Thursday 27 July 2017

Regency Hotel 'gunman in drag' suspect arrested after high-speed chase

Gardaí swoop on man in 20s after high-speed chase

David Byrne, who was shot dead in the Regency Hotel
David Byrne, who was shot dead in the Regency Hotel
The funeral of murder victim David Byrne

Paul Williams and Ken Foy

The suspected gunman in drag who fled the Regency Hotel after the bloody murder of David Byrne has been arrested.

The man, who is aged in his late 20s, is believed to have fired the first shots in the gangland slaying on February 5.

The shocking attack saw a number of men dressed in garda uniforms and carrying AK47s storm the Drumcondra hotel during a boxing weigh-in and murder key Kinahan cartel lieutenant David Byrne.

The man, suspected of playing a central role in the bloodbath, was arrested in Coolock, Dublin, at around 9pm last night.

It is the first arrest in relation in to the murder of criminal David Byrne (34) and a major breakthrough in the garda investigation.

The gunman, who is a relative of murdered Gary Hutch and Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, was arrested after gardaí intercepted a car on the Malahide Road following a high-speed chase.

As part of the same operation, gardaí arrested a notorious hitman, who is also suspected as being one of the shooters armed with AK47s, for dangerous driving.

Read More: Feud sparked slaughter in city streets

The hotel shooting is understood be in retaliation for the murder of Gary Hutch in Spain last year. The 33-year-old fled to Spain last year, but he was shot dead after a gunman chased him around a swimming pool.

The gunman in drag is now being detained under the provisions of Section 50 - Criminal Justice Act 2007 at Ballymun Garda Station.

He can be held for up to seven days.

The gardaí have been closely monitoring the suspect for several weeks.

Read More: Gang of dozen young men chosen as 'next generation' of Kinahan cartel

By studying CCTV footage and images taken at the Regency, gardaí used facial recognition technology to identify the criminal.

The second man arrested is a feared hitman, who is also believed to have been part of the brutal assassination team at the Drumcondra hotel.

He previously issued a chilling threat in relation to cartel crime boss Daniel Kinahan.

"We will not rest until Daniel Kinahan is dead. He caused all of this - it won't end until he is in his grave," the gunman said.

This notorious north inner city criminal is a feared hitman who is suspected of carrying out the murders of Paul Kavanagh last year, as well as Eamon 'The Don' Dunne in 2010, on behalf of the Kinahan cartel.

However, he cut ties with the gang after the murder of his close pal Gary Hutch and is now their sworn enemy.

He had spent a number of weeks in Dublin after the Regency Hotel gun attack but was believed to be mostly based in Northern Ireland.

The "drag shooter" arrived at the Regency Hotel linked arm-in-arm with another man.

According to witnesses, he acted like a "feeble old woman", wearing a blonde wig, knee-high boots, a black coat and scarf.

The gang stormed the hotel which was hosting a boxing weigh-in ahead of a European title fight. Several members of the Kinahan cartel were present at the weigh-in.

Once inside, the gunman in drag fired the first shot.

It is believed that upon hearing the gunshot, victim Byrne ran towards the exit doors but slipped in the reception area of the hotel upon catching sight of two gunmen who came through the front door, dressed as gardaí and armed with AK-47s.

It was there that he was shot to death.

While detectives believe the murder had been planned for several months, the gang underestimated the number of people who would be in the hotel.

The murder of Byrne sparked gangland warfare between the Hutch gang and Kinahan cartel.

Three days after Byrne's brutal murder, Eddie Hutch Snr, the brother of Gerry Hutch, was shot dead at his home on Poplar Row.

This week, a senior member of the Kinahan cartel was arrested in connection with the murder of taxi driver Eddie Hutch Snr.

The North Dublin criminal is also a suspect in the murder of cigarette smuggler Noel 'Kingsize' Duggan (56).

Irish Independent

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