Under-18s asked to leave court as CCTV footage of Regency Hotel shooting shown; 'not easy to watch'

Under-18s asked to leave court as CCTV footage of Regency Hotel shooting shown; 'not easy to watch'

CCTV of the fatal shooting of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in Dublin almost two years ago has been shown at the Special Criminal Court, writes Daniel Hickey.

The three-judge, non-jury court saw footage today of people dressed as members of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) shoot Mr Byrne in the lobby of the hotel as men, women and children fled the scene.

Patrick Hutch (25) of Champions Avenue, Dublin 1, is pleading not guilty to the murder of Mr Byrne (34) at the Regency Hotel in Dublin on February 5 2016.

Under-18s asked to leave court as CCTV footage of Regency Hotel shooting shown; 'not easy to watch'

It is the prosecution’s case that the accused man went to the hotel that afternoon dressed as a woman and carrying a handgun, and that he shared an intention with five other men to commit the offence.

Mr Hutch also denies possessing three AK47 assault rifles in connection with the fatal shooting.

Before the court viewed the CCTV footage today, presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt excluded members of the public under the age of 10 while the footage was being screened after prosecuting counsel Sean Gillane SC had warned that certain portions were not easy to watch.

Cameras both outside and inside the hotel recorded a man in flat cap and a man in a wig getting out of a silver van at 2:28pm, entering the hotel via the laundry room door and walking along a corridor toward the Regency Suite, a function room where the weigh-in was taking place. 

At 2:32pm, the court saw, people were running away from the Regency Suite.

Among those fleeing the hotel was Mr Byrne, the court heard. He was seen running along a corridor outside the lifts, then turning back, before running again toward the reception area.

The court saw the man in the flat cap and man in the wig then run back to the laundry room, before entering the hotel again and looking around.

Footage was also shown to the court of three people dressed in tactical-style garda uniforms and helmets, referred to as "Tacs 1, 2 and 3", getting out the silver van, carrying assault rifles, and running up the steps of the hotel while people were running out.

The court heard that "Tac 1" entered the lobby, spotted Mr Byrne, turned and shot him, and that the victim "crawled" toward the reception before "Tacs 2 and 3" entered the lobby and "Tac 2" turned and shot Mr Byrne while "Tac 3" ran toward the bar.

"Tac 1" looked around the bar and checked the second entrance to the hotel, the court was told.

The court then saw "Tac 2" jumping up on the reception desk and pointing his rifle at a BBC journalist, who had been hiding behind the desk.

"Tac 2" then turned and shot Mr Byrne again, the court saw, before walking down the corridor toward the laundry-room door.

Footage from 2:34pm was also shown of "Tacs 1, 2 and 3", and the man in the flat cap and the man in the wig, getting into the van before it pulled off.

Footage had earlier been shown of six men - one described as appearing to have long hair - running along a lane toward various cars in the carpark of St Vincent’s GAA club at 2:40pm. The court also heard evidence on Monday from various newspaper staff who had been at the Regency Hotel that afternoon to report on the boxing weigh-in.

Colin O’Riordan, photographer with Indepedent News and Media, told Mr Gillane that he saw a silver van parked outside the hotel and heard a "loud bang", which he recognised as a gunshot. 

He told the court that he noticed two men running in the direction of the hotel entrance and his first impression was they were gardaí, dressed in paramilitary-style ERU gear, with helmets and anti-stab jackets, emblazoned on the backs with the word Garda in yellow.

They were carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles, the court heard.

Mr O’Riordan said that he had an iPhone and he took a number of pictures.

He said that he heard another shot from behind him and decided to investigate, before peering around the van and seeing the muzzle of another Kalashnikov.

Mr O’ Riordan heard shots being fired in the reception area, the court heard. 

The witness told Michael O’Higgins SC, for Mr Hutch, that he was not asked by gardaí to attend an identity parade.

Robin Schiller, journalist with the Evening Herald, told Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting, that he was was outside the hotel’s entrance when he heard a loud bang and a man and woman run out, shouting, "It’s all kicking off in there".

He said he saw three men he believed to be ERU come toward him and the person in the middle pointed a gun at him.

The man shouted, "Get down, get fucking down", in a Dublin accent, the court heard.

Mr Schiller said that three people went into the hotel and one them fired a shot.

The witness thought it was a garda raid, the court heard, and he called the Evening Herald newsdesk.

He said that he heard one or two loud bangs and later the three people dressed as ERU members left the hotel and ran toward the van.

The court heard that one of them was shouting, "He’s not in there, he’s not fucking in there, I can’t find him".

Ernest Leslie, freelance photographer, and Alan Sherry, crime correspondent with the Sunday World, were in a car parked outside the hotel, the court heard.

Mr Leslie said that they saw a lot of people running in a "panic" away from the hotel. 

The court heard that Mr Leslie noticed a man with "something in his hand" running toward them from the direction of the carpark so he took photo of the man as he ran.

Mr Sherry said that a man pointed an assault rifle at them and the witness shouted at Mr Leslie to reverse the car.

The court also heard evidence from James McGettigan, who told Mr Gillane that his family owned the Regency Hotel and it was the first time the hotel had hosted a boxing-associated event.

He said he was in the bar when he saw three people armed with guns, who he thought were members of the gardaí.

One of the gunmen shot a man coming from the Regency Suite area, the court heard.

Mr McGettigan said that a man wearing a uniform ran into the bar and asked everyone to lie on the ground, then left the bar.

The court heard that the man who had been shot fell in the reception.

"It was very surreal," the witness said.

He said that the men dressed as ERU members were "very aggressive" and that he realized "maybe a robbery was about to take place".

He said that he had never seen guards behave like that before.

"I knew something more sinister was happening," Mr McGettigan added.

He said that when the man dressed as a guard left the bar, he made a break for it and went to see if he could get help.

He described looking outside and expecting to see riot squad cars but none were there.

He got a "bad feeling", the court heard, and told the staff to call the guards.

He said that they said the guards were already there but he then said, "They’re not guards".

Patricia Dolan, the court heard, was in the hotel attending a book-club for retired teachers when a man in an ERU uniform came into the bar.

She thought there was a stag party on in the hotel and it was a "prank".

Joe Brady, a paramedic, told the court that he arrived on the scene and pronounced Mr Byrne dead. There were bullet shell casings around the deceased man, the court heard.

The paramedic said that the smell in the reception was "exactly like a firing-range".

The trial continues in front of Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Patricia Ryan and Judge Ann Ryan.

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