IRA man caught with guns used in Regency Hotel attack already out of jail having done his time
EXCLUSIVE: Rowan, who was also convicted to four concurrent years in prison for IRA membership — was freed in October of 2021 — after spending just five years behind bars in total.
The IRA man caught with the three rifles used in the Regency Hotel attack has already been released from prison, we can reveal.
Donegal man Shane Rowan (44), who was caught driving a vehicle carrying the three AK-47 type rifles in March 2016, walked free from prison late last year, we have learned.
Rowan, who was also convicted to four concurrent years in prison for IRA membership — was freed in October of 2021 — after spending just five years behind bars in total.
Sources say Rowan was freed due to standard remission on his sentence.
Rowan’s name has come to prominence in the past two weeks with it coming up several times during the ongoing Special Criminal Court trial of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch.
That is because it is now alleged that Gerry Hutch himself and Jonathan Dowdall met with Rowan at his home in Killygordon in Co Donegal on February 20, 2016 — 15 days after the Regency Hotel attack
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Another revelation from The Monk’s non-jury trial is the allegation that his brother Patsy Hutch also met with Rowan — this time on the very evening he was caught with the rifles — March 9, 2016.
Rowan is alleged to have sat in a Toyota Yaris with Patsy Hutch in a car park near Woodies DIY in the Malahide Industrial Estate — before he left in the Insignia and was caught some 34 minutes later in the Slane area of Co Meath by gardai.
Rowan was caught after the Vauxhall Insignia he was driving was intercepted by members of the Garda Special Detective Unit.
As Rowan’s trial heard in July 2016, he was pulled over by gardai who subsequently discovered three assault rifles, as well as three magazines in the boot of his car.
And during Hutch’s trial it has been heard how Detective Garda David O’Leary from the Garda Technical Bureau examined the weapons.
The ballistics garda stated he was able to determine that cartridge cases found at the Regency Hotel matched three AK-47s seized in Meath.
Through microscopic examination and comparison with the guns, he said he was able to determine that the cartridges had been fired from the same weapons seized from Rowan’s car.
The officers who intercepted the car on the evening of March 9 have also given detailed evidence about that day.
Inspector Patrick Boyce told the court that a vehicle, a grey Vauxhall Insignia was stopped and Shane Rowan was the driver.
Inspector Boyce said the boot of the car was opened and his attention was brought to three assault rifles that he recognised to be AK-47 rifles.
Ammunition was also recovered and Mr Rowan was arrested at the scene at around 7:10pm.
Inspector Joseph Finnegan, who the court heard at the time of March 9, 2016 was a Detective Sergeant, also gave evidence about the discovery.
He identified the car that was being driven by Shane Rowan and signalled it to stop by putting on blue lights and sirens.
The driver complied and showed his hands when asked, he said.
He examined the rear of the vehicle and discovered what he would describe as AK-47 rifles, magazines and ammunition.
Detective Garda Rory Guerin of the Special Detective Unit in Harcourt square was next to give evidence.
He said he was made aware of the discovery of the Vauxhall and formed part of the escort that then conveyed the vehicle to Drogheda Garda Station for examination.
Inside the vehicle the weapons were recovered along with other items such as cable ties, bags and towels.
Two of the guns were wrapped in t-shirts, the court heard.
The guns were later brought to the ballistic section of Garda Headquarters for further analysis, the court heard.
As this paper revealed on that day in 2016, the guns were later found to be the same ones used in the Regency Hotel attack on February 5 of that year.
On that date Kinahan cartel associate David Byrne was blasted to death in the reception area of the hotel by a tactical team dressed as gardai and armed with the rifles.
A gunman identified as being ‘Tactical One’ shot David Byrne upon running into him inside the lobby area — while ‘Tactical Two’ fired further shots at him after jumping on top of the Reception desk and looking down at him.
The gunmen armed with the rifles formed part of a six-man hit team that arrived at the Regency Hotel in a silver van and stormed the building during a boxing weigh-in event.
Their target — mob boss Daniel Kinahan, managed to flee the scene — while Byrne — a key associate of his cartel, was murdered.
Former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall was earlier this month sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to facilitating the murder of Byrne.
His father Patrick Dowdall meanwhile was sentenced to two years in connection to it — with both men playing a role in the booking of a hotel room that was used by one of the hit-team — ‘Flat Cap’ gunman Kevin Murray.
Jonathan Dowdall has now given a statement to the prosecution and is set to take the witness stand against Mr Hutch.
The court has been told that Dowdall alleges several meet-ups with Gerry Hutch in the days following the Regency Hotel attack, including an alleged meeting in a Dublin park where he claims ‘The Monk’ told him “that he had been one of the team that shot David Byrne in the Regency.”
Prosecuting Counsel Sean Gillane told the court on the opening day of the trial that the State will allege that the Regency Hotel attack was “carried out by a group of people — of which Mr Hutch was one