After 52 days, 140 witnesses, 10 hours of secret audio recordings, eight days of former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall on the stand, phone call data, hours of CCTV footage, eyewitness testimony from 27 National Surveillance Unit officers and four closing speeches, judgment will be delivered in the trial of Gerard Hutch and his two co-accused on April 17th.
Hutch (59), last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, denies the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5th, 2016.
His two co-accused, Paul Murphy (61), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin and Jason Bonney (52), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13 have pleaded not guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of Byrne by providing access to motor vehicles on February 5th, 2016.
Trial Key Moments
September 28th, 2022: Dowdall Pleads
Jonathan Dowdall and his father Patrick plead guilty to facilitating the murder of Byrne at the Regency Hotel as part of the Hutch-Kinahan gang feud by making a hotel room available for the Hutch gang on February 4th, 2016, the evening before the murder.
October 3rd, 2022: Witness Protection
At Dowdall’s sentence hearing, the Special Criminal Court is told he is being assessed for the Witness Protection Programme and that Dowdall, who will never live in Ireland again, has made himself available as a witness to testify against his former co-accused Gerard Hutch.
The State will not be proceeding with a charge of murder against the former Dublin city councillor.
October 17th, 2022: Dowdall jailed
Dowdall is jailed by the Special Criminal Court for four years for facilitating the Hutch gang in murdering Byrne. His father Patrick is sentenced to two years imprisonment.
October 18th, 2022: The Confession
The prosecution opens the trial, saying that Gerard Hutch told Dowdall that he was “one of the team” that murdered David Byrne. Sean Gillane SC, for the State, says the Regency attack was “performative, targeted” and had elements of “the militaristic and the macabre”.
The court hears there was “panic and mayhem” when gunmen, including one dressed in a wig and knee-length dress, opened fire at a weigh-in at the hotel.
October 19th, 2022: David Byrne’s last moments
Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis gives evidence of Byrne suffering catastrophic injuries from six gunshots fired from a high-velocity weapon to the head, face, stomach, hand and legs.
CCTV footage of the fatal shooting of Byrne is shown to the court. Five men, three disguised as armed gardaí in tactical clothing and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, are seen storming the building. Two of the assailants shoot Byrne in the lobby of the hotel at 2.30pm and further rounds are delivered to his head and “prone” body.
October 27th, 2022: Meeting IRA man
A surveillance garda testifies he saw Gerard Hutch and Dowdall meeting convicted IRA member Shane Rowan, who was later caught with three AK-47 assault rifles used in the murder of Byrne, in Donegal on February 20th, 2016.
The court also hears that Gerard Hutch’s brother, Patrick Hutch Senior, was in the same car as Rowan a month after the Regency attack on March 9th, 2016. Less than an hour later, Rowan was stopped driving north with the three assault rifles that had been used in the shooting.
November 10th, 2022: Hutch Gang evidence
Senior garda testifies that the “Hutch Criminal Organisation” emanates from “intergenerational familial bonds and close family associations” in Dublin city centre and operates on a patriarchal system of loyalty based on monetary gains.
November 14th, 2022: Tracking Device
The court is told a tracking device was fitted to Dowdall’s Land Cruiser jeep when he drove Gerard Hutch across the border two weeks after the murder of Byrne.
November 15th, 2022: Not in accordance with the law
The trial hears that “disturbingly” all records from the tracking device placed on Dowdall’s vehicle by gardaí were destroyed after Hutch was arrested and charged and before the Regency Hotel murder trial began last October.
Senior counsel Brendan Grehan, for Hutch, says the destruction of these records was a “real problem” and he did not accept the State’s assertion that it was done in accordance with the law.
November 16th, 2022: Senior investigator not consulted
Former head of the National Surveillance Unit tells trial he did not consult the senior investigating officer on the Regency Hotel murder investigation or the DPP when he destroyed records from the tracker device.
Former Detective Inspector Ciaran Hoey said he did not believe the records would be used in the prosecution when he ordered their destruction months before the Regency Hotel murder trial began.
November 17th, 2022: Secret audio
The trial judges rule they will listen to ten hours of conversation between Hutch and Dowdall that were captured by gardaí, despite Dowdall’s bugged jeep having been outside of the State during the majority of the recordings, and will rule on their admissibility later.
November 21st, 2022: “What was lost is now found”
Garda Assistant Commissioner Orla McPartlin says she would “absolutely not” have signed off on the destruction of records from a tracker device deployed on Dowdall’s jeep if she had the “slightest inkling” that the material was required and instead would have ordered its retention.
The murder trial hears gardaí recovered records from the tracker device which were believed to have been destroyed. Grehan says it appeared that “what was lost is now found”.
November 22nd, 2022: “Like headless chickens”
The court begins listening to recordings captured by a garda bugging device as Hutch and Dowdall travelled to the North to allegedly meet republicans. Hutch tells Dowdall that Daniel Kinahan looked “in a f**kin heap” from photographs he had seen in a newspaper after the Regency attack.
Hutch tells Dowdall that the “cops are going around like headless chickens” and that “loads of f**k ups have after been made” in the aftermath of the shooting.
November 23rd, 2022: Criticism of Mary Lou McDonald
Dowdall is heard criticising Sinn Féin party leader Mary Lou McDonald in the recording for not attending the funeral of murdered man Edward ‘Neddy’ Hutch and told his brother, murder accused Hutch: “But yas were good enough to use Gerard for votes, yas were good enough to use for money.”
December 2nd, 2022: Bugged conversations admissible
Judges rule that ten hours of conversations between Hutch and Dowdall that were captured by a garda bugging device are admissible in the trial, despite the majority of the evidence having been “gathered unlawfully” while Dowdall’s jeep was outside of the State.
December 7th-8th, 2022: Objections to Dowdall’s evidence
Defence lawyers for Hutch suggest the dropping of the murder charge against Dowdall was an “incredibly powerful incentive” for him to give a statement against Hutch, leaving it impossible for their client to obtain a fair trial if Dowdall is permitted to give evidence.
The trial judges rule Dowdall’s evidence is admissible in the trial.
December 9th, 2022: Witness Protection
Dowdall is allowed to give evidence in the trial despite the status of his Witness Protection Programme application remaining unknown.
December 12th, 2022: Dowdall takes the stand
Jonathan Dowdall takes the stand, telling the prosecution that Hutch said that he and another man had shot Byrne at the Regency Hotel.
In the presence of Dowdall, a Detective Superintendent testifies that Dowdall’s assessment for the Witness Protection Programme was “ongoing” and was “completely independent” from the evidence he gave to the court.
December 13th, 2022: Master manipulator
Dowdall denies to Grehan that he is a master manipulator, an opportunistic liar, that he is prepared to lie under oath, has a “fairly mixed relationship with the truth” and that he manipulates every situation to his own advantage.
He further denies that he was caught on an audio recording planning “mass murder”, discussing getting “people whacked” and planting bombs. He rejects the proposition that he used the promise of bomb timers as “a bargaining tool” to get dissident republicans to mediate in the Hutch/Kinahan feud.
On the final day of his cross-examination on December 21st, an interview is played to the courtroom of Dowdall “hotfooting” it on to Joe Duffy’s RTÉ Liveline programme on March 9th, 2016, where Grehan said he played the “indignant victim” following a garda raid on his home.
January 20th, 2023: “No clear opportunity”
Intelligence analyst Sarah Skedd says that phone records give no “clear opportunity” for Dowdall to have met Hutch on one of the dates the ex-councillor claimed the accused “confessed” his direct involvement in the murder of Byrne.
However, she says it is possible that “this meeting” in a Dublin park took place on the previous day – Sunday, February 7th, 2016.
January 25th, 2023: Closing speeches
The State gives its closing speech, telling the judges that Hutch was one of two gunmen disguised in tactical gear who shot Byrne in a “brutal and callous execution” as the victim scrambled on the ground of the Regency Hotel among “complete carnage”, and should be convicted of murder.
Fiona Murphy SC, prosecuting, says the recordings show Hutch was “the man in charge”.
Defence counsel Grehan said the case against Hutch stands or falls on whether the Special Criminal Court can believe the evidence of a “proven and admitted liar and perjurer”.