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Regency Hotel shooting scene in February 2016. RollingNews.ie
regency trial

Trial hears of YouTube video of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne lying dead 'in prone state'

A person can be heard saying “they’re not guards” in the video, the court heard.

THE REGENCY HOTEL murder trial has heard evidence about a video clip circulating on YouTube of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne lying dead “in a prone state” with a voice saying “f**k me pink, there’s no way they’re guards” after gunmen were observed dressed as members of the Emergency Response Unit.

Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch (59), last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, denies the murder of Mr Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5, 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 have pleaded not guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of Mr Byrne by providing access to motor vehicles on February 5, 2016.

Detective Garda Paul Darley told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, today that following a targeted search of a person of interest at an address in Coolock in Dublin 17, gardai became aware of an Evening Herald article from February 25 2016, which appeared to relate to the search.

This, the witness said, was a front page article with the headline “Kinahan Must Die”, a quote ascribed to the person who was the target of the search. The story continued inside the newspaper with a subheading “Chilling Threat that gang war won’t end until Kinahan is dead”. The gardai purchased a copy of the paper which the court heard was common practice.

On February 9 2016, Det Garda Darley became aware of a one minute and five second video clip entitled “Shocking Dublin weigh-in shooting” which was circulating on YouTube containing content of the attack at the Regency Hotel on February 5.

The clip was of events as they were developing that day outside the Regency Hotel and the witness sought to access and download it.

The witness said he examined the clip in detail, which was recorded on a mobile device with a “running commentary” throughout and uploaded to YouTube.

The witness agreed with the lawyer that there appeared to be an exchange between three people in the clip, with “three distinct voices”.

The detective also agreed that the clip began in the reception area of the Regency Hotel very shortly after Mr Byrne was shot and showed him “in a prone state” injured on the ground at the reception desk. Mr Gillane said the video also captures Mr Byrne’s injuries. “It’s very obvious that he’s lying dead,” Det Garda Darley said.

The court heard the person making the recording then moves from the reception area and a conversation can be heard.

The witness agreed with Mr Gillane that a male voice can be heard saying in the clip: “F**k me pink, there’s no way they’re guards.”

A voice says: “There they are, there they are in the van, they’re not cops, they’re not cops. Get in out of the f**king way, they’re not cops”.

One person says: “Jaysus look at that young fella” and another says “Don’t go near him” and “they’re not guards”.

A voice can also be heard saying: “Look, they’re trying to get out down there, they drove down there in their van.”

While on the steps, the person recording the clip captures a silver transit van exiting a security gate into the Gracepark Manor estate. Det Garda Darley said the clip was removed from YouTube by gardai after a few days.

Under cross-examination, the witness agreed with Brendan Grehan SC, defending Mr Hutch, that it is common case in an investigation for gardai to obtain newspapers or media reports. He also agreed that investigating gardai have an interest about what is in the public domain at any given time as it might be of interest to an investigation.

Asked if the same interest was applied to the Sunday World newspaper from Sunday February 7 2016, the detective said it was. He agreed the newspaper had a picture of “two persons with guns” with their faces pixelated and obscured so that they couldn’t be identified.

Mr Grehan asked the witness if the process came about as a result of gardai making contact with the Sunday World publishers to ask if the picture was published that their faces would be pixelated. Det Garda Darley said this request was made for operational reasons and it was respected by the newspaper.

Earlier, taxi driver Paul Brady told Mr Gillane that he had bought ten taxi plates during “the boom years” when business was good and had rented them out.

He agreed he had rented out one of the taxi plates to accused man Paul Murphy, who had an address in Swords and that he had the plate which was licensed to a Toyota Avensis for several years. Mr Brady agreed that he gave gardai a copy of Mr Murphy’s full driving licence when he was approached.

Under cross-examination, Mr Brady agreed with Bernard Condon SC, defending Mr Murphy, that Toyota Avensis cars were very commonly used as taxis. Asked about his experience in relation to the cloning in the taxi industry, the witness said because he was a plate holder he has had cars cloned twice or three times.

“Someone would get a car similar to the one I owned, change the registration plate and sign and change the sticker in the corner. It’s a problem for multiple plate holders like myself,” he said. He agreed with the barrister that there have been newspaper articles about cloning in the taxi industry and that it’s been a problem that taxi drivers are aware of.

Now retired Detective Garda Alan Crummey previously gave evidence that he took a statement from Mr Murphy at his Swords address on February 22, 2016. In the statement, Mr Murphy said he owned a green coloured Toyota Avensis since 2012 and rented a taxi plate off another man.

Mr Crummey said he met Mr Murphy again on March 3, 2016 at the Croke Park Hotel to take an additional statement from him. In the statement, Mr Murphy said: “I want to say further to my last meeting my Avensis taxi could have been cloned. The reason I say this is that I recently got two fines for speeding and littering and I never litter. I’m not inclined to speed cause of my job”.

The trial will continue tomorrow before Ms Justice Tara Burns sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone, when it is expected phone analyst Sarah Skedd will give evidence before the prosecution closes its case.

Charges

Ex-Sinn Fein councillor Dowdall, a former co-accused of Mr Hutch who has turned State’s witness and who has pleaded guilty to facilitating Mr Byrne’s murder, was on the stand for eight days in December and cross-examined for seven of those by Mr Hutch’s defence counsel Mr Grehan before the Christmas break.

Dowdall (44) – a married father of four with an address at Navan Road, Cabra, Dublin 7 – was due to stand trial for Mr Byrne’s murder alongside Gerard Hutch but pleaded guilty in advance of the trial to a lesser charge of facilitating the Hutch gang by making a hotel room available for use by the perpetrators the night before the attack.

Dowdall – who previously served as an elected Sinn Fein councillor in the north inner city ward in May 2014 and resigned less than one year later – was jailed by the Special Criminal Court for four years for the facilitation offence.

Following Dowdall’s sentence on October 3, a nolle prosequi – a decision not to proceed – was entered on the murder charge against the former Dublin city councillor.

Dowdall’s father Patrick Dowdall (65) was jailed for two years before the Regency trial started after he also admitted his part in booking the hotel room for the raiders.

Both Jonathan and Patrick Dowdall have pleaded guilty to 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 making a room available at the Regency Hotel, Drumcondra, Dublin 9 for that criminal organisation or its members, within the State on February 4, 2016.

The prosecution case is that the late dissident republican Kevin Murray used the hotel room that was booked at the Regency on the night of February 4, that he was the man seen wearing a flat cap when Mr Byrne was killed and that he cooperated with the “tactical team” that raided the Regency Hotel on February 5. Mr Murray died from motor neurone disease in 2017 before he could be brought to trial.

Mr Byrne, from Crumlin, was shot dead at the hotel in Whitehall, Dublin 9 after five men, three disguised as armed gardaí in tactical clothing and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, stormed the building during the attack, 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.