A garda has described finding spent cartridge cases in the Regency Hotel in Dublin following the murder of Kinahan cartel member David Byrne.
Det Garda Seamus O’Donnell, who is attached to the ballistics section of An Garda Síochána, told the Special Criminal Court he recovered several discharged cartridge cases from the hotel reception.
He located a bloodstained tracksuit top, tracksuit bottoms and two discharged cartridge cases at the rear of the function room, where a boxing weigh-in had taken place. He found bullet strike marks on the carpet and said there had been forced entry to a side entrance known as the laundry room.
Det Garda O’Donnell was giving evidence at the trial of Gerard Hutch (59), last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, who denies the murder of Mr Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on the Swords Road, Whitehall, Dublin 9, on February 5th, 2016.
The witness said he went to Charlemont estate and examined a “very badly burnt” silver Ford Transit van, where he found “several discharged live and cooked-off calibre cartridge cases” as well as a number of bullets located on the ground. The “cooked-off” cases had exploded as a result of the fire. Two rounds of ammunition found were suitable to be fired from AK-47 rifles and its various copies, he said.
A large set of red-handled bolt cutters and an electric key fob were found in the footwell of the van. None of its registration plates had survived.
Garda Michelle Purcell brought the three-judge court through CCTV footage, where a man is seen reversing a black BMW X5 out of Drumnigh Wood in Portmarnock at 11.38am on February 5th.
Prosecution barrister Sean Gillane SC told the three judges that the prosecution case is that the man getting into the BMW is Mr Hutch’s co-accused Jason Bonney. However, Mr Bonney’s defence barrister John Fitzgerald SC said this evidence would be challenged and that it was a legal issue.
Garda Purcell said the BMW had tinted windows with a silver rim around them, a faulty brake light on the left-hand side and was “quite mucky”.
[ Three AK-47 rifles found in car by gardaí one month after Regency Hotel shooting ]
In the footage, the BMW is seen pulling up at Eddies Fuels at Hole in The Wall Road in Donaghmede at 11.41am on February 5th. The driver gets out of the car and is seen carrying a canister in his hand. He is no longer carrying it when he leaves the premises, said the garda.
The car arrives at Buckingham Street at 12.16pm and leaves the area at 12.40pm. At 1.20pm the BMW returns to Drumnigh Wood, parks up and the driver gets out of the car. He is seen running towards a house before leaving again at 1.24pm with some “form of bag” in his hand. The car drives in the direction of Donaghmede.
Meanwhile, Det Chief Insp John Caldwell, who is attached to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and was stationed in Strabane, told the court he was at Ballymun Garda station in February 2016, when he was asked to identify an image of a man with a flat cap and carrying a pistol in his right hand.
“I identified that person as Kevin Murray who was living in Strabane,” he said, adding that he had last “spoken to him face to face” in April 2016.
Det Garda Adrian Ahern, who said he is involved in investigations into serious crime in the Border area, said he attended Letterkenny Garda station to view two separate sets of images. He said he was able to identify Kevin Murray in one.
He also identified Mr Murray in images entering the Regency Hotel on February 4th, 2016, and leaving a room the next morning at 9.45am before going to the lobby with a green sports bag.
Mr Hutch’s two co-accused — Paul Murphy (59) of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin, and Mr Bonney (50) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13 — have also pleaded not guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of David Byrne by providing access to motor vehicles on February 5th, 2016.
The trial continues before Ms Justice Tara Burns, presiding, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Gráinne Malone.