Inmate who claims to be Regency gunman described as ‘vulnerable’ heroin addict

“He grew up around the Hutches,” the source said, “and got it into his head to save Gerard”

Armed men entering the Regency Hotel

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

An inmate who claimed in a jailhouse confession that he was the shooter in the Regency Hotel murder of David Byrne has been described by sources as a “vulnerable prisoner struggling with mental health issue.”

The Sunday World has learned the inmate, a heroin addict, is not currently serving a sentence but is instead on remand in prison awaiting trial for a number of serious offences.

He previously served lengthy jail terms for offences including robbery, but was not in custody at the time of the Regency Hotel shooting on February 5, 2016.

It’s understood he was incarcerated in a prison in Dublin in December when he approached a senior officer seeking to confess to the shooting.

The timing of the confession is understood to have occurred after State witness and convicted torturer Jonathan Dowdall testified Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch had told him in a park, several days after the Regency attack, that he and James ‘Mago’ Gately had shot David Byrne at the hotel.

It’s understood that in his confession the inmate claimed that it was he, and not Gerry Hutch, who was the shooter.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall being cross-examined at the Special Criminal Court, Dublin (Elizabeth Cook/PA)© Elizabeth Cook

After making the statement, the inmate was moved to a prison outside the capital.

Until his confession, the inmate had never previously been considered as a person of interest in the murder of David Byrne, despite a lengthy and extensive investigation.

A source this week described the inmate as “a vulnerable mental health prisoner.”

“He grew up around the Hutches,” the source said, “and got it into his head to save Gerard.”

The confession, described in court as “a curious matter” failed to derail the trial after Hutch’s barrister Brendan Grehan SC said it “would have to wait to another date to be resolved.”

Hutch, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Kinahan cartel associate David Byrne at the Regency, is set to learn his fate on April 17.

Gerry 'the Monk' Hutch

His trial, and that of co-accused Jason Bonney and Paul Murphy, lasted 52 days.

At the conclusion of the trial, Brendan Grehan SC, defending Mr Hutch, argued that there was no evidence presented from either the 10-hour audio or Jonathan Dowdall that proved his client’s guilt.

If the verdict does rule in Hutch’s favour, then he is likely to be celebrating it just five days after his 60th birthday on April 12 this year.

The two co-accused men, Jason Bonney and Paul Murphy, have been remanded on bail while Hutch remains on remand in custody at Dublin’s Wheatfield Prison.

Murphy (61), of Cherry Avenue, Swords and Bonney (52), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, have pleaded not guilty to participating in or contributing to activity that could facilitate the commission of a serious offence — namely the murder of David Byrne — by a criminal organisation by providing access to individual motor vehicles on February 5, 2016.

In essence, the pair are accused of using their vehicles to aid the hit team in escaping from St Vincent’s GAA Club minutes after the shooting at 2:41pm.

However, Bonney and Murphy’s defence barristers,in their closing speeches, submitted that there was no evidence presented before the trial that proves beyond all reasonable doubt that they were involved.

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