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Friday 20 July 2018

Gardai at Regency met a hostile crowd and 'told where to go' by wounded gun victim

The Regency Hotel
The Regency Hotel

The first gardai 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 a man who had been shot in the stomach.

The Special Criminal Court heard that 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, during a boxing weigh-in, were shown to the court as exhibits in the trial of Patrick Hutch Jnr.

The trial also heard that a pathologist's report concluded that the murdered man, David Byrne, was killed "rapidly if not instantaneously" by six gunshots.

Mr Hutch (25), of 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.

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

Agitated

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

Sgt 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.

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

He heard a conversation about the reception area and went there and saw the dead man 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, prosecuting.

Gda Finbar Fleming said he made his way over to a large group of people outside who were "quite irate and upset" and he tried to ascertain what had happened.

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

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

The results of Deputy State Pathologist Dr Mich-ael Curtis' post-mortem examination were read out to the court by Mr Gillane.

He said Mr Byrne had suffered "catastrophic" injur- ies 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."

The report did not make any conclusions about the sequence of the shots.

A toxicology report showed Mr Byrne had diaz- epam, co- deine, pseudo- ephedrine paracetamol and cannabis in his system.

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

Insp Michael Mulligan, who was a sergeant at the time of the attack, said he was off duty that day when he was contacted by and spoke to the hotel general manager and 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 there.

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

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

Det Gda Padraig Boyce gave evidence that he received a briefing that resulted in a Vauxhall Insignia being stopped while it was travelling from north to south at Tuiterath, just outside Slane, Co Meath, on March 9, 2016.

The driver was arrested and three AK47s were found partially concealed in the boot, along with three magazine clips.

Cartridges

Det Gda David O'Leary, of the ballistics section, said that after he arrived at the Regency on February 5, the remains of the deceased were under a crime scene tent and were examined by Dr Curtis before being placed in a body bag and removed.

Paper coffee cups had been placed over discharged cartridge cases on the floor.

He noted eight discharged cartridges in the lobby and another one 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 that 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, including on the stage.

In later testing, Det Gda O'Leary formed the opinion that bullet cases from the scene had been discharged from three Romanian, Chinese and Yugoslavian-made assault rifles that were seized by gardai in the investigation in Co Meath.

A second Det Gda 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.

The three rifles were then presented to the court in evidence as two gardai took them from the rear of the court in clear plastic evidence bags.

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

Gda Martin Halpin said that after he had been to the Regency on the day, he went to the Charlemont Estate where he found a burnt-out silver-coloured Ford Transit van. The court heard that "cooked off" bullet casings were found in and around the van.

Evidence was also given by a witness who was in the function room when the weigh-in took place.

Commotion

Ricardo Guglielminotti said boxer Gary Sweeney had just been weighed-in when he heard a commotion and glasses breaking at the rear of the room.

There were people moving chairs and running out of the room, he said.

Mr Guglielminotti did not see what was causing this, but ran up steps to a platform and got down on the floor.

He was on the floor when he saw the man in what app-eared to be a wig with what he thought was a black pistol in his hand and "kind of scanning the room".

The wig was not level and was "moving".

It was medium length and blonde.

He heard someone say "armed gardai" and as he stood up, a shot was fired.

He saw two men dressed as "tactical emergency response unit" members and saw weapons. Afterwards, he went to help when he saw someone had been injured and people were putting blankets on him.

In cross examination, he agreed with Michael O'Higgins, defending, that he had told gardai the man was wearing the "sloppy-looking" wig carelessly and that it was "messy and falling all over the place".

When he saw the man with the wig turn around, he took refuge and hid.

It was obvious to him that it was a man.

He was not asked to view any identity parade.

The trial at the non-jury court continues before Judges Tony Hunt, Ann Ryan and Patricia Ryan.

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