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Charges dropped against Regency Hotel murder accused Patrick Hutch

A Garda cordon outside the Regency Hotel in Dublin after the incident

PATRICK Hutch walked free from the Special Criminal Court after charges against him for the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in Dublin were dropped.

Mr Hutch (26) of Champions Avenue, Dublin 1, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Byrne (34) on February 5 2016.

The three-judge, non-jury court heard the shooting took place during a boxing weigh-in. A man dressed as a woman and another wearing a flat cap, armed with handguns, followed by three people dressed in tactical-style Garda uniforms, carrying assault rifles, raided the venue.

It was the state's case that Mr Hutch was the man dressed as a woman and that, although he did not shoot Mr Byrne, was part of a "shared intention" to commit the offence.

Mr Hutch had also denied possessing three AK47 assault rifles in connection with the shooting.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sean Gillane, said the state was no longer in a position to lead evidence on matters "sadly" as a result of the death of the lead investigating Garda, Detective Superintendent Colm Fox.

Mr Fox was found dead on the evening of February 10 in his office at Ballymun Garda Station. His official firearm was recovered at the scene, foul play was not suspected and it was treated as a personal tragedy. The trial had been stalled at the time over the disclosure by the prosecution of emails between four gardai.

Notes written by the late superintendent were handed into the court and read by the three judges. The court was subsequently told that a report into the death was being prepared.

Counsel for Mr Hutch, Michael O'Higgins, today said his client had pleaded not guilty and this remained his client's position.

Members of the Byrne family stood up and called the situation "disgraceful" and a "farce".

Opening the prosecution's case in January 2018, Mr Gillane told the court that on February 5, 2016, the hotel was hosting a weigh-in for a boxing event scheduled for the following day.

As the weigh-in commenced, a silver van parked outside the hotel and a few minutes later, a man wearing a flat cap and a man wearing a wig got out and walked toward the hotel. There was "gunfire, gunshots and cracking sounds" and "immediate panic ensued".

Mr Gillane said that the man with the wig and the man with the flat cap were observed carrying handguns, running down the corridor following or chasing people toward a larger function room, where there were emergency exits.

The same silver van proceeded through the security gate and pulled up in front of the hotel before three individuals dressed as gardai, in armed tactical style uniforms, got out of the van and went to the hotel's entrance, carrying assault rifles.

He said shots were immediately discharged from the weapons, which caused "all-round panic with people running in opposite directions", and that the manner in which the three people were dressed caused further confusion, with some believing they were in fact gardai, arriving to deal with the incident.

Mr Byrne, was in a group running toward the main reception when he was shot by one of the men in garda uniform, with an assault rifle, and shot again by another of the men dressed as a guard.

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