Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Alison O'Riordan

A builder accused of participating in the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne at the Regency Hotel was working at a house miles to the north around 15 minutes after the attack, an alibi witness has told the Special Criminal Court.

Earlier after 13 weeks of evidence and in the trial’s 50th day, the State concluded its case against Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch, who is charged with the murder of Mr Byrne, and his two co-accused who deny participating in the murder by providing access to vehicles.

After the conclusion of the prosecution case on Tuesday, lawyers for Mr Hutch’s co-accused Jason Bonney called their first witness to give evidence on his behalf.

Gerard 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 5th, 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 5th, 2016.

It is the prosecution’s case that Mr Bonney was driving a black BMW X5 on the day of the murder and had transported a man in a flat cap, who minutes earlier had raided the Regency Hotel, from St Vincent’s GAA grounds.

Birthday party

Julie McGlynn gave evidence in Mr Bonney’s defence on Tuesday and told defence counsel John Fitzgerald SC that she grew up on Newbrook Avenue in Donaghmede and that her mother was living in the house in February 2016. She said she knew Mr Bonney “30-odd years”.

The witness said she was in her mother’s house on the morning of February 5th, 2016, as she was having a party there for her then 13-year-old son. Her mother went to mass at 10am and Ms McGlynn was getting things ready for the party.

At 11am or a bit afterwards, the witness said there was a knock at the front door and Mr Willie Bonney, the accused’s father who has since died, was looking for her mother.

Ms McGlynn said she gave Willie Bonney a cup of tea when there was another knock at the door and accused Jason Bonney was standing there. She said there was “just chit-chat” before both men left her mother’s house around 11.30am.

“I walked the two of them out to the front gate. Jason went across the house [on the opposite side of the road] and Willie got into the jeep and drove off,” she said.

Asked if the SUV in the book of photographs looked familiar to her, Ms McGlynn said it looked like the BMW X5 that Willie drove off in that morning as her sister has the same vehicle.

The witness said she saw Jason Bonney later on that day after she picked her children up from the bus at 2.35pm, which is beside Donaghmede Shopping Centre. She arrived back at her mother’s house between 2.45pm and 2.50pm and couldn’t get into the driveway as there was a truck parked outside the house.

Ms McGlynn went across the road and asked “the lads” in the garden where Jason Bonney was as she had seen him driving the truck previously. They called Jason Bonney out and he apologised to the witness before moving the truck. Jason handed her son, who was in the car, “a tenner for his birthday”. She said the conversation with accused Jason Bonney “definitely” took place shortly before 3pm as she had collected the children from the bus.

The trial has heard that Mr Byrne was shot in the lobby of the hotel at around 2.32pm on February 5th. CCTV footage has also been shown of six people on Charlemont Lane – including a man in a wig pulling a suitcase and a man with a flat cap carrying a bag – running along a lane towards various cars at St Vincent’s GAA club at 2.40pm.

Cross-examination

Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, told the witness under cross-examination that there are two people who are very important to the story – William Bonney and his wife, Greta Bonney.

Mr Gillane put it to her that her “story” was never formalised, never expressed by her on paper and never brought to anyone’s attention until such time as both of these people unfortunately had passed away.

Mr Gillane put it to the witness that Willie Bonney had resided at Donaghmede Drive when he arrived at her mother’s house to use the toilet and that coincidentally she happened to be there organising a party for her son. Ms McGlynn agreed with this.

Asked how Willie Bonney got to the house, the witness said she couldn’t answer that but that anytime she saw Willie he was in a car. She said she hadn’t seen his Lexus parked outside her mother’s house that morning or at the house across the road.

“If Willie Bonney left in a vehicle that wasn’t his own, in Jason’s jeep, the vehicle he arrived in would still be there, did you notice that?” asked Mr Gillane. Ms McGlynn said she hadn’t.

She said Willie Bonney had told her that he was waiting for Jason to come back to him with the BMW.

Mr Gillane said another oddity about her statement was that anytime she referred to the BMW she called it Willie’s jeep but that it was Jason’s jeep. “I saw Willie Bonney driving the jeep more than I saw Jason,” she said.

It was put to the witness that the very distinct impression she had sought to give in her statement was that Willie Bonney was coming to get the BMW back because his son had kept it. “Jason Bonney hasn’t spoken to him in years,” she said.

The court has already heard that the defence case for Mr Bonney will be that on February 5th, he never drove his BMW, which the prosecution say was used in the attack, south of Newbrook Avenue, Donaghmede, [north of the Regency Hotel] but his father did.

Bonney Construction

Detective Garda Ronan McMurrow gave evidence yesterday and said it was not in dispute that the accused’s BMW X5 was registered to ‘Bonney Construction’, a company Mr Bonney told gardaí in interview his father had owned and was now dormant. The accused said he had been driving the BMW since his father stopped working.

Mr Bonney told gardaí in his interviews he had the BMW X5 a couple of years, that he had a falling out with his father over a family matter and that he had not spoken to him in the previous two years.

The trial will continue this afternoon before Ms Justice Burns sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone, when Mr Gillane will continue his cross-examination of the witness.

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 is central to the case of Mr Bonney and Mr Murphy.

Defence barrister Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr Hutch, told presiding judge Ms Justice Tara Burns that the defence are not calling any evidence on his behalf nor will his client take the stand. Bernard Condon SC, defending Paul Murphy, said his legal team would not be calling evidence either.

Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, informed the judges that the prosecution had disclosed a statement to Mr Bonney’s barrister Mr John Fitzgerald SC relating to a witness which the prosecution proposed to call in respect of his client’s alibi and after the “alibi evidence is itself produced”.

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 cooperated with the “tactical team” that raided the Regency Hotel on February 5th. Mr Murray died from motor neurone disease in 2017 before he could be brought to trial.

Mr Murphy’s light coloured Toyota Avensis taxi and a BMW X5 which the prosecution say was driven by Mr Bonney on the day 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.

Mr Byrne, from Crumlin, was shot dead at the hotel in Whitehall, Dublin 9 after five men, three disguised as armed gardaí in tactical clothing and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, stormed the building during the attack, which was hosting a boxing weigh-in at the time. The victim was shot by two of the tactical assailants and further rounds were delivered to his head and body.

Mr Byrne died after suffering catastrophic injuries from six gunshots fired from a high-velocity weapon to the head, face, stomach, hand and legs.

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