Wednesday 12 December 2018

Crowd 'hostile' to gardai at scene of Regency Hotel gangland attack, court hears

The Regency Hotel
The Regency Hotel
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

The first gardai to arrive at the scene of the Regency Hotel gangland attack were met by a “hostile crowd” when they tried to find out what had happened and were “told where to go” by an injured man, who had been shot in the stomach.

The Special Criminal Court heard gardai were given “no information” when they spoke to the wounded man and the crowd outside the hotel was “quite irate.”

The weapons allegedly used in the attack were shown to the court today as exhibits in trial of Patrick Hutch Jnr.

A pathologist’s report concluded that the murdered man, David Byrne was killed “rapidly if not instantaneously” by six gunshots.

Mr Hutch (25), from Champion's Avenue, in the north inner city, is pleading not guilty to murdering Mr Byrne and possession of three assault rifles.

Mr Byrne (33), from Crumlin, was shot dead by gunmen dressed as gardai who stormed the hotel along with a man wearing a blonde woman’s wig and another in a flat cap.

Patrick Hutch Jnr
Patrick Hutch Jnr

Prosecutors claim Mr Hutch was identified as the man dressed as a woman.

They do not allege the accused shot Mr Byrne but that he participated in the February 5, 2016 raid and shared intent to commit the crimes.

Garda Sergeant Noel Nolan said he was called to the hotel in Whitehall at 2.35pm in relation to an incident that was developing there. He met a large group of people and there were “mixed emotions - people were very agitated,” he said.

People were gathered at the Centra shop beside the hotel and he tried to get the names of those present.

He noticed a man who had blood coming from his abdomen and was standing on a grass verge .

“I asked him what had occurred and we were told where to go and given no information,” Sgt Nolan said.

David Byrne
David Byrne

The man kept walking around and Sgt Nolan subsequently discovered who he was.

He heard a conversation about the reception area and went there and saw the deceased up against the reception desk.

There was a lot of confusion and he had difficulty ascertaining the name of the deceased, he told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting.

He then went and viewed CCTV footage of what had happened.

Garda Finbarr Fleming told Mr Gillane he made his way over to a large group of people outside who were “quite irate and upset” and he tried to ascertain what happened.

“The crowd were hostile towards me,” he said.

He saw an individual who had an injury to his lower abdomen and it was quite clear he had been shot. The group of people was “quite hostile” as he tried to ascertain information.

Garda Fleming then saw a man who was slumped on the ground in the reception area and noticed another man who was injured but still alive.

The results of Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis’ post mortem examination were read out to the court by Mr Gillane.

He said Mr Byrne had suffered “catastrophic” injuries from six gunshot wounds. The first entered his head above the right eyebrow, travelling down and stopping at the collar bone.

The second entry wound was to the right side of the face and the bullet went down and lodged in the chest.

The third bullet entered the anterior abdomen through Mr Byrne’s waistband, tracking up into his abdomen, piercing internal organs, including the liver, which was “pulverised” and  exiting at the scapula. This bullet was found loose in his clothing.

The last three bullets “transfixed” the right hand and both thighs.

“This man died as a result of six gunshot wounds from a high velocity weapon,” the report concluded.

“The injuries sustained would have proved rapidly if not instantaneously fatal.”

A toxicology report showed Mr Byrne had diazepam, codeine, pseudoephedrine paracetomol and cannabis in his system.

Mr Byrne’s father James remained in court throughout the evidence, while his mother Sadie stepped outside before the pathologist’s report was read out.

Garda Inspector Michael Mulligan, who was a sergeant at the time, said he was off duty when he he got a missed call from the Regency’s general manager at 2.37pm. He called and had a conversation with him about what was developing there, then had a similar missed call followed by a conversation with owner James McGettigan.

He called Santry Garda Station and he himself went to the hotel at 4pm. He noted the body of Mr Byrne was still in situ at the time.

On May 18, 2016 he arrested Mr Hutch at Ballymun Garda Station for murder and was present when he was charged.

Insp Mulligan was present when Mr Hutch was charged and he later gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution when he was brought to the Criminal Courts of Justice later that day

Detective Garda Padraig Boyce gave evidence that he received briefing that resulted in a Vauxhall Insignia being stopped while it was travelling at Tuiterath in Co Meath on March 4, 2016. The driver was arrested and three AK47s were found partially concealed in the boot, along with three magazine clips.

Detective Garda David O’Leary of the ballistics section said after he arrived, the remains of the deceased were under a scene of crime tent and were examined by Dr Michael Curtis before being placed in a body bag and removed.

He noted eight discharged cartridges in the lobby and another on the access ramp. He saw a number of strike marks, and recovered a number of projectiles that had lodged in the reception counter, and another which had penetrated the counter and lodged in a filing cabinet.

More cartridges were found in the function room where the weigh in had taken place, inlcuding on the stage.

He confirmed that bullet cases from the scene had been discharged from three Romanian, Chinese and Yugoslavian assault rifles that had been seized by gardai in an investgation in Co Meath.

Another Detective Garda David O’Leary, from the scenes of crime unit said one of the guns recovered in Co Meath was under a rug and the other two were wrapped in shirts inside a sack.

Wearing blue latex surgical gloves, he held each AK47 up in court to show the three judges before they were logged as exhibits.

The trial continues before Judge Tony Hunt, Ann Ryan and Patricia Ryan.

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