Regenecy trial: Hutch said use of AK-47s was 'massive statement', court hears

Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch is on trial in the Special Criminal Court accused of the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in February 2016
Regenecy trial: Hutch said use of AK-47s was 'massive statement', court hears

Alison O'Riordan

The Regency Hotel murder trial has heard a recording of ex-Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall tell Gerard 'The Monk' Hutch that the accused's "best move" was the "particular yokes used", in what the prosecution alleges is a reference to the three AK-47 assault rifles used by the gunmen who murdered Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne.

In the recording, Dowdall told Mr Hutch: "And d'ya know what the best move you did was. I know it's a small thing. I don't know if you thought of it Gerard at the time, I certainly didn't, but the best thing that happened was the particular yokes that was used. That in itself made some f**king statement."

Mr Hutch replied: "Ah massive statement." He later says that "anyone with cop on would know immediately that cops don't use them".

The accused tells Dowdall that it's "very hard to get involved where the Kinahans are concerned, coz it doesn't work, the messenger gets it", adding that he was "not gonna show a weak hand and go looking for peace".

In the recording, the court heard Mr Hutch said there had to be "f**kin' mediation for jaysus sake" and that the Kinahans had "after getting a good wallop and a good bang there".

Dowdall replies: "They pushed too hard, didn't they Gerard, on the wrong c**t so that's what happened". The accused agreed with this statement.

'A very good judge'

The trial of Mr Hutch has heard that the two men, in conversations captured by a garda recording device as they allegedly travelled to the North to meet with republicans, also discussed many topics including the death of former Supreme Court judge Adrian Hardiman who died in March 2016.

Mr Hutch was recorded as saying that Mr Hardiman was a "very good judge". "He was a great barrister, he went from being a barrister straight to the High Court and Supreme Court," he added.

Dowdall tells Mr Hutch that "there's nothin' worse than a bully Gerard" and that he'd be "careful of any meetin' of anybody for peace or anything".

Dowdall can also be heard telling the accused "like if some c**t came in looking for you like that" and asked him if he had read about the Kinahan's "destroying themselves" in the newspaper and that they were "runnin' out of money".

In another clip, the court heard Dowdall talking about how "cops are sayin' that they can't get over how hard, how focused they are" and their "hardened attitude".

Dowdall tells the accused: "This is not your fight, it can't be all left on your shoulders either Gerard.

"...Ya reared your kids right, they need you as much as the next fella needs their da."

Dowdall's refers to "all the bleeding killin's" and "dealing with the bleedin' little w**kers that are up and comin'". Mr Hutch calls it "disgraceful" and says that "there had to be another way".

"There's other ways of punishin' people. Don't be using a gun all the time. The heartbreak that's left behind when a f**kin' persons dead," the accused, says. Mr Hutch added: "We don't want any innocent c**ts shot" and that "it's terrible to do that".

Bugged

Later in the conversation, Dowdall asks Mr Hutch if there "was anyone that you can message that you trust 100 per cent for your man's address for them two c**ts that did that to you in Spain". "No, I'd have to be in Dublin, maybe go around and get them," Mr Hutch replies.

For a second day at the non-jury court, the audio recording was played of a conversation between Mr Hutch and Dowdall while they were allegedly travelling north to a meeting in Strabane, Co Tyrone on March 7th, 2016 in Dowdall's Toyota Land Cruiser SUV which had been bugged by garda detectives.

Mr Hutch can also be heard saying that he had his "purse" and he'll "bleedin reef them if they come near me". "I always break everything in half in case there is a problem," he said.

Transcripts of the recordings, which are being relied on by the prosecution, are being displayed on several screens in the courtroom and have been described as "part of the core" of State's case in the trial of Mr Hutch (59), last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, who denies the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5th, 2016.

Last week, the three judges ruled that they would listen to the 10 hours of conversations between Mr Hutch and Dowdall that were captured by gardaí, despite having heard that Dowdall's bugged SUV had been outside of the State during the majority of the recordings.

Mr Hutch’s defence lawyer, Brendan Grehan SC, has submitted that their "core argument" would be that gardaí were aware that Dowdall's jeep was outside the jurisdiction for eight of the ten hours of those recordings from March 7th, 2016 and that the evidence harvested from that "illicit fruit" should be excluded from the trial.

The non-jury court will hear the 10 hours of audio recording which began at 2.20pm on March 7th 2016, leading into the early hours of March 8th. After this the court will hear full legal argument from counsel on both sides as part of a 'voir dire' - a 'trial within a trial' - before the three judges rule on the admissibility of its contents having regard to the extraterritoriality issue.

The Special Criminal Court has viewed CCTV footage of what the State says is Mr Hutch making two separate journeys to Northern Ireland with Dowdall on February 20th and March 7th, 2016, just weeks after Mr Byrne was murdered.

CCTV footage has been shown to the court of Mr Hutch getting into the front passenger seat of Dowdall's Land Cruiser at 2.23pm on March 7th at Kealy's pub of Cloghran on the Swords Road. Further CCTV footage showed the vehicle at the Maldron Hotel in Belfast at 5.35pm that evening.

Another clip showed the vehicle returning to Kealy's car park at 12.15am in the early hours of the morning on March 8th, where Mr Hutch gets out of the SUV and into a BMW.

The State's case is that Mr Hutch had asked Dowdall to arrange a meeting with his provisional republican contacts to mediate or resolve the Hutch-Kinahan feud due to the threats against the accused's family and friends.

Witness Protection

Jonathan Dowdall (44) - a married father of four with an address at Navan Road, Cabra, Dublin 7 - was due to stand trial for Mr Byrne's murder alongside Mr Hutch but pleaded guilty in advance of the trial to a lesser charge of facilitating the Hutch gang by making a hotel room available ahead of the murder.

Dowdall has been jailed by the Special Criminal Court for four years for facilitating the Hutch gang in the murder Mr Byrne.

The former Dublin councillor is currently being assessed for the Witness Protection Programme after agreeing to testify against Mr Hutch.

Mr Byrne, from Crumlin, was shot dead at the hotel in Whitehall, Dublin 9 after five men, three disguised as armed gardaí in tactical clothing and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, stormed the building during the attack, which was hosting a boxing weigh-in at the time.

Mr Hutch's two co-accused - Paul Murphy (59), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin, and Jason Bonney (50), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13, have pleaded not guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of David Byrne by providing access to motor vehicles on February 5th, 2016.

The trial continues on Wednesday afternoon before Ms Justice Tara Burns sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.

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