at the Regency Hotel in February 2016

Andrew PhelanSunday World

THE PROSECUTION in the trial of Gerard Hutch for the murder of David Byrne at Dublin’s Regency Hotel has closed its case.

Evidence for the state has now concluded in the 13-week trial and witnesses for one of Mr Hutch's co-accused are due to testify today.

Mr Hutch will not take the stand or call any evidence in his defence.

Lawyers for both sides are expected to begin delivering their closing speeches to the non-jury court’s three judges later.

Mr Hutch (59), of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Byrne (32), a Kinahan gang member, on February 5, 2016.

The father-of-three was killed when five raiders, three disguised as ERU gardai with assault rifles, stormed the hotel.

The attack at a boxing weigh-in fuelled the Kinahan-Hutch gang feud.

Two other men are also on trial with Mr Hutch. Jason Bonney (52) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock and Paul Murphy (61) of Cherry Avenue, Swords, deny a charge of facilitating the murder by providing cars for the attack team.

Former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall had been charged with murder but instead pleaded guilty to facilitation, by helping book a room at the Regency that was used by the attackers. He turned state's witness and testified that Mr Hutch met him in a park in Whitehall, Dublin days after the murder and "confessed" to shooting Mr Byrne.

Today, on the trial's 50th day, the court ruled evidence of identification of vehicles from Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras is not admissible. This had been challenged by Mr Murphy's barrister Bernard Condon SC, with Mr Bonney's barrister John Fitzgerald SC adopting his arguments.

Gerry Hutch (left) is accused of murdering David Byrne (right) at the Regency Hotel in February 2016

Final state witnesses had been heard yesterday. Prosecutor Sean Gillane SC told the court this morning the prosecution's case was closed.

"The defence and Mr Hutch are not going into evidence," Mr Hutch's barrister Brendan Grehan SC said.

During the trial the court heard the Regency attack unfolded after a team of six arrived in a silver Ford Transit van after 2.30pm and five gunmen, three disguised as ERU gardai, ran through the hotel, sending people fleeing in panic.

As Mr Byrne ran into the lobby, he was shot six times, “execution-style” by two of the raiders in tactical gear and died from “catastrophic” injuries.

The six left in the van, abandoned it and set it alight in a housing estate before running down a lane to the attack “launchpad” at St Vincent's GGA club grounds, where a convoy of escape vehicles waited.

Gardai discovered Jonathan Dowdall’s father Patrick had booked a room at the hotel and kept the pair under surveillance.

On February 20, 2016 Jonathan Dowdall’s jeep was tracked as he brought Gerard Hutch to the Donegal home of an IRA man, Shane Rowan.

The jeep was bugged when Dowdall and Mr Hutch pair went to Northern Ireland on March 7 for a meeting with the ex politician's republican contacts, to try to get them to mediate in the escalating Hutch-Kinahan feud.

Mr Hutch was heard discussing giving three “yokes” as “presents” to the republicans, which the prosecution maintains referred to the AK47s used by the Regency attackers.

Two days after that meeting, Rowan came to Dublin and as he drove back north through Co Meath, gardai stopped his car and found the three AK47s from the Regency attack.

As well as the "confession" allegation, Dowdall testified that Gerard Hutch turned up to collect the hotel room keys when they were handed over the night before the attack.

Dowdall denied assertions by Mr Grehan that he was lying.

Mr Murphy’s Toyota Avensis taxi and Mr Bonney’s BMWX5 jeep are both alleged to have been part of a convoy that parked up at St Vincent’s grounds before the attack and transported the assassination team away afterwards.

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

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