Gerard Hutch not guilty of the murder of David Byrne at Regency Hotel

Two co-accused convicted on lesser charges of facilitating the Regency attack by providing getaway vehicles

Gerard Hutch walked free from the Special Criminal Court on Monday after he was acquitted of the murder of Kinahan gang member David Byrne at Dublin’s Regency Hotel.

Mr Hutch listened intently as the three-judge, non-jury, court concluded at the end of a four-hour judgment reading that the prosecution had failed to prove its case against him and it was returning a verdict of not guilty of murder.

After the judges rose, Mr Hutch was surrounded by lawyers and others and smiled as he shook hands with his legal team including senior counsel Brendan Grehan and solicitor Padraig Ferry.

Members of the family of David Byrne, including his mother Sadie, left court without speaking to reporters.


Mr Byrne (33) suffered catastrophic injuries and died instantly after he was shot by two of six raiders involved in the attack on the hotel during a boxing weigh-in on February 5th 2016.

The trial of Mr Hutch and two co-accused ran for 52 days before the court reserved judgment on January 26th last. On Monday, Ms Justice Tara Burns, sitting with judges Sarah Berkeley and Gráinne Malone, delivered their 140-page judgment.

The prosecution case was that Mr Hutch (60), with a last address at The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin, was one of the two who shot Mr Byrne. He denied the charge.

The main evidence against Mr Hutch was from Jonathan Dowdall who testified Gerard Hutch had collected key cards for a room in the hotel from Dowdall and his father on Dublin’s Richmond Road on February 4th, 2016, the evening before the attack on the hotel. Dowdall also testified Mr Hutch had confessed to Dowdall, in a park in Whitehall a few days after the attack, that it was him, Hutch, at the Regency.

The court noted Dowdall was previously jailed in 2017 for 12 years for serious offences involving the “waterboarding” of a man at his home in 2015.

Dowdall had also been charged with the murder of Mr Byrne but that charge was dropped following his plea in September 2022, just weeks before the trial of Mr Hutch and his co-accused, to a lesser charge of facilitating the murder by the booking of a room in the hotel the previous evening.

Ms Justice Burns said, when Dowdall’s statement was taken from him on September 23rd, 2022, it could not be said “he found God” and was acting from what he thought was right. He was acting in his own self-interest, she said.

The court believed Dowdall obtained a significant benefit from providing a statement to gardaí, she said. While he and his family would be looking over their shoulders in the coming years, he now has “a chance of a life” as opposed to a conviction for murder.

In light of Dowdall’s pattern of lying and alternate character modes, the court must approach his truthfulness about Gerard Hutch with scepticism and extreme care, she said.

Dowdall had no difficulty telling his account of what allegedly occurred in relation to Gerard Hutch but had not envisaged a wider analysis of the surrounding circumstances including his involvement in the Regency incident and his IRA connections.

He had told a “bare-faced lie” concerning his relationship with Pearse McAuley, “an infamous dangerous terrorist of long standing” in indicating he only visited McAuley in prison two or three times when prison records established 14 visits. He also never outlined the full picture of his relationship with certain dissident republicans, including Shane “Fish” Rowan, a man convicted of having three weapons used in the Regency attack.

There were “disturbing” parts of audio recordings of a journey north by Dowdall and Gerard Hutch where Dowdall appeared enthusiastic about discussing “very specific” plots to get at several people.

It was “impossible to understand”, from Dowdall’s evidence, including his lack of clarity about the day he allegedly met Gerard Hutch in the park in Whitehall, how the alleged encounter in the park evolved.

Dowdall had alleged he was shown a photo from a newspaper article about the Regency shooting and had recognised Patrick Hutch jnr, a son of Patsy Hutch, in that photo but the photo was pixilated and it was just not possible to recognise Patrick Hutch from it unless Mr Dowdall had other information, the judge said.

While the court found Dowdall’s father Patrick had handed over a keycard to someone in the Hutch clan for a room in the Regency, it held it was “impossible” to know to whom the key was handed over and at what location.

Dowdall, being an accomplice and a potential witness protection entrant, is a witness in respect of whom great care had to be taken in relation to his allegations, the court said. It could not act on his evidence alone and required corroborative evidence of his allegations.

The court then assessed the corroborative evidence, including from surveillance audio recordings of conversations between Gerard Hutch and Dowdall.

The court was satisfied that Kevin “Flatcap” Murray, a since deceased republican, was involved in the attack, had stayed in a room in the Regency on the night of February 4th, 2016, and the keycard for that room was given over by Patrick Dowdall earlier at some location earlier to some member of the Hutch clan.

It found Jonathan Dowdall was asked by Patsy Hutch in early 2016, after Patsy’s son Gary was murdered in September 2015, to use his IRA contacts to seek their assistance to broker a ceasefire with the Kinahans. It was satisfied journeys by Dowdall and his father on February 4th, 2016, and earlier in January 2016, and journeys by Jonathan Dowdall with Gerard Hutch on February 20th and March 7th, 2016, were undertaken for that purpose.

The court held three AK47 found in Shane Rowan’s car on March 9th, 2016, were used in the Regency attack, that two of those were used to shoot David Byrne and Patsy Hutch was centrally involved in the movement of the rifles.

It was satisfied members of the Hutch family, acting as an organised crime group, were responsible for the Regency attack and the murder of David Byrne. However, the case Gerard Hutch had to meet was that he was actually present at the Regency and actually shot David Byrne, the court said.

The audio recordings contained no direct admission by Gerard Hutch he was at the Regency and was a shooter, the court said. The opposite appears to be the case from comments by Gerard Hutch on the audio, including him not knowing the correct name of David Byrne.

The CCTV of the Regency events showed the shooters running around at a fast pace and Kevin Murray being incapable of keeping up with the speed, the court said. One shooter had been described as slight and quite young and the second jumped up and down from the reception desk with agility.

The reasonable possibility arises that Gerard Hutch, a man in his mid-50s at the time, “does not fit the movements of the shooters”, the court said.

The segments of the audio the prosecution relied on at most gave rise to a possible inference Gerard Hutch gave the go-ahead for the Regency, the court said. However, the case against Gerard Hutch was of participation, not common design, and even if there was a common design case, some segments of the audio “raised questions” about that.

Other evidence did not establish Gerard Hutch was in the country at the time of the attack.

A “reasonable possibility” arises on the evidence the Regency was planned by Patsy Hutch and Gerard Hutch “stepped in, as head of the family, to attempt to sort out the aftermath of the Regency, particularly as his own life was at risk”, it said.

The audio referred to Gerard Hutch having said to Jonathan Dowdall in Spain after Gary Hutch’s murder that it was not his fight.

The audio did not provide independent evidence of Dowdall’s allegations against Gerard Hutch, the court concluded. It was not satisfied of the guilt of Gerard Hutch on the murder charge and returned a not guilty verdict.

Mr Hutch’s co-accused, Paul Murphy (61), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin, and Jason Bonney (50), Drumnigh Woods, Portmarnock, Dublin, were both convicted on lesser charges of facilitating the attack by making vehicles available to a criminal organisation.

The court upheld the prosecution case against Murphy that a Toyota Avensis taxi seen at various locations on February 5th, 2016, was his, he was driving it that day and used it to collect one of the six Regency raiders at St Vincent’s GAA club car park after the attack.

The court was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the existence of the Hutch criminal organisation, that Paul Murphy knew the Hutches, had a key card to Buckingham Village which was the “centre of operations” in relation to the Regency attack.

The court was satisfied the Regency attack was organised by the Hutch criminal organisation and that Murphy provided access to his taxi knowing it was intended to facilitate the commission of a serious offence.

In relation to the charge against Bonney, the court rejected evidence that his father William Bonney, who died in 2019, was driving a Black BMW X5 at certain times on the date of the Regency attack. The court was “lied to in the most malevolent manner” in the effort to implicate his dead father, Ms Justice Burns said.

The court was satisfied Bonney drove the Black BMWX5 at relevant times, that the vehicle was part of a convoy of vehicles used in connection with the Regency attack and he was the driver of the vehicle when Kevin Murray got into that vehicle after the Regency attack. It was satisfied he knew of the Hutch criminal organisation and provided access to the Black BMWX5 to facilitate the commission of a serious offence by the Hutches.

Murphy and Bonney will be sentenced on May 8th when Gerard Hutch’s application for legal costs will also be heard.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times