A court in Dublin has seen CCTV footage of the moment a man was shot dead by hitmen armed with assault rifles during a boxing weigh-in event.
Gerry Hutch, 59, pleaded not guilty to the murder of David Byrne, 34, at the city’s Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016.
A team of five gunmen, three of them dressed as police tactical squad and carrying AK47-type weapons, attacked the weigh-in in the Irish Hutch-Kinahan gang feud which has so far claimed 18 lives.
Today, the Special Criminal Court without a jury was able to view video evidence from hotel security cameras.
In the footage, as panicked attendees flee the hotel, David Byrne can be seen being shot by the first police impostor, described by the prosecution as ‘Tactical One’, before being shot again by “Tactical Two”.
He collapses at the foot of the reception desk, his lower body, dressed in gray tracksuit bottoms and white sneakers, visible in the frame.
Footage then showed Tactical Two jumping onto the reception desk to investigate another man taking cover, before turning around and firing at least one more shot at David Byrne’s prone body.
Cartridges are seen ejected from assault rifles and bloodstains are visible on the floor.
Minutes earlier, two other gunmen, one wearing a wig and disguised as a woman, were filmed walking arm in arm through the hotel. They opened fire with handguns, triggering the exodus to the hotel’s main entrance where the three armed “policemen” entered and began firing.
The five-person team then fled to a waiting silver Ford Transit van and were chased away by a sixth accomplice.
CCTV footage has not been released to the media.
“Catastrophic gunshot wounds to the head”
An autopsy showed that David Byrne had died of six gunshot wounds sustained by a high-velocity weapon.
Giving evidence via video link today, former Assistant State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis told the court that when he inspected Mr Byrne’s remains at the crime scene, the body was showed evidence of “catastrophic gunshot wounds to either side of the head”.
Dr Curtis said the deceased was shot in the right eyebrow and again in the right side of his face. Another bullet entered David Byrne’s abdomen through the waistband of his underpants. Another bullet passed through his right hand, while a fifth bullet passed through both Mr. Byrne’s thighs. There was also another gunshot wound to the right thigh.
A deformed bullet was found loose in the victims’ clothing, after leaving the body. Two teeth from artificial dental plaque were found in the hood of his coat.
“This man died of six gunshot wounds from a high-velocity weapon,” Dr Curtis said. “The injuries sustained would have proved quickly if not instantly fatal.”
‘Get out of here’
Earlier, the trial heard from eyewitnesses present during the attack at the hotel.
Press photographer Colin O’Riordan told the court how, after hearing at least a dozen shots, he came face to face with the alleged police as they walked out of the hotel.
“I took a step back because I was afraid for my life,” he said. “I tried to make myself as non-threatening as possible. I put my hands up and said ‘Guard, I don’t know where I should be’, taking a step back.”
The gunmen walked past him, holding their assault rifles across their bodies, he said.
Mr O’Riordan told the court that journalist Robin Schiller had earlier told him he had seen Daniel Kinahan at the hotel before the shooting began.
The photographer then testified that he heard one of the gang members say “he wasn’t there, I couldn’t find him”, while another said “get out of here” before they only climb back into the silver van and escape.
“There was a lot of shouting and shouting,” Mr O’Riordan said.
‘Masked Gardai’ rushed to the hotel bar
The Regency hotel manager in 2016, James McGettigan, testified that the doors to the bar area suddenly opened, and “a masked Gardai” rushed towards the bar in a “very aggressive” manner.
One of them shouted for everyone to lie down, which those present immediately did.
“They shouted that they were looking for boxers, and where were they,” Mr McGettigan said. He stood in front of one of the gunmen in police gear and said he could see his eyes and suspected he was not a real policeman due to his young age and short stature.
Mr McGettigan then locked himself in another room and attempted to call 999, although he said it took three attempts to contact the police.
Gerry Hutch was extradited from Spain to Ireland in August 2021 to stand trial for murder. Two other men, Paul Murphy, 59, and Jason Bonney, 50, are also charged with aiding in the commission of the murder by providing vehicles.
The trial of the three men is expected to last at least 12 weeks.