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Gerry Hutch trial: Case adjourned for a week as court hears Dowdall willing to act as witness

David Byrne was murdered during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel, Dublin in 2016.

There was an armed Garda presence outside court this morning.
There was an armed Garda presence outside court this morning.
Image: PA

Updated Oct 3rd 2022, 5:54 PM

THE MURDER TRIAL of Gerry Hutch has been adjourned for a week due to the addition of “significant new evidence” in the last week.

The Special Criminal Court heard that “very significant additional evidence” had been added to the case, resulting in the “fundamental reappraisal of defence strategy in this matter”, according to Hutch’s senior counsel, Brendan Grehan.

Grehan added that the new evidence “requires a substantial additional discussion”.

There was a large armed and undercover garda security operation in place around the Criminal Courts of Justice on Dublin’s Parkgate Street, where the non-jury court sits.

Dressed in a white shirt, tan trousers and with long grey hair, Hutch, 58, did not address the court during the brief hearing today.

Mr Grehan was warned putting back the trial date could cause a “considerable delay” due to the backlog currently being experienced by the court.

The defence counsel said that his client has already been in custody for over a year and that Hutch was “anxious” for the trial to go ahead.

The trial was put back in for next Monday.

It also emerged during the brief hearing that the murder charge against Jonathan Dowdall had been dropped.

The former Sinn Féin councillor had been due to stand trial today alongside Hutch for the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in North Dublin. 

However he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of facilitating the shooting at the Special Criminal Court last Wednesday. 

Earlier today, it emerged in court that Dowdall had given a statement to gardaí with significant information “implicating other people”.

It also emerged that the former councillor is willing to be a witness in the Regency murder trial.

The 45-year-old father of four is currently the subject of a sentencing hearing after pleading guilty to facilitating the murder last week. That hearing is expected to continue later this month, having been adjourned today. 

Evidence 

Detective Sergeant Patrick O’Toole gave evidence earlier today at the sentencing hearing.

The court heard details of how “a man in a flat cap and a man dressed as a woman” were captured on CCTV armed with handguns entering the North Dublin hotel.

Detective Sergeant O’Toole also confirmed how three men dressed in garda-style tactical gear also entered the hotel and discharged rounds at David Byrne, who died as a result.

The non-jury court heard details of how a room was booked in the Regency Hotel a day before the murder. The room was secured using a credit card belonging to a member of the Dowdall family.

Jonathan’s father, Patrick Dowdall, who is also being sentenced for helping to facilitate the murder of David Byrne, is captured on CCTV paying for the room at reception.

The day before the murder, ‘Flatcap’ Kevin Murray, one of the men captured on CCTV entering the Regency with a handgun on the day of the murder, heads into the hotel and goes into the room which had been booked by the Dowdalls. 

The court heard that the keycards for the hotel had been handed over to Murray at a separate location after Patrick Dowdall had checked in.

Kevin Murray died in 2017 after a long illness.

download (1) Former SF councillor Jonathan Dowdall.

New statement

Jonathan Dowdall is currently under garda protection and is also currently being assessed to enter the Witness Protection Programme.

Addressing the court, Senior Counsel Michael O’Higgins, acting on behalf of Dowdall, described how his client made a new statement to gardaí as of last week. 

O’Higgins said that Dowdall, 45, had indicated in November of last year that he was willing to speak to the gardaí about the Regency attack.

O’Higgins said that Dowdall is “now available as a witness” and that while the senior counsel was not privy to the statement his client gave last week, it is the case that this statement “implicates other persons”. 

Asking for mitigation, O’Higgins said Jonathan Dowdall ”has given material assistance not just in respect for offence he has been charged but significantly beyond that”.

He added that Dowdall’s life as he knows it is “effectively over”. 

“He will have to live in exile permanently. He will spend his life looking over his shoulder.” 

The sentence hearing for the two men has now been adjourned for two weeks. 

Co-accused 

Gerry Hutch, last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, is charged with the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel on the Swords Road, Whitehall, Dublin 9, on 5 February, 2016.

His two co-accused – Paul Murphy (59), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin and Jason Bonney (50), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13 – are both charged with participating in or contributing to activity intending to or being reckless as to whether such participation or contribution could facilitate the commission of a serious offence by a criminal organisation or any of its members, to wit the murder of David Byrne, by providing access to individual motor vehicles to that criminal organisation or its members, within the State on 5 February, 2016.

The three accused men were due to stand trial at the Special Criminal Court today.

- With reporting by Alison O’Riordan

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