Trial evidence | 

Witness describes David Byrne’s horrific injuries after Regency Hotel shooting ‘mayhem’

Fighter Gary Sweeney who he had been weighing “ran out in his Donald Duck underpants,” Mr Christle said.

Mel Christle, former president of the Boxing Union of Ireland

Mel Christle

Andrew PhelanSunday World

A boxing official has described the “mayhem” of the Regency Hotel shooting where he saw murder victim David Byrne slumped on the ground with his face “blown off.”

Mel Christle, then-president of the Boxing Union of Ireland, said he heard gunshots like “small bombs” going off as the attackers opened fire and people screamed and ran.

Afterwards he saw two other men who had been wounded but survived, and people who had “never witnessed anything like this before" comforting each other.

The court heard Mr Christle was at the Regency to ensure the upcoming events complied with boxing regulations.

He told Fiona Murphy SC, prosecuting, that he was weighing in boxers on the stage when the shooting happened. The fighter he was weighing, Gary Sweeney, had stepped off the scales when Mr Christle heard a commotion in the crowd.

Mel Christle

“I heard shots and shouting and screaming,” he said, adding that there were about eight gunshots.

“There was mayhem”, he said. “Some of them were diving towards the floor, others were sort of retreating backwards away out of the path of the two individuals who had come into the room, each holding a gun.”

“The person in the lead was quite obviously a man dressed up as a woman, with a blonde wig with bits of pink and purple through the wig. There was no doubt it was a man, from the gait, the way he was running, and behind him was a middle-aged gent with a cap, a country cap on his head. He was stocky, he was bringing up the rear so to speak.”

They were about 10 to 15 metres away from him and he watched as they ran past. The man dressed as a woman was fit and slim in his very early 20s and was holding a revolver close to his stomach. The wig was long, “way down over his shoulders” and he wore a knee-length dress.

The other was “obviously unfit” but ran at a “good rate.” They moved together and the second man also held a gun. “There was mayhem,” he said.

Gary Sweeney “ran out in his Donald Duck underpants,” Mr Christle said.

Mr Christle also went outside and saw a parent trying to console a young child, aged four or five. He also heard four or five very loud gunshots coming from another area inside the building.

“They were like small bombs, it wasn’t just ordinary shots,” he said.

It was clear that there was shooting outside as well. The gunfire was “all done in a minute or two.”

Gardaí at the Regency Hotel after the attack in February 2016. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins© Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Mr Christle said he collected his things and as he left the hotel he saw two people who were shot. One man was shot in the leg and was being treated by a boxing trainer, and another seemed to have a gunshot to the stomach, where there was blood on his clothing.

When he made his way out to reception, there were a couple of women who were quite agitated.

“There was a body slumped on the ground, almost resting his head up against the base of the reception desk,” he said.

A very distraught woman was saying “they shot Kevin, I think I recall,” he continued. “The body on the ground was a corpse… its face had been blown off.”

There was a general panic and “weakness in people” including staff who had “never witnessed anything like this before,” he said.

He did not know any of the people or the disfigured corpse, he said. Out on the Swords Road, two tearful young men were talking to each other and they obviously knew the identity of the dead man.

“I asked them and they wouldn’t respond,” he said. “They were very very nervous. One of them had a large kitchen knife he was trying to conceal up his sleeve. It was quite clear that people outside were all alert.”

Others were leaning on cars comforting each other.

Mr Christle said he phoned others involved in the boxing event and told them “everything was off.”

In cross-examination, he agreed with Brendan Grehan SC he was “shocked” as he left the hotel.

Members of Mr Byrne's family including his parents Sadie and James Byrne sat in the public gallery throughout the day's proceedings.

Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch is charged with Mr Byrne's murder.

Hutch, of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin denies murdering the father-of-two. Co-accused Paul Murphy (59) of Cherry Avenue, Swords and Jason Bonney (50) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, deny facilitating the murder by providing the perpetrators with access to vehicles.

Earlier, the three accused formally entered their pleas of not guilty when they were arraigned before Ms Justice Tara Burns, Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.

The trial continues.

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