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Man accused of providing car to help Regency gunmen will claim dad drove SUV that day, trial told

Jason Bonney’s defence will be that he did not drive his BMW in the area at the time of David Byrne’s murder, but his father did

The Regency attack
The Regency attack
Jason Bonney
Jason Bonney

Today at 18:40

A builder accused of providing a car to help the Regency attack team escape will claim his father was driving his SUV on the day, the Special Criminal Court heard.

Jason Bonney’s defence will be that he did not drive his BMW in the area at the time of David Byrne’s murder at the hotel in 2016, but his father did.

The court also heard Mr Bonney himself was not identified on CCTV anywhere other than outside his home address.

Mr Bonney, who is claiming he has an alibi to the charge of facilitation, is on trial alongside murder accused Gerard Hutch.

Meanwhile, one of the state’s final witnesses began evidence today and will continue to testify tomorrow.

Mr Hutch (59), of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Kinahan gang member David Byrne (32) on February 5, 2016.

He was killed when five raiders, three disguised as ERU gardai with assault rifles stormed the hotel.

The attack at a boxing weigh-in fuelled the Kinahan-Hutch gang feud.

The Regency attack
The Regency attack

Mr Bonney (52) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock and Paul Murphy (61) of Cherry Avenue, Swords, deny providing cars for the attack team.

Former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall had been charged with murder but instead pleaded guilty to facilitation, by helping to book a room at the Regency that was used by the raiders. He has alleged in evidence that after the room was booked, it was Gerard Hutch who turned up to collect the keys.

Today, while cross-examining Garda Michelle Purcell, John Fitzgerald SC, for Mr Bonney, indicated what his client’s defence would be.

He said it was the defence case that Mr Bonney did not drive his SUV south of Newbrook Avenue, Donaghmede on the day of the Regency shooting.

This location is to the north east of the Regency Hotel in Whitehall.

“Our case is that the vehicle was driven south of Newbrook Avenue by his father” and he was seen doing so, Mr Fitzgerald said.

Gda Purcell said she could not comment on this but she agreed that while Mr Bonney’s BMWX5 is allegedly seen at various locations on CCTV, he himself is only identified on footage outside his Portmarnock address.

Senior intelligence analyst for the gardai, Sarah Skedd then gave evidence of combining sources of evidence including phone data CCTV footage, number plate recognition and statements to produce spreadsheets, charts, timelines and maps for the court.

Prosecutor Fiona Murphy SC brought her through the evidence, beginning with a purported journey made by Jonathan Dowdall and his father Patrick to Strabane, Co Tyrone on February 4, 2016, the day before the attack.

The court heard their phones travelled north that morning and in the early afternoon, the PSNI called Buncrana garda station to report a car acting suspiciously in Strabane. The registration was Jonathan Dowdall’s Land Cruiser.

At 3.06pm, his wife Patricia’s phone, still in Dublin, called the Regency Hotel before phoning Patrick Dowdall at 3.11pm. There was a similar set of calls from her phone at 3.14pm and 3.16pm.

The car passed back through the M1 toll plaza southbound at 5.04pm and Jonathan and Patrick Dowdall’s phones were back in the Phoenix Park area at 6.15pm.

Jonathan Dowdall has claimed he drove that evening to Richmond Road, where his father handed over the booked hotel room keys to Gerard Hutch.

Ms Skedd’s charts showed how after Patrick Dowdall got the keys from the hotel and left at 7.37pm, his son’s phone connected to the cell site at the Regency as he called him at 7.40pm.

Patrick Dowdall’s phone connected to the cell site at Richmond Builders at 7.45pm.

Ms Skedd also gave evidence of the movements of a light-coloured Toyota Avensis taxi and black BMWX5 which the prosecution says were driven by Mr Murphy and Mr Bonney.

Mr Murphy’s taxi and Mr Bonney’s SUV are both alleged to have been part of a convoy that parked up at St Vincent’s GAA grounds, Marino before the Regency attack and transported the assassination team away afterwards.

The court was shown charts detailing alleged CCTV footage of the taxi’s movements on the day of the murder, alongside Mr Murphy’s phone location data and fare receipts.

Receipts were said to “coincide in time” with journeys on the footage. Ms Skedd noted that the timing of a 1.3km fare started at 1.14pm, when Mr Murphy was seen arriving at the Maxol service station on Howth Road. He left and at 1.22pm, it was alleged, the taxi arrived at the Beachcomber Pub in Killester, where “no-one gets in or out of the car,” Ms Skedd said.

Mr Bonney’s BMWX5 was allegedly seen parked at St Vincent’s GAA club when the six attackers ran down a laneway to waiting vehicles after the murder.

One of these, a man in a flat cap was allegedly seen getting into the BMW after the murder and being driven away.

Now-deceased dissident republican Kevin ‘flat cap’ Murray has been identified as one of the Regency gunmen.

The SUV is seen driving past the Beachcomber where the taxi pulls out and follows it. The two cars are captured on CCTV that day driving in the convoy of vehicles before turning in different directions on the Malahide Road after the murder.

Ms Skedd’s evidence continues before Ms Justice Tara Burns, Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone tomorrow.

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