Trial of Gerard Hutch for murder of David Byrne at Regency Hotel adjourned

Hutch’s lawyer tells court ‘fundamental reappraisal’ of defence strategy underway after developments last week

The trial of Gerard Hutch for the murder of David Byrne in Dublin’s Regency Hotel more than six years ago has been adjourned for a week, but may be put back for longer.

A former Sinn Féin councillor, Jonathan Dowdall, who had also been charged with the murder of Mr Byrne but pleaded guilty last week to a lesser charge of facilitating the murder by making a room at the hotel available to a criminal gang the day previously, is prepared to testify at the trial, and has made a statement to gardaí, the Special Criminal Court (SCC) heard on Monday.

Byrne (34) was shot dead at the hotel on the Swords Road on the evening of February 5th, 2016, when a number of men entered the premises during a boxing weigh-in.

The trial of Mr Hutch (58), Mr Dowdall and others was due to open on Monday afternoon before the non-jury court, but was adjourned at the request of the prosecution and with the consent of the defence.


The adjournment arose from pleas last week by Jonathan Dowdall (44), with an address at Navan Road, Cabra, Dublin 9, and his father Patrick Dowdall (65), to charges of facilitating the murder by making a room at the hotel available for a criminal organisation or its members on February 4th, 2016.

On Monday morning, the three judge non-jury SCC heard evidence and submissions during a hearing to determine the sentence to be imposed on both Dowdalls on that charge. Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding over that court, said it had a lot of matters to consider and would give its decision on sentence in two weeks’ time. Seán Gillane SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), noting another trial was listed before the court on Monday afternoon, urged a decision on sentence as soon as possible.

At 2pm, the trial of Mr Hutch, Jonathan Dowdall and Patrick Dowdall was listed alongside the trial of two other men, Paul Murphy (59) and Jason Bonney (50). Mr Murphy and Mr Bonney face charges of facilitating the murder by providing motor vehicles to the criminal organisation who allegedly carried it out.

When the cases were called at about 2.15pm, Mr Hutch, wearing a white shirt and tan trousers, was brought into the courtroom by prison officers. Mr Bonney and Mr Murphy, who are on bail, were also present.

Mr Gillane said there had been developments; the Dowdalls had taken a certain course and their sentences had been adjourned for two weeks. In light of that, he secured a nolle prosequi in respect of the murder charge against Jonathan Dowdall. He said there were further developments concerning additional evidence and he was seeking to have the case adjourned to next Monday.

Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr Hutch, said his client has been in custody for over a year and is anxious and ready to proceed with his trial. Matters developed late last week when his side was served with additional evidence, which has resulted in “a fundamental reappraisal of the defence strategy” and required substantial additional disclosure, which the prosecution recognised, he said. His side had sought and received some additional material but would be seeking further disclosure.

Counsel asked that the matter be put back for a week. He anticipated disclosure and other matters would require some additional discussion and hoped the trial could proceed in this law term with the earliest trial date in perhaps two weeks’ time.

Counsel for Mr Bonney and Mr Murphy said they had no difficulty with the adjournment application.

Ms Justice Tara Burns, presiding at the three-judge court, said it appeared disclosure rather than additional evidence was what was outstanding. She said the court would adjourn the trial for one week but noted the indications are that it is unlikely to start next Monday.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times