After hearing evidence for 52 days, the Special Criminal Court will deliver a judgment in April in the trial of Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch, who is charged with the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne at the Regency Hotel, and his two co-accused who deny participating in the murder.
Presiding judge Ms Justice Tara Burns, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone, said the court would notify parties if the judgment for the three accused is available before April 17 next.
Earlier on the final day of the trial, the defence barrister for a builder, who denies participating in the murder of Mr Byrne, gave his closing speech to the non-jury court submitting that there are a number of holes in the prosecution's case.
Senior counsel John Fitzgerald, for Jason Bonney, noted that the case put forward by the DPP to associate his client with a BMW X5 jeep "at all times" and specifically at St Vincent's GAA grounds on February 5, 2016, was a "light or thin case". Mr Bonney's jeep is alleged to have been used by him to transport a man in a flat cap, who minutes earlier had raided the Regency Hotel, away from St Vincent's GAA grounds on the day of the shooting.
The State's case is that the late dissident republican Kevin Murray was the man seen wearing a flat cap when Mr Byrne was killed and that he co-operated with the "tactical team" that raided the Regency Hotel. Mr Murray died from motor neurone disease in 2017 before he could be brought to trial.
Gerard 'The Monk' Hutch (59), last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, denies the murder of Mr Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016.
Mr Hutch's two co-accused - Paul Murphy (61), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co. Dublin, and Jason Bonney (52), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13, have pleaded not guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of Mr Byrne by providing access to motor vehicles on February 5, 2016.
Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, said in his opening address that "an integral part of the operation" which led to Mr Byrne's death was the means by which the tactical team escaped, which was central to the case of Mr Bonney and Mr Murphy.
A BMW X5 jeep, which the prosecution say was driven by Mr Bonney on the day, and Mr Murphy's light-coloured Toyota Avensis taxi are alleged to have been part of a convoy that parked up at St Vincent's GAA club grounds before the shooting and then transported the assailants from the Regency Hotel shooting after a Ford transit van was abandoned.
It is Jason Bonney's defence that on February 5 he never drove his jeep, which the prosecution say was used in the attack, south of Newbrook Avenue, Donaghmede, [north of the Regency Hotel] but his father William Bonney did.
Closing the defence case for Mr Bonney on Thursday, John Fitzgerald SC said he would be suggesting to the court that there are a number of holes in the prosecution's case.
Counsel said there was no obligation on his client to put anything into the case but he had by way of interview and the answers he gave gardaí. He said on February 21, 2016, Mr Bonney put into the case that he was in the vicinity of Newbrook Avenue at the time of the Regency shooting.
The second aspect of the case, he said, was that there was a transfer of the jeep on the day and that the vehicle was driven south of the location by his father William Bonney where the accused always maintained it was. However, he said Jason Bonney had not made that case when he was "doorstepped" by gardaí and had an uncautioned conversation with them on February 21 followed up by two interviews on May 27, 2016.
Evidence has been given that now-retired Detective Garda Alan Crummey said he went to Mr Bonney's house on February 21, 2016, the day after the BMW X5 was seized but the accused declined to make a statement. On the day, Mr Bonney said he was working between an extension on his own house in Portmarnock and a home renovation at Newbrook Avenue, Donaghmede. He said he was going back and forth between the two sites and was using his BMW X5.
Counsel acknowledged that there was always a danger of putting something into a case that can detract from the focus of a criminal trial but submitted the DPP's case put forward to associate Mr Bonney with the jeep at all times on February 5 and specifically at St Vincent's GAA grounds was a "light or thin case".
Why he said that, the lawyer stated, was because towards the end of the case — when the strands were being pulled together by Garda Michele Purcell and intelligence analyst Sarah Skedd — he had asked them to confirm what the State's case showed and Ms Skedd was the first to concede the limits of her analysis.
"There was nothing to show that Mr Bonney himself through his phone or being seen on CCTV had travelled south of where he claimed to have been all along," he submitted.
Furthermore, Mr Fitzgerald said the accused's phone didn't go south of Donaghmede Shopping Centre. In case there was a sinister suggestion that Mr Bonney's phone was turned off, he said Ms Skedd was clear to say that his phone was not turned off at that time and all that happened was he did not make a call or send a text.
Mr Fitzgerald said there was no issue in the case about his client's phone. However, he said the use of the jeep, registered to his father's dormant company and address, was a much more complicated matter.
Detective Garda Ronan McMurrow has testified it was not in dispute that the accused's BMW X5 jeep was registered to 'Bonney Construction', a company Mr Bonney told gardaí in interview his now deceased father had owned and was now dormant. The accused said he had been driving the jeep since his father stopped working.
Counsel drew the judge's attention to the State's case that the driver of the jeep did not change throughout the day and that the person seen getting into the vehicle outside Drumnigh Woods was the same person, "unchanging throughout the various stops". "Absent of any identification of Jason Bonney south of Newbrook Avenue," he added.
Going through the evidence in relation to the jeep, Mr Fitzgerald said the State had adopted "a slightly mixed bag approach" and stated that because his client was in the car between 11.38am and 1.18pm that the only reasonable inference to draw was that he was in the car for the entire day.
"It that really the only reasonable inference to draw? Because an individual identifying himself in a car on two brief occasions that is enough to cover a six-hour period. I say it's not". He said the court had to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver of the jeep did not change that day.
The barrister submitted it was telling that the State relied on the only reasonable inference in the case rather than independent evidence. "The basis for the only reasonable inference is alarmingly light," he said.
Counsel said the jeep did not take a "simple path" during the afternoon of February 5 and went "off radar" completely at points, deviations which he said were unexplained by the State, were inconsistent and departed from the path of a person on "a one-man mission".
He said these deviations and absences "are more consistent with the case made by Jason Bonney" that there was a changeover of drivers at Newbrook Avenue.
"Anyone with a scintilla of sense and even the dogs in the street know that CCTV footage and phones are ubiquitous and can be traced. If on an operation of this kind why deviate, it is unexplained by the Director and more consistent with the case put forward by Jason Bonney," he argued.
He referred to the evidence given by Mr Bonney's first defence witness Julie McGlynn, who said she saw the BMW X5 jeep being driven away by Willie Bonney about 11.30am on February 5 and that she saw the accused working at his house renovation miles to the north around 15 minutes after the Regency attack.
A second defence witness Peter Tyrell, who counsel said had "his differences" with the Bonneys in the past, also gave evidence that he was driving from Coolock to his home in Artane on the afternoon of February 5 when a black jeep came up behind.
“I seen the jeep coming very close to me and I looked in the mirror and I said Jesus, that’s Willie Bonney driving that jeep,” Mr Tyrell said. “He came up close to me and I said bloody hell, I wonder what’s going on?” He drove into his front driveway and the jeep drove on.
The barrister also pointed to the evidence of Garda Keith Cassidy who said the BMW X5 was "spotless and there was a fresh smell coming from inside" when he seized the jeep two weeks after the shooting. Counsel asked what possible relevance this could have; was it to be cleaned to be stripped of the evidence of Kevin Murray and if so why wait two weeks to clean it.
Mr Fitzgerald suggested to the court that his client was left in an invidious position of having to put the life and liberty of a close family member in danger or stick by the original account he gave. "There are ample grounds on which this court can consider that the State has not discharged its weighty responsibility in the case," he concluded.
Previously, Paul Byrne, who was called as a rebuttal witness by the State, said that he and his wife - Jason Bonney's sister - called to her parents' house for lunch at Donaghmede Drive on February 5, 2016, and stayed until after 4pm. Mr Byrne said Willie Bonney did not leave the house at any point and that they heard about the Regency attack on the television or the radio during the afternoon.
It is the prosecution's case that the silver Ford transit van containing six people left the Regency Hotel after the shooting and drove towards Charlemont Estate, where the vehicle was abandoned and burnt out.
The State say the six included a man wearing a wig and dressed as a woman, Kevin Murray who was wearing a flat cap, a driver and three persons dressed in tactical garda clothing. The raiders then made good their escape by using a number of parked vehicles at St Vincent's GAA club.
In his closing speech, Bernard Condon SC for Paul Murphy said the prosecution had failed to prove its case against Mr Murphy to the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. He said the prosecution had offered a "broad brush stroke of propositions and assertions" that were not supported by the evidence.
Mr Condon said the court was being invited to convict based on "guilt by association" and "guilt by suspicion" rather than proof beyond reasonable doubt. He added: "The blanks in the prosecution case cannot be filled in by supposition or suspicion".
Mr Condon also said that to prove the case of facilitating a criminal organisation, the prosecution has to prove the existence of the criminal organisation and that Mr Murphy had knowledge of it. "What exactly is the Hutch organised crime gang?" counsel asked. He said there was "very limited evidence on that" other than that it was an "intergenerational gang".
He said there was no specific evidence that Mr Hutch's brothers, Patsy or Neddie, were members of the Hutch organisation on the day of the Regency murder and no evidence that Patsy Hutch was involved in crime prior to the Regency. Paul Murphy, counsel said, knew Patsy Hutch through his legitimate taxi business.
Mr Condon questioned the quality of CCTV evidence which the prosecution alleges shows his client's taxi in convoy with other cars allegedly used to transport people to and from the Regency attack.
Mr Condon said that his client's silver Toyota Avensis cannot be identified on the CCTV and he pointed out that a taxi driver who gave evidence during the trial said that silver Toyotas are one of the most common cars used as taxis in Dublin.
He said one of the identifying features of the car that the prosecution sought to rely on was that the tax and insurance discs were in the bottom left corner of the windscreen. Mr Condon described that as "practically meaningless" as "99.99% of cars have tax and insurance on the bottom left hand side".
He said the CCTV was not high definition and no number plates or other identifying features could be made out. He questioned whether stickers, tyres and other features pointed to by the prosecution were actually visible or useful as identifiers in much of the footage.
The prosecution also alleged that taxi receipts found in Mr Murphy's car for the day of the shooting were manufactured to provide him with "some kind of alibi". Mr Condon said there was no evidence that the taxi meter had been correctly calibrated and it could have been out by a day or more.
Mr Condon asked the court to ignore a suggestion by his client to gardaí that his taxi could have been "cloned". Counsel said that there has been evidence that cloning is an issue for taxi drivers but in the end Mr Murphy does not rely on that for his defence.
The prosecution also alleged that a key card found in Mr Murphy's car could be used to access Buckingham Village, a residential complex that they said was the "centre" of the operation. Mr Condon said there was no detail given about where exactly the "centre" was.
"Is it in a flat? If so, what flat? Is it more than one flat?". He asked if the centre was a car park, a car, a van, who was at the centre and could a person see and hear what others at the alleged centre were doing.
He said that the prosecution offered Buckingham Village as "the centre of everything and if Mr Murphy's car is there, you can put two and two together and get 600. I say, you can't."
He said there was no evidence of when or how the key card got into Mr Murphy's car. He also said that if Mr Murphy lied about the key card, it could have been out of fear of what might happen if he was linked to the Hutch gang.
When Mr Murphy told gardaí that he didn't know where the key card came from, Mr Condon said Neddie Hutch had already been murdered. Mr Murphy also told gardaí that he didn't want to be seen with members of the Hutch family in what Mr Condon said may have been "an acknowledgement that close involvement with the Hutches is a death sentence."
Counsel said it would be a reasonable inference for the court to draw that if Mr Murphy lied, he did so due to the "fear in this city for people associated with the Hutch family".
Mr Condon questioned how a lie about the key card could move the court to say that the only inference to be drawn was that Mr Murphy was "on the Regency job".
Mr Condon concluded: "A broad brush stroke of propositions and assertions have been made, but a deep dive into the evidence does not support it. Inferences are asked for that cannot be drawn and the proper verdict for Paul Murphy is, not guilty."