Regency trial: Gerard Hutch not guilty of the murder of David Byrne

Gerard Hutch has been found not guilty by the Special Criminal Court of the murder of David Byrne at Dublin’s Regency Hotel
Regency trial: Gerard Hutch not guilty of the murder of David Byrne

Alison O'Riordan and Eoin Reynolds

Gerard "The Monk" Hutch has been found not guilty by the Special Criminal Court of the murder of David Byrne at Dublin’s Regency Hotel.

His two co-accused were convicted earlier on Monday on lesser charges of facilitating the attack by making vehicles available to a criminal organisation.

Amid dramatic scenes at the non-jury court, the notorious crime figure is a free man having been acquitted of murdering Mr Byrne during the centrepiece attack of the Hutch/Kinahan gang feud at the Regency Hotel in 2016.

The court found it could not rely on the evidence of former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall.

The court also found that audio recordings of a conversation between Dowdall and Mr Hutch did not corroborate Dowdall's claim that Mr Hutch had confessed to being one of the hitmen at the Regency Hotel where David Byrne was shot dead.

Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch leaving the Special Criminal Court after being acquitted of murdering David Byrne. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Ms Justice Tara Burns at the three-judge court said the evidence gave rise to the reasonable possibility that the Regency attack was planned by Gerard Hutch's older brother Patsy Hutch and that Gerard Hutch stepped in during the aftermath due to the fact his own life was now at risk.

She said that the evidence did not give rise to the inevitable inference that Gerard Hutch was present at the Regency during the attack. At most, she said it gave rise to the possibility that he "gave the go-ahead" but the case against Mr Hutch, she said, is not one of common design.

Even if it were one of common design, the judge said that there would be a "question mark over that also".


Acquitting Mr Hutch, Ms Justice Burns said the court finds him not guilty of the offence of murder. Mr Hutch walked from court a free man.

Gerard Hutch, who turned 60 last week, last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, had denied the murder of David Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on the Swords Road, Whitehall, Dublin 9 on February 5th, 2016.

Mr Hutch's two co-accused – Paul Murphy (61), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin and Jason Bonney (52), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13 were each found guilty of the charge of participating in or contributing to the murder of Mr Byrne by providing access to motor vehicles on February 5th, 2016.

A significant security operation took place at the Criminal Courts of Justice building on Parkgate Street on Monday, where members of the Garda Armed Support Unit and Garda Emergency Response Unit were present in the building.

Sadie Byrne and James 'Jaws' Byrne, the parents of the late David Byrne, were in court to hear the court's not guilty verdict.

Boxing weigh-in

The three-judge, non-jury Special Criminal Court heard that the shooting took place during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel. A man dressed as a woman and another man wearing a flat cap, who were armed with handguns, stormed the hotel followed by three people dressed in tactical-style garda uniforms carrying assault rifles.

Flowers, balloons and messages at the Bonnington Hotel, formerly the Regency Hotel, where David Byrne was shot dead in 2016. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

It was the State's case that Gerard Hutch was one of two gunmen disguised in tactical gear who shot Kinahan Cartel member Byrne in a "brutal and callous execution" as the victim scrambled on the ground of the Regency Hotel amongst "complete carnage".

Fiona Murphy SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, submitted in her closing speech that portions of a secretly recorded 10-hour conversation between Mr Hutch and Dowdall on March 7th, 2016, clearly showed the accused was "the man in charge". She submitted that he had authority and control over the AK-47 rifles at a time "so proximate" to the Regency shooting, that the firearms were the gift of Mr Hutch to give and that he was seeking someone to assist in diffusing the escalating Hutch/Kinahan feud.


Ms Murphy said Mr Hutch was talking about the movement of the weapons at a crucial time in which they ultimately ended up in transit and were seized by gardaí from convicted IRA man Shane Rowan just two days later. She said there were admissions in the audio to Mr Hutch's involvement in the Regency shooting but what was singularly absent was "any denial or pushback" by Mr Hutch against the implication that he was centrally involved in the attack.

It was the State's contention that the entirety of the audio showed a concern on the part of Mr Hutch that things have got out of hand and a wish to have some way of pulling back. "This is clearly in a context where that escalation is borne out of the Regency shooting for which Gerard Hutch tacitly and openly accepts responsibility," said Ms Murphy.

During the tapes, Dowdall is recorded as telling Mr Hutch: “I said we never admitted that that was anythin' to do with yous at the Regency, but obviously we did by givin them the yokes.”

Court artist sketch of former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall giving evidence during the trial

Mr Hutch had replied “Yeah, he knows, yeah”, something the prosecution maintained was an admission by the accused that he was one of the gunmen who engaged in the attack at the Regency.

However, Mr Hutch's barrister senior counsel Brendan Grehan argued in his closing address that there were no forensics, no phone records and no CCTV footage of Mr Hutch from the Regency shooting on February 5th 2016. "There's no evidence he was even in the country on the 5th of February, never mind in the Regency, apart from Jonathan Dowdall's suggestion," he said.

'Admitted liar'

Mr Grehan said the prosecution case against his client stood or fell on whether the Special Criminal Court could believe the evidence of the "proven and admitted liar and perjurer" Jonathan Dowdall. Mr Grehan said there was no corroborative evidence to support what the defence referred to as the central lies at the heart of Dowdall's evidence.

Jonathan Dowdall, a former co-accused of Mr Hutch who facilitated Mr Byrne's murder and turned State's evidence, had testified that Mr Hutch told him in a park several days after the Regency attack, in or around Monday, February 8th, 2016, that he and another man had shot Mr Byrne at the hotel. The ex-politician said that Mr Hutch said he "wasn't happy about shooting the young lad David Byrne and David Byrne being killed".

The State's case was 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.

The Special Criminal Court viewed CCTV footage during the trial of what the State said was 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.

Mr Byrne, from Crumlin, was shot dead at the hotel in Whitehall, Dublin 9 after five men raided the building, which was hosting a boxing weigh-in at the time. The victim was shot by two of the tactical assailants and further rounds were delivered to his head and body.

Mr Byrne died after suffering catastrophic injuries from six gunshots fired from a high-velocity weapon to the head, face, stomach, hand and legs.

Ms Justice Burns presided over the trial and delivered the court's judgment on Monday with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.

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