By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA
CCTV footage of Regency shooting victim David Byrne running towards the hotel lobby where he was shot dead has been played to the Special Criminal Court.
The court heard that men involved in what has been referred to as an execution-style killing at the north Dublin venue took advantage of the “utter surprise and confusion” at the scene.
Gerry “The Monk” Hutch pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Byrne when he was arraigned on Tuesday as the murder trial began.
Mr Byrne, 33, was killed during a crowded boxing weigh-in event on February 5th, 2016 in one of the early attacks of the Hutch-Kinahan gangland feud.
Three people in masks and tactical gear entered through the front of the hotel and two more, one in a flat cap and another in a wig, entered through the laundry entrance.
On Wednesday, CCTV footage of three people in tactical gear and two men dressed in a flat cap and a wig going through the hotel was shown to the court.
Footage of Mr Byrne running from the direction of the hotel suite towards the lobby was also shown.
Photographer Colin O’Riordan told the court he had taken photos of the weigh-in in the suite.
He said his colleague, Irish Independent journalist Robin Schiller, had said he had seen Daniel Kinahan in the suite.
The two journalists left the room after 10 to 15 minutes and were outside when they heard a bang.
Mr O’Riordan told the non-jury court that almost immediately after the bang, men in tactical-style gear appeared and entered the hotel.
He said: “Initially, they had the advantage of complete and utter surprise and confusion,” but as they entered the building, he thought “Gardai do not use AK-47s”.
He took photos on his phone, and told the court he later saw from the images that the men had been wearing black runners.
Mr O’Riordan said he was about four feet away when two of the men came out of the front of the hotel minutes later.
“I stood back because, knowing what had gone on inside, I was in fear for my life.”
He said he tried to make himself as “non-threatening” as he could.
“I said to them, ‘Guard, I don’t know where I should be’,” Mr O’Riordan told the court, and they continued to walk towards a silver van.
Mr O’Riordan said he saw the man in the wig then appear from the hotel.
“I heard him say, ‘He wasn’t there, I couldn’t find him’,” he told the court.
“I heard someone else say, ‘Get the f*** out of here’,” he added, and told the court they were all Dublin accents.
He said that after the men left, he went to get his camera and to move his car, before returning to the scene and taking pictures “as I would ordinarily a crime scene I had come across”.
Freelance photographer Ernie Leslie was also at the scene with a colleague to cover the weigh-in, and heard a bang before seeing people running from the hotel.
He said they moved around towards the front of the hotel, where he noticed a silver van parked to their left with the driver’s window open.
A hand came out the window and appeared to be holding a machine gun, he told the court.
He said he grabbed his camera to get a picture of the gun and when he turned around, he saw someone running towards him.
He told the court he instinctively took seven or eight frames.
Mr Leslie said his colleague started “shouting at me to get out” as a gun had swung around and was pointed at them.
James McGettigan, whose family owned the Regency and was the director of the hotel at the time, described the confusion of the scene.
He told the court he was standing at the bar counter when people in masks and tactical gear came into the hotel “very quickly and rushed towards the bar and elsewhere, so it was a bit of a surprise”.
He said his initial impression was that they were gardai.
He told the court they shouted that they were looking for boxers and asked where they were, and there was a “bit of pandemonium around the place”.
Mr McGettigan said he was standing next to one of the gunmen while everyone else in the bar was lying on the ground.
He said he could see “a lot of running around” and heard shots as well as people screaming and shouting.
Mr McGettigan said the man beside him disappeared after what he thought was around 40 seconds “and it was me on my own with everyone in the bar”.
“I naively made a bit of a dash for a room,” he said, adding that he went to the residents’ lounge to call the guards, “because I felt that something untoward was going on”.
Garda Michelle Purcell, from the divisional technical support unit at Santry Garda Station, showed the court CCTV footage of a silver van arriving through the electric gates at the back of the hotel, and at 2.28pm two men are seen entering the building through the laundry room entrance.
Ms Purcell said the footage showed the two men, wearing a flat cap and wig, linking arms as they walked through the hotel, with the man in the wig “constantly” on the phone.
Later footage shows three people in tactical gear entering the hotel as people flee.
The CCTV footage appears to show a person referred to as Tactical 1 shoot a man in jeans and white runners near the reception area at 2.32pm.
Another person referred to as Tactical 2 jumps on to the counter of the hotel reception.
Ms Purcell played CCTV footage showing the movements of the people in tactical gear through the hotel, saying that they were “going back and forth” and that they appeared to be searching.
The CCTV footage shows that the men in the wig and flat cap, and the three people in tactical gear, were in the hotel for around six minutes, leaving at around 2.34pm.
CCTV footage was also shown of Patrick Dowdall, 65, paying in cash for a room at the hotel the night before the shooting, and of a man identified to the court as Kevin “Flat cap” Murray entering the hotel room over an hour after that.
The deputy state pathologist at the time of the shooting, Dr Michael Curtis, told the court by videolink that Mr Byrne suffered “catastrophic” injuries from six gunshot wounds fired from “a high-velocity weapon”.
He told the court that one of the bullets “entered over the right eyebrow, exited over left side of lower face, scraped the neck and then re-entered the body in the lower collarbone”.
He said the injuries would have been “rapidly, if not instantly, fatal”.
At the beginning of the evidence heard on Wednesday, defence barrister Brendan Grehan SC told the court he was concerned that matters were “not being reported as accurately as they might be”, and suggested something had been reported in the media that was “not the same as what everybody else has reported”.
Mr Grehan said prosecuting barrister Sean Gillane had been “very careful” and Hutch has hearing assistance and heard what was said in court.
He asked that colour pieces in particular would “not seek to embellish things”.
Judge Tara Burns said she did not have the “luxury” of having time to read the media coverage, but noted what Mr Grehan said.
The trial continues on Thursday.