Gerard "the Monk" Hutch, 60, has been found not guilty of the murder of Kinahan gang member David Byrne that occurred at the Regency Hotel in Dublin in 2016.
The non-jury Special Criminal Court in Dublin delivered the verdict on Monday afternoon, April 17 after listening to 52 days of evidence in what has been dubbed the "trial of the century."
Two co-accused were found guilty of lesser charges connected with the 2016 murder.
Jason Bonney, 52, from Portmarnock in Dublin, was found guilty of participating in Byrne's murder by providing access to motor vehicles on February 5, 2016.
Paul Murphy, a 61-year-old taxi driver from Swords, was found guilty of the same charge.
Notorious crime figure Gerard "The Monk" Hutch has been acquitted of murdering David Byrne during the centrepiece attack of the Hutch/Kinahan gang feud at the Regency Hotel in 2016. pic.twitter.com/s7HMaHlAUU— Courts News Ireland (@courtsnewsIRL) April 17, 2023
Justice Tara Burns said on Monday that the Special Criminal Court (SCC) was satisfied that a Hutch criminal organization exists and that it planned the attack in the Regency Hotel.
The prosecution claimed that Gerard Hutch, 60, was one of two men who shot Byrne on February 5, 2016. Hutch denied the charge.
The main evidence against Hutch was the testimony of Jonathan Dowdall, a former Sinn Féin councillor who testified that Hutch collected key cards for a room in the Regency Hotel from him on the night of February 4, 2016.
Dowdall also said that Hutch told him that he was one of the shooters when the pair met in a park in Whitehall a few days after the attack.
Dowdall had been charged with the murder of Byrne, but the charges were dropped to a lesser charge of facilitating the murder by booking a hotel room following Dowdall's plea deal last September.
Dowdall told the SCC that his father Patrick was asked by a member of the Hutch gang to book the room for a "friend."
Before the beginning of Hutch's trial, Dowdall and his father were jailed for four and two years respectively on the facilitation charge.
On Monday, Mary Lou McDonald, the President of Sinn Féin, said in a statement: “In relation to false and deeply offensive comments made about me during the course of this trial, I want to set out the facts.
“I have never met Gerard Hutch. I have never received money or electoral support from Gerard Hutch. The record shows, that I have stood resolutely on the side of the community in the fight against criminal gangs, drug dealers, and anti-social elements, and I will continue to do so.
“Jonathan Dowdall should never have been a member of Sinn Féin. Had I known what he would become involved in he would not have been a party member for one minute, never mind running for public office – I would not tolerate that.”
Sinn Féin Leader @MaryLouMcDonald responds to judgement in Regency casehttps://t.co/MpcmvvOZCC pic.twitter.com/tEGEAykNaU— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) April 17, 2023
Delivering a lengthy judgment on Monday, Justice Burns said Dowdall's evidence was not reliable to sustain a conviction unless it was corroborated.
Referring to Dowdall's allegation that Hutch confessed to the murder in a park shortly after the attack had taken place, Justice Burns said it was dangerous to convict somebody on the uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice who was about to enter the witness protection program.
The judge described Dowdall as a "ruthless, callous, base" criminal who was acting in his own self-interest. She said the court must ask a "real question" of who it is dealing with when it comes to Dowdall and claimed that his testimony should be approached with skepticism and extreme care.
She said the prosecution had claimed that Hutch was one of the shooters on February 5, 2016. CCTV footage showed shooters running around the Regency Hotel at a fast pace.
She said there was a reasonable possibility that Hutch, who is in his sixties, does not fit the movement of the shooters, adding that such a possibility must be examined.
Justice Burns also said the prosecution did not attempt to convict Hutch for planning the attack.
The judge said the court was satisfied that Hutch was in possession of three of the rifles used in the shooting by March 7, 2016, but added that this does not prove that he had possession of the weapons before the shooting. She said it was a reasonable possibility that the attack was planned by other members of the Hutch crime gang and that Gerard Hutch stepped in as head of the family in the aftermath as there was a threat to his life.
The ongoing feud between the Hutch and Kinahan gangs has claimed the lives of 18 people so far.