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Monday 21 August 2017

Regency gunman 'Flat cap' unlikely to get IRA funeral over Hutch link

The last picture of Kevin ‘Flat Cap’ Murray
The last picture of Kevin ‘Flat Cap’ Murray

Suspected Regency Hotel gunman Kevin 'Flat Cap' Murray, who died late on Wednesday night, is "highly unlikely" to receive a paramilitary funeral this weekend.

The criminal (46) gained his nickname after he was photographed running from the hotel wearing the distinctive hat, with a handgun in his hand, in the aftermath of the murder of key cartel figure David Byrne (33) in February 2016.

Murray, who stayed in the hotel the night before the murder, had been diagnosed with rapidly deteriorating - and terminal - motor neurone disease.

He died at 10.50pm on Wednesday at his home in Townsend Street in Strabane, Co Tyrone.

His funeral will take place at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Strabane, at 10am on Saturday. Extra PSNI resources are expected to be deployed on the day.

Dissident

Last night, sources said that it is not expected that he will be afforded a paramilitary funeral by his former dissident republican associates.

Murray's pal Michael Barr (35), who was shot dead by the Kinahan cartel as part of the capital's deadly gangland feud, had such a funeral in Strabane in May of last year.

The PSNI arrested 15 men for terrorism offences at Barr's funeral, where the cortege was flanked by dozens of men in paramilitary uniform, with berets, sunglasses and covered faces.

"The feeling is that this will not happen at Murray's ­funeral," a source said last night. "The reason that he may not be honoured by the New IRA is because of his involvement in criminality and in particular the Hutch gang."

Murray was identified by gardai for his role in the Regency Hotel bloodbath just hours after he participated in the shocking gun attack, in which two other men were seriously injured.

It is thought he was not paid a single cent by the Hutch mob for his role in the murder.

He fled to his home in Northern Ireland, where the PSNI had to mount a number of special operations to protect him, because of fears that the Kinahan cartel would murder him.

As Murray's health continued to deteriorate, gardai in Dublin arrested a north inner city man in May of last year, charging him with Byrne's murder, as well as possessing three AK-47 assault rifles in connection with the fatal shooting.

This suspect had allegedly been disguised as a woman during the Regency Hotel shooting.

He will be tried at the non-jury Special Criminal Court. With Hutch arrested and charged, gardai continued to build a careful case against 'Flat Cap' and, by this time last year, they had enough evidence to charge him with murder.

Officers used facial recognition software to formally identify Murray.

A European Arrest Warrant was issued and Murray was lifted by armed PSNI officers at his Strabane home at 6pm on September 5, 2016.

He appeared at Belfast Recorder's Court the following day.

Extradition

A major legal battle ensued, as Murray indicated he would be fighting his extradition to the Republic on health grounds.

In fact at his first court appearance, he had to be helped into the dock by two police officers, as it was revealed that he was battling motor neurone disease.

Last December, it was estimated that he had only a few months to live.

His family was informed last week by doctors that there was nothing more that they could do.

A Northern Irish judge ruled in May of this year that he was too ill to stand trial in relation to the Regency murder.

A court heard that Murray was confined to his bed and was being fed through a tube.

The judge ruled that his rapidly deteriorating health meant he could not be extradited here to stand trial for murder.

Murray's lawyers had argued against his extradition on the grounds that he would be unlikely to stand trial given his condition.

Murray was part of a five-man hit team involved in the Regency Hotel attack, but may not have even fired a shot during the bloodbath.

He was the only gunman not disguised, with sources revealing that this may have been due to the fact that none of the Kinahan gang members knew his identity prior to the shooting.

After the shooting, gardai suspect Murray took the AK-47s used back across the border.

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