After hearing evidence for 52 days, the Special Criminal Court will deliver a judgment in April in the trial of Gerard Hutch, who is charged with the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne at the Regency Hotel, and his two co-accused who deny participating in the murder.
Presiding judge Ms Justice Tara Burns, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone, said the court would notify parties if the judgment for the three accused is available before April 17th next.
Earlier on the final day of the trial, the defence barrister for a builder, who denies participating in the murder of Mr Byrne, gave his closing speech to the non-jury court submitting that there are a number of holes in the prosecution’s case.
Senior counsel John Fitzgerald, for Jason Bonney, noted that the case put forward by the DPP to associate his client with a BMW X5 jeep “at all times” and specifically at St Vincent’s GAA grounds on February 5th, 2016, was a “light or thin case”. Mr Bonney’s jeep is alleged to have been used by him to transport a man in a flat cap, who minutes earlier had raided the Regency Hotel, away from St Vincent’s GAA grounds on the day of the shooting.
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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 5th, 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 5th, 2016.
Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, said in his opening address that “an integral part of the operation” which led to Mr Byrne’s death was the means by which the tactical team escaped, which was central to the case of Mr Bonney and Mr Murphy.
A BMW X5 jeep, which the prosecution say was driven by Mr Bonney on the day, and Mr Murphy’s light-coloured Toyota Avensis taxi, are alleged to have been part of a convoy that parked up at St Vincent’s GAA club grounds before the shooting and then transported the assailants from the Regency Hotel shooting after a Ford transit van was abandoned.
It is Jason Bonney’s defence that, on February 5th, he never drove his jeep, which the prosecution say was used in the attack, south of Newbrook Avenue, Donaghmede, [north of the Regency Hotel] - but his father William Bonney did.
Closing the defence case for Mr Bonney on Thursday, John Fitzgerald SC said he would be suggesting to the court that there are a number of holes in the prosecution’s case.
Mr Fitzgerald said the State had adopted “a slightly mixed bag approach” and stated that because his client was in the car between 11.38am and 1.18pm that the only reasonable inference to draw was that he was in the car for the entire day.
“It that really the only reasonable inference to draw? Because an individual identifying himself in a car on two brief occasions that is enough to cover a six hour period. I say its not”. He said the court had to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver of the jeep did not change that day.
He said deviations and absences noted in the path of the jeep on the day “are more consistent with the case made by Jason Bonney” that there was a changeover of drivers at Newbrook Avenue.
In his closing speech, Bernard Condon SC, for Paul Murphy, said the prosecution had failed to prove its case against Mr Murphy to the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. He said the prosecution had offered a “broad brush stroke of propositions and assertions” that were not supported by the evidence.
Mr Condon said the court was being invited to convict based on “guilt by association” and “guilt by suspicion” rather than proof beyond reasonable doubt.
Mr Condon also said that to prove the case of facilitating a criminal organisation, the prosecution has to prove the existence of the criminal organisation and that Mr Murphy had knowledge of it.
“What exactly is the Hutch organised crime gang?” counsel asked. He said there was “very limited evidence on that” other than that it was an “intergenerational gang”. He said there was no specific evidence that Mr Hutch’s brothers Patsy or Neddie were members of the Hutch organisation on the day of the Regency murder, and no evidence that Patsy Hutch was involved in crime prior to the Regency. Paul Murphy, counsel said, knew Patsy Hutch through his legitimate taxi business.
Mr Condon questioned the quality of CCTV evidence which the prosecution alleges shows his client’s taxi in convoy with other cars allegedly used to transport people to and from the Regency attack.
Mr Condon said that his client’s silver Toyota Avensis cannot be identified on the CCTV and he pointed out that a taxi driver who gave evidence during the trial said that silver Toyotas are one of the most common cars used as taxis in Dublin.
Mr Condon concluded: “A broad brush stroke of propositions and assertions have been made, but a deep dive into the evidence does not support it. Inferences are asked for that cannot be drawn and the proper verdict for Paul Murphy is, not guilty.”