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Dublin Live
John Hand

Up to 12 bullets fired at Regency Hotel on day David Byrne was shot dead, Gerry Hutch's trial hears

Up to 12 bullets were fired at the Regency Hotel on the day David Byrne was shot dead, Gerry “The Monk” Hutch’s murder trial heard yesterday.

The rounds were discharged from three AK-47 style weapons and the cartridge cases matched the three firearms seized in Co Meath just over a month later. The Special Criminal Court had previously heard how six bullets had struck Byrne in the head, face, stomach, hand and legs.

Hutch, 59, denies he murdered the deceased, who was 33, on February 5, 2016. Det Garda David O’Leary, from the Garda Technical Bureau, yesterday told how a bullet went through the reception counter and lodged in a filing cabinet. The witness said he also found several discharged cartridge cases in the function room where the boxing weigh-in was being held.

Read more: Kinahan gangster David Byrne's face was reconstructed for open casket funeral

Det Garda O’Leary added there were also “strike marks” in the vicinity of a round table next to the stage. The officer was handed each of the three firearms in the courtroom yesterday as he gave evidence on each on day five of the trial.

Grey-haired Hutch, 59, dressed in a navy blazer, navy chinos, a blue shirt and black shoes, looked on as he sat on his cushion in the dock at Court 11 with two other men. Det Gda O’Leary told prosecutor Sean Gillane that he attended the Regency on the day of the shooting and the scene had been preserved by the time he arrived.

On entering, a crime scene tent had been erected where a deceased male was lying against the front of the reception desk. The witness explained there were 7.62 calibre cartridge cases discharged in the lobby area, in the function room where the weigh-in had been taking place as well as the hotel access ramp outside.

He noted two “strike marks” on reception and said a copper-jacketed bullet went through the desk and into the filing cabinet while another round was lodged in the counter. In the function room, there were also more discharged cartridge cases and strike marks. The Special Criminal Court heard on March 10, 2016 Det Gda O’Leary received three assault rifles from a colleague.

Last week, Inspector Patrick Boyce told the non-jury court about the discovery of the weapons just over a month after the shooting. The officer said a grey Vauxhall Insignia driven by Shane Rowan was stopped at Tuiterath, Balrath, Slane, Co Meath, on March 9, 2016.

He added the boot was opened and his attention was brought to three assault rifles he recognised to be AK-47 rifles which were seized. Rowan was arrested and in July of that year, was jailed for more than seven years for possession of assault rifles and ammunition.

He was handed a four-year concurrent sentence for IRA membership. Det Gda O’Leary was handed the first rifle in court yesterday by the exhibits officer. Upon receiving it, he checked it and declared the firearm was “safe”.

The witness repeated this for the other two guns. He told Mr Gillane this firearm was a Chinese variant of the Russian-made Kalashnikov.

Det Gda O’Leary said it was in good condition and had not been cleaned since it had been last discharged. He added the AK-47 – which weighs 3.5kg with a 16.5 inch barrell – could fire in semi-automatic or automatic mode.

The ballistics officer told the judges how it was designed for 7.62 by 39mm calibre ammunition which was similar to what was found at the Regency. He was then handed the second AK-47 which he explained was a Romanian variant of the Kalashnikov.

It too had not been cleaned since last discharged and was designed to fire the same rounds as the first firearm. The third assault rifle was a Yugoslavian made Zastava M70 and it also was designed to fire 7.62 by 39mm calibre ammo which he had found at the hotel.

Continuing his evidence, Det Gda O’Leary was handed three ammunition magazines in court which were each capable of holding 30 rounds of ammunition. He said he was satisfied that seven cartridge cases found at the scene of the shooting were fired by the Romanian weapon. A further four were discharged from the Yugoslavian weapon while one other was from the Chinese variant of the assault rifle.

Under cross-examination from Hutch’s defence counsel Brendan Grehan, Det Gda O’Leary told him the Kalashnikov had been invented in Russia in 1947. The court heard copies of the weapon “spread far and wide” and there are “tens of millions” of them.

The officer also said the magazines were all interchangeable. For some of Det Gda O’Leary’s evidence, Hutch flicked through notes while he watched on at other times.

Beside him in the dock is Jason Bonney, 50, of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin, and Paul Murphy, 59, of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin.

They are charged with participating in or contributing to the facilitation of the killing by providing motor vehicles for a criminal gang in February 2016. Yesterday afternoon, the court was again led through CCTV by Garda Michelle Purcell.

The focus was on the movements of a grey-coloured taxi on the day of the shooting. One clip shown was of the car pulling into a Maxol filling station on the Howth road at 1.14pm.

It shows the driver getting out and filling the vehicle with fuel before heading into the shop and is seen paying at the counter. The prosecution alleges Murphy is the man in the footage.

The trial continues today before Ms Justice Tara Burns, presiding, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.


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