Gerry “The Monk” Hutch has been found not guilty by a non-jury court of the high-profile murder of David Byrne at a Dublin hotel seven years ago.
Mr Byrne, 33, died after being shot six times at a crowded boxing weigh-in event at Dublin’s Regency Hotel on February 5 2016 in one of the first deadly attacks of the Hutch-Kinahan gangland feud.
The judgment was handed down by the three-judge panel, and read out by Ms Justice Tara Burns.
She said the attack “sparked mayhem on the streets of Dublin” and resulted in a “series of callous murders”.
Responding to the prosecution’s argument that Hutch was one of the six men that carried out the Regency attack, Ms Justice Burns said that key audio evidence does not include an admission by Hutch that he was present.
She said that there was “a reasonable possibility” that the Regency murder was planned by Mr Hutch’s brother Patsy, and that Gerard Hutch had “stepped in” as the head of the family in the aftermath, “particularly as his own life was at risk”.
The 60-year-old, from The Paddocks, Clontarf, appeared to be listening intently using a hearing-aid headset as the judgment was read out in court.
Dressed in a white shirt, navy suit jacket with tan-coloured trousers, and with long hair and a long grey beard, he was seen leaving the Criminal Courts of Justice’s front entrance shortly after the judgment.
He was met with a huge crowd of media before leaving in a taxi.
Ms Justice Burns dismissed the former Sinn Fein councillor’s claims that he had offered to testify because he had found God, and instead said he “he was acting out of his own self-interest”.
A conversation between Hutch and Dowdall as they travelled to Northern Ireland in March 2016, which was secretly taped by Gardai, and a Garda interview conducted with Dowdall in May 2016 were among the key parts of evidence shown during the lengthy murder trial.
Ms Justice Burns said that the audio recordings of the taped conversation with Hutch “does not provide independent evidence” to back up his assertions against Gerard Hutch.
She said that video recordings of Gardai interviewing Dowdall, conducted after the Regency murder, “make for very uncomfortable viewing”.
She said that the manner in which he told “convincing” lies to gardai was “extremely concerning for this court”.
“A real question which this court must ask itself is who is the court dealing with? A significant question mark hangs over Jonathan Dowdall’s character and reliability,” she said.
She added that because of his “pattern of lying and alternate character modes displayed by Dowdall”, the court must approach his “truthfulness about Gerard Hutch with scepticism and extreme care”.
Earlier on Monday, two men were found guilty of charges on facilitating the murder of Mr Byrne.
Paul Murphy, 62, of Cherry Avenue, Swords, was found guilty of a lesser charge relating to the murder of Mr Byrne.
Murphy was charged with providing a motor vehicle to a criminal organisation, with the knowledge of or having been reckless as to whether those actions could facilitate a serious offence, namely, the murder of David Byrne.
Ms Justice Burns said the court is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Murphy’s Toyota Avensis took one of the hitmen from the grounds of St Vincent’s GAA club following the Regency attack.
She said that Murphy had access to a key card to allow entry into Buckingham Village, an apartment complex which Ms Justice Burns described as the “centre of operations” for the attack.
She dismissed the “rehearsed” story that the key card had been left in the taxi by a fare three days earlier.
She said the key card was “clearly” one of several missing from a pack, another of which was found in a wallet also containing Patsy Hutch’s driver’s licence during a search.
On the subject of a number of taxi receipts from the day, she said “on their face” it suggested Murphy was working as a taxi driver during the acts set out by the prosecution.
However, she said the court was satisfied the receipts were not accurate, pointing to fares of very short distances which took a long time and fares which coincided with times Murphy said he was parked to buy and eat a sandwich.
Jason Bonney, 52, of Drumnigh Wood in Portmarnock, was also found guilty of a similar charge relating to Mr Byrne’s murder.
Bonney was charged with providing a motor vehicle to a criminal organisation, with knowledge of or having been reckless as to whether those actions could facilitate a serious offence.
Ms Justice Burns said the court was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Bonney was the sole driver of a distinctive black BMW X5 seen in CCTV footage shown in court.
Ms Justice Burns said the court was satisfied Bonney was present at the “centre of the operations” of the attack.
Ms Justice Burns said that evidence given to the court by a witness that appeared to support Mr Bonney’s defence should be viewed “with scepticism”.
She also said that it was a “bizarre situation” if the witness had “vital exonerating information” about Mr Bonney and did not act on it until approached by a solicitor in relation to the trial.
She said that the court “has been lied to in the most malevolent manner” and that it was “quite frankly amazing” that it could have been believed that these lies would be accepted by the court.
“A dead father has been implicated in the Regency by his son’s witnesses,” she said.
She said that Mr Bonney “knowingly provided access” to his vehicle at St Vincent’s GAA club, where nearby CCTV footage showed the six-man hit team walking shortly after the murder.
Both men have now been taken into custody ahead of a sentence hearing on May 8.
The family members of Mr Byrne were present in the court as the judgment was read out by Ms Justice Burns, sitting alongside judges Sarah Berkeley and Grainne Malone.
The high-profile trial in the non-jury Special Criminal Court in Dublin concluded in January after hearing 52 days of evidence.
The defendant has been held at Dublin’s Wheatfield Prison on remand having been extradited back to Ireland from Spain in September 2021.
There was a police presence outside the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin on Monday morning, and a long queue to get access to the courtroom to hear proceedings.