Retired boxer tells court he saw a body at the Regency Hotel with the face ‘blown off’

Special Criminal Court hears of ‘mayhem’ as two armed men, one dressed as a woman, ran through hotel

Retired professional boxer Mel Christle said he saw a body in the reception area of Dublin’s Regency Hotel after hearing gunshots while conducting a boxing weigh-in there six years ago.

Mr Christle said he had earlier seen two armed individuals, including a man wearing a blonde wig and a dress, run through the hotel.

As he went to leave the hotel, he passed a man’s body in the reception area, near the reception desk. “The body on the ground was a body, a corpse, the face had been blown off,” he said.

He was giving evidence on the opening day of the trial of Gerard Hutch (59), who has denied the murder of David Byrne at the hotel on February 6th, 2016.


Two other men – Paul Murphy (59), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin and Jason Bonney (50), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin, have denied participating in or contributing to activity which could facilitate the murder by a criminal organisation by providing access to specified motor vehicles to that criminal organisation or its members.

On Tuesday, Mr Christle, a barrister, told Fiona Murphy SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, he was the president of the Boxing Union of Ireland in 2016. The union administers professional boxing here should there be a professional boxing promotion but does not itself promote events.

Mr Christle went to the Regency Hotel on February 6th, 2016 to conduct a weigh-in which got under way about 2pm. There were maybe 200-250 people at the event, including children.

He believed the last fighter he had weighed was Gary Sweeney from Co Mayo. As Mr Sweeney stepped off the scales, Mr Christle said he heard “a commotion” in the crowd and heard gun shots, shouting and screaming. He thought he heard about eight gunshots.

“There was mayhem, some people diving to the floor, other retreating backwards, out of the path of two individuals who had come into the room, each holding a gun,” the court was told.

The lead person was “quite obviously a man dressed up as a woman with a long blonde wig with bits of pink or purple through it”. Behind that man was “a middle aged gent with a country cap on his head”.

Both ran “not speedily but not slowly” past him, the man dressed as a woman was holding a revolver close to his stomach, was fit, slim, perhaps in his very early-20s. The second man was middle-aged and stocky, unfit but “moving at a good rate”, and also had a gun.

Mr Christle said he stayed on the weigh-in stage until the two ran past him through doors on his left. He could hear very loud gunshots “like small bombs” from another area of the hotel.

As he was leaving the hotel, he saw very agitated women and a body slumped on the ground with the head almost resting up against the base of the reception desk.

Under cross-examination, Mr Christle agreed he was quite shocked by what he had witnessed.

He believed the weigh-in had been arranged the previous day with the promoters of the boxing event scheduled for that evening. Following the shooting, he had cancelled that and other boxing events scheduled for that weekend.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times