Two long-time friends of the Hutch family have received combined jail sentences totalling 17-and-a-half years at the Special Criminal Court for acting as getaway drivers during the notorious Regency Hotel attack in 2016 during which Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne was murdered.
Presiding judge Ms Justice Tara Burns said today the two convicted men Paul Murphy and Jason Bonney had provided “intentional and organised assistance to the Hutch organisation”, which she called significant.
She said the court could not find that either of the two defendants knew exactly what was to happen, but they knew a “serious criminal event was planned” involving six men that needed to be removed from the scene.
Paul Murphy (61), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin was jailed for nine years and his co-accused Jason Bonney (52), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13 was sentenced to eight-and-half-years in prison.
Last month following the 52-day trial at the Special Criminal Court, taxi driver Paul Murphy and builder Jason Bonney were found guilty at the Special Criminal Court of facilitating the killing of Mr Byrne, a Kinahan gang member, by acting as getaway drivers in a shooting “orchestrated” by the rival Hutch criminal organisation.
The pair had been at the gang’s “centre of operations” at Buckingham Village in the north inner city from where the hit team left on February 5th 2016 to travel to the Regency hotel and carry out the attack.
Delivering judgement at the non-jury court on April 17th the three judges found that Bonney was the sole driver of a BMW X5 throughout that day and was driving the jeep at Bella Street in the north inner city and at St Vincent’s GAA car park when one of the gunmen, dissident republican Kevin Murray, known as “Flat Cap”, got into his jeep after the Regency attack. Mr Murray died from motor neurone disease in 2017 before he could be brought to trial.
In its judgement the court also found that Murphy had used his silver Avensis taxi to pick up one of the gunmen at St Vincent’s car park. Murphy had told gardaí that he was working as a taxi driver on the afternoon of the Regency attack and that receipts in the taxi would support this.
Having regard to Murphy’s movements on the day the Special Criminal Court was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that at the very least the fare receipts were “inaccurate” and did not establish that Murphy was engaged on these fares at the times asserted, if at all.
The prosecution’s case against the two convicted men was that they were both present in Bella Street on the morning of February 5th.
They say they had travelled in a convoy with another four cars to St Vincent’s GAA club from Donnycarney Church car park, and after the Regency attack they each drove one of the hitmen from St Vincent’s GAA club, along with the other four cars, intending or being reckless as to whether such activity could facilitate the commission of a serious offence, by the Hutch criminal organisation.
The court heard on Monday during the sentence hearing that Bonney has no previous convictions, once ran a building company employing 10 people and had not been “on garda radar” prior to this offence.
Defence counsel Bernard Condon SC, for Paul Murphy, submitted to the three-judge court during the sentence hearing that his client ought to be considered to be at the lowest level of ladder of responsibility.
“Many people were involved at all sorts of levels, there was no evidence of any level of organisation whatsoever in relation to Mr Murphy,” he said.
The non-jury court has heard that Murphy has 67 previous convictions which include public order offences, road traffic offences, larceny and criminal damage.
They have all been dealt with at District Court level. Mr Murphy, the court heard, had changed his name by deed poll from Christopher Ryan to Paul Murphy in 1987.
In its judgement the Special Criminal Court agreed with the State’s case that Murphy’s silver Toyota Avensis taxi and Bonney’s black BMW X5 jeep were part of a convoy of six cars.
The cars parked up at St Vincent’s GAA club grounds in Marino in north Dublin before the Regency shooting on the afternoon of February 5th, 2016 and had then each transported one of the hit men from St Vincent’s GAA car park.
It was the prosecution’s case 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 Bonney and Murphy.
Ms Justice Burns said in her judgement that the court was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the existence of the Hutch Criminal Organisation and that the defendants Murphy and Bonney knew of its existence when they provided access to their individual cars at St Vincent’s GAA club intending to facilitate the commission of a serious offence by the Hutches.
She also said that the court was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the Regency attack, during which David Byrne was shot dead, was orchestrated by the Hutch criminal organisation.
Crime figure Gerard “The Monk” Hutch was acquitted last month by the Special Criminal Court for the murder of Mr Byrne and walked from court a free man.
In acquitting Mr Hutch, the Special Criminal Court found that it could not rely on the unsupported evidence of the former Sinn Féin councillor and convicted torturer Jonathan Dowdall.
It also found that surveillance audio recordings of a conversation between Dowdall and Mr Hutch did not corroborate Dowdall’s claim that Mr Hutch had confessed to being one of the hitmen at the Regency Hotel where Mr Byrne was shot dead.
The three-judge, non-jury Special Criminal Court heard that the shooting took place during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel. A man dressed as a woman and another man wearing a flat cap, who were armed with handguns, stormed the hotel followed by three people dressed in tactical-style garda uniforms carrying assault rifles.
Mr Byrne (33), from Crumlin, was shot dead at the hotel in Whitehall, Dublin 9 after five men raided the building, 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.