Regency hotel trial: Two men convicted of facilitating attack each sentenced to more than 8 years in prison

Paul Murphy (61) and Jason Bonney (52) found guilty of providing getaway vehicles in 2016 killing of David Byrne

Two men convicted of providing getaway vehicles for the attack on Dublin’s Regency Hotel during which Kinahan gang member David Byrne was shot dead have been jailed by the Special Criminal Court for a total 17 and a half years.

Ms Justice Tara Burns said an offence such as the Regency attack could not be carried out without the involvement of others, and Paul Murphy and Jason Bonney has provided “significant assistance” for the attack.

The three-judge court on Friday imposed a sentence of nine years on Murphy (61), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, and of eight and a half years on Bonney (52), of Druimnigh Woods, Portmarnock, Co Dublin.

Ms Justice Burns said both men had provided intentional assistance to the Hutch criminal organisation and their offences were at the higher end of the scale for this category of offence.


Both accused had provided “significant assistance” in relation to the attack as they had carried away two of the six attackers from detection and acted in concert with another four drivers, she said. This was not “by chance” but was part of a planned criminal operation, which involved “significant planning and co-ordination”.

The offence of both accused was aggravated by the fact that a serious offence, a murder, occurred regardless of whether the accused had knowledge of the seriousness of what was planned, she said.

In a detailed judgment last month, after a 52 day trial before the non-jury court, Ms Justice Burns, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Gráinne Malone, found the Regency attack was orchestrated by the Hutch criminal organisation.

It acquitted Gerard Hutch of a charge of the murder of Mr Byrne but convicted Murphy and Bonney of facilitating the attack by providing getaway vehicles.

In findings concerning Murphy, the court found that he, knowing of the existence of the Hutch criminal organisation, provided access to his Toyota Avensis taxi at St Vincent’s GAA club on February 5th, 2016 intending to facilitate the commission of a serious offence, namely the murder of David Byrne, by the Hutches.

Having regard to Bonney’s movements on Feb 5th, 2016, the court was satisfied that he, knowing of the existence of the Hutch criminal organisation, provided access to a Black BMW X5 jeep at St Vincent’s GAA cub car park intending to facilitate the commission of a serious offence by the Hutches.

Delivering the court’s decision on sentence on Friday, Ms Burns said the two accused had acted in concert with another four cars travelling in convoy to St Vincent’s GAA car park on February 5th, 2016.

Having arrived at St Vincent’s the six cars waited in the vicinity for 35 minutes, which showed intentional assistance was provided to the Hutch crime organisation and showed knowledge of a significant criminal operation being under way with six people getting six separate lifts.

The offence was aggravated by the fact that a serious offence, a murder, occurred regardless of whether the accused had knowledge of the seriousness of what was planned.

The court could not agree with submissions on behalf of both accused that this participation amounted to being at the lower end of the scale for such an offence, she said.

Both men knew that a serious criminal event was planned involving six men, the nature of which required the six men to be removed from the scene, she said. The court viewed the participation of the two accused as offending falling in the upper end of seriousness for offences of this nature.

A headline sentence of 10 years was appropriate for the offences, she said.

The court imposed a sentence of eight and a half years on Bonney having taken into account mitigating factors, including his being of previous good character and having no previous convictions. The judge noted he was a hardworking family man and an accomplished boxer, who previously fought at international level for Ireland, and had active voluntary involvement in his local community in terms of boxing. The court had received many references speaking highly of him, which the court had regard to, including from a man whom the Bonney family had adopted when he was a child in care. The court also noted Bonney has a significant cardiac issue.

In imposing a sentence of nine years on Murphy, the court noted he has five children and a long work record. It said it was not taking into account his having a number of previous convictions for minor offences, all of which were dealt with by the District Court. The longest sentence imposed on him for those was 12 months, it noted.

An application by Gerard Hutch’s lawyers for his legal costs, believed to be a very substantial six figure sum, will be heard on June 7th. The DPP is opposing the application.

Mr Hutch was not on criminal legal aid and was represented by senior counsel Brendan Grehan, barrister Michael D Hourigan, instructed by Ferrys Solicitors.

Last month, when acquitting Mr Hutch of the murder charge, the court noted the prosecution case was that he was one of two gunmen wearing fake Garda tactical gear who shot David Byrne a number of times in the hotel.

Due to the court’s concerns about the credibility of the main prosecution witness Jonathan Dowdall, a former Sinn Féin Councillor whom the court noted was an accomplice and a potential entrant to the State’s Witness Protection Programme, it required independent evidence to corroborate allegations made by Dowdall against Mr Hutch.

It found audio recordings of conversations between Gerard Hutch and Dowdall did not provide independent evidence of Dowdall’s allegations and did not establish Gerard Hutch’s actual presence or participation in the murder but was “consistent with the Hutch family being behind the Regency attack”.

A “reasonable possibility” arose on the evidence the Regency was planned by Patsy Hutch, a brother of Gerard Hutch, and that the latter “stepped in, as head of the family to attempt to sort out the aftermath” of the Regency, particularly as his own life was at risk, the court observed.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times