Regency trial: Accused told gardaí his taxi could have been cloned

Regency Trial: Accused Told Gardaí His Taxi Could Have Been Cloned
In a garda interview, Paul Murphy said he had purchased the vehicle from Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch's older brother. Photo: Collins
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Alison O’Riordan

A taxi driver accused of participating in the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne at the Regency Hotel by providing access to a vehicle told gardaí that his Toyota Avensis taxi could have been "cloned", the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Accused Paul Murphy (61) also told detectives in his first interview that he had purchased the Avensis from the older brother of Gerard 'The Monk' Hutch, Eddie 'Neddie' Hutch, who he had known since he was a "young fella" and had paid him €175 per week for a year.


The three-judge court was also told on Thursday that Mr Murphy had driven his taxi into Buckingham Village in Dublin's north inner city on the morning of Mr Byrne's murder and that a swipe card used to access the location was found when gardaí searched his vehicle.

The court was told the card was one of four missing from a box and that its sequence number was one away from a card recovered at Patsy Hutch Snr's home on Champions Avenue.

Patsy Hutch Senior is the brother of murder accused, Gerard Hutch.

Gerard Hutch (59), last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, denies the murder of Mr Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5th, 2016.


Mr Hutch's two co-accused - Mr Murphy (61), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin, and Jason Bonney (50), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13 - have pleaded not guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of Mr Byrne by providing access to motor vehicles on February 5th, 2016.

It is the prosecution's case that a silver Ford transit van containing six people left the Regency Hotel after the shooting, including three persons dressed in tactical garda clothing. The raiders then made good their escape by using a number of parked vehicles at St Vincent's GAA club.

Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, said in his opening address that "an integral part of the operation" which led to Mr Byrne's death was the means by which the tactical team escaped, which is central to the case of Mr Bonney and Mr Murphy.


On Thursday, now retired Detective Garda Alan Crummey told Mr Gillane that he took a statement from Mr Murphy at his Swords address on February 22nd, 2016, where Mr Murphy said he had been a taxi driver for the last 20 years and owned a green coloured Toyota Avensis since 2012.

He rented a taxi plate off another man and said he normally worked his days on the northside of the city.

Referring in his statement to Friday, February 5th, 2016, Mr Murphy said he had taken "small jobs" or fares to places like Sheriff Street. He said the receipts would show the dates, times and costs and how long the journeys lasted.

Shortly after taking a fare at around 1.10pm, Mr Murphy said he pulled into the Maxol Garage on the Howth Road and got a coffee and a ham sandwich. He said he then drove to The Beachcomber Pub on the Howth Road and reversed into a parking space to eat his sandwich for up to 15 minutes.


Mr Murphy said he then drove up Collins Avenue, through Fairview and into the city centre. He said he heard about the shooting at the Regency Hotel on the news at 3pm and thought he was on the North Circular Road at the time.

He then drove to Drumcondra where "the traffic was mental", adding he could see "police all over the place" at the Regency Hotel. He said he did not work the rest of the day and went home.

No knowledge

The accused told gardaí in his statement that he did not know about anything that "went on" in the Regency Hotel that day.

He said he knew Eddie Hutch, who had previously worked with him at Exchequer Cabs, but that he would not have been a friend of his. "Drivers were nervous about the association with 'Neddie' Hutch," he added.


He said he was the only one that drove the Avensis on the day of the shooting.

Mr Crummey said he met Mr Murphy again on March 3rd, 2016 at the Croke Park Hotel to take an additional statement from him.

In the statement, Mr Murphy said: "I want to say further to my last meeting my Avensis taxi could have been cloned. The reason I say this is that I recently got two fines for speeding and littering and I never litter. I'm not inclined to speed cause of my job".

The accused said the littering fine was for throwing a cigarette butt out the window but he did not think it was him. Mr Murphy told gardaí that he did not pay the fines and would go to court.

He also said he had no information about the shooting.

The witness said he met with Mr Murphy again at the Croke Park Hotel on March 9th, 2016 and took another statement from him.

Mr Murphy was shown a copy of the receipt roll from his taxi from February 5th and there were 11 fares in total. The fares started that day at 10.50am and finished at 4.22pm.

The accused was asked by gardaí about two phones found in his car but said he had only used one of the phones on one occasion and the other for no more than a day.


On May 30th, 2016, Mr Crummey met Mr Murphy by appointment at the Travelodge Hotel in Swords and arrested him for the murder of Mr Byrne with a firearm at the Regency Hotel.

In his first interview with gardaí at Ballymun Garda station on May 30th, 2016, Mr Murphy said he was originally from Sean McDermott Street and had lived there until he was 12 years old before moving to Avondale House.

He said he had applied for a taxi licence over 20 years ago and had bought the Avensis off Eddie Hutch. "Is that 'Neddie' who recently passed?" gardaí asked, to which the accused replied: "Yes, him and his brothers used to get cars and then sell them on."

Mr Murphy said he was working for Exchequer Taxis and worked out of their base in Parnell Street. He would work off the radio and pick fares up off the street in the Dublin 1,3,7 and 9 areas.

Mr Murphy said he knew Eddie 'Neddie' Hutch from when he was a "young fella", before he had bought the taxi from him, which he paid for in cash.

The colour of the four-door saloon Avensis was green on the log-book but was actually gold in colour, he added.

Eddie Hutch was shot dead at his north-inner city home on February 8th, 2016, in what was believed to be a revenge attack for the Regency Hotel shooting three days earlier.

In his second interview, Mr Murphy said he had not planned to go to The Beachcomber Pub on the afternoon of February 5th, but saw a spot and decided to pull in at 1.45pm.

He said he did not remember if he had any fares after thhis and before going home.

In another interview, it was put to Mr Murphy that a taxi fare printout was located in the driver's door of his car on February 19th when the vehicle was seized, showing 11 fares had been made on February 5th.

In a further interview on May 31st, Meteor phone records from February 5th were presented to Mr Murphy, including a 25-second call made to Eddie Hutch at 12.52pm that day and again at 12.56pm.

"I was looking for a lend of money, I was stuck for a few bob. That's what they do, lend you money. Any of the Hutches will lend you a few bob," he said.

Asked if there was a cost, Mr Murphy said: "It depends on how much you were looking for. I wanted €500, if you pay that back within the month it wouldn't cost but if you paid it back week by week they'd charge you a few bob."

Swipe card

When asked if he would be in contact with "the other Hutches", Mr Murphy said "Patsy occasionally".

Asked if he would be in contact with them often, he said: "Once or twice a day, sometimes not for weeks". He said 'Neddie' and 'Patsy' would lend him money.

When an ACT swipe card was produced to him, Mr Murphy said he had cleaned out the car a while ago and found the card and a set of keys down the side of the front passenger seat, between the seat and the door.

He said it was about three-and-a-half to four months ago, around the end of January.

He added that he put them in an envelope with the intention of dropping them to the lost property office in Santry but never got around to it. He said he did not lend out his taxi to anyone, adding that it had to have been a passenger that lost them.

When CCTV footage was shown to him from February 5th of the Maxol service station on the end of the Howth Road, Mr Murphy said it was "me getting out" and that he was satisfied it was his taxi.

He identified himself walking to the shop, checking his watch going across the forecourt and looking under the car. "I see me paying for my sandwich and the fuel in the Maxol Garage," he said.

The accused also identified his car in a still photo doing a U-turn at The Beachcomber Pub on the Howth Road and reversing in. "That's me outside the Beachcomber," he added.

He said he was happy that the stills and clips shown to him were of him and his taxi.

Mr Murphy was also shown an access card in his interviews and asked to describe it. He said it was an access card for getting into car parks and apartments "like a hotel room key". He said he did not think he had ever used the card.

Asked if it was his, Mr Murphy said no but then said he thought he used it once in an apartment block on Bella Street. "I used it to open the gates into that apartment block at Buckingham Street," he added.

Asked if he had been at the Buckingham Village apartments before, the accused said he had been there just to pick up a fare.

He said he went into Buckingham Village to get money from Eddie Hutch on February 5th as he had to get the car fixed as it was leaking oil.

He said Eddie was not there when he went in, but Patsy Hutch was, adding he did not know where Eddie was. He said none of the other Hutches were there.

He said he had arranged to meet Eddie in Buckingham Village on February 5th but he did not show up. He said he had used the swipe card to open the gates and parked up and waited around for Eddie for a while but then drove out the gate and went to work.

Gardaí put it to Mr Murphy that a box containing ACT access cards were found in a search of Buckingham Village with four missing and the accused accepted that one of the cards found in his car came from the batch.

Gardaí told the accused that another card was located in Patsy Hutch's at Champions Avenue.

Asked how many times he drove into Buckingham Village on February 5th, Mr Murphy said: "Just once in and out."

When Mr Murphy was shown CCTV footage from Buckingham Street on February 5th, the accused said: "It shows me coming out of Buckingham Village onto Bella Street."

Mr Crummey said he went to Mr Bonney's house in Portmarnock on February 21st, 2016 but the accused declined to make a statement.

Mr Bonney said he did not recall the exact day of February 5th, but remembered hearing about the Regency shooting on the radio. "I knew the boxing was on before. I've been involved in boxing all my life," he said.

'Another named family'

Asked if he spoke to any of the Hutches or Kinahans on February 5th, Mr Bonney said he was friends with the Hutches and another named family.

"I never met Daniel Kinahan, I don't think I spoke to either of them that day. To the best of my recollection, I'm happy to say I don't think I spoke to either side that day," he said.

Detective Sergeant Brian Hanley testified that he had arrested Mr Murphy on suspicion of having being involved in the murder of Mr Byrne to which he made no reply.

He said he believed Mr Murphy had been involved in transporting individuals prior to and subsequent to the murder of Mr Byrne and that he was in possession of a gold/green Avensis taxi.

He said he showed Mr Murphy footage of what he believed to be a taxi arriving at Buckingham Village at 10.54am, 12.02am, 12.10pm and 12.39pm on February 5th. There was also footage of a BMW arriving at Buckingham Village at 12.16pm that day, he said.

The three-judge court previously viewed CCTV footage showing a man reversing a black BMW X5 jeep out of Drumnigh Wood in Portmarnock at 11.38am on February 5th.

Mr Gillane told the non-jury court that the prosecution case is that the man getting into the jeep is Mr Hutch's co-accused Jason Bonney. However, Mr Bonney's defence barrister John Fitzgerald SC said this evidence would be challenged and that it was a legal issue.

The detective said the taxi moved off from outside The Beachcomer Pub at 1.41pm and joined in convoy with a BMW driven by Mr Bonney.

The two vehicles then joined a Skoda taxi registered to the Hutch family at St Vincent's GAA grounds, parked up and remained there until the participants in the murder ran up a laneway.

"We believed they made their escape in vehicles including the vehicle Paul Murphy was in," he said.

He said the fare receipts seized from the taxi during the search did not corroborate with the account Mr Murphy gave regarding his movements.

"The swipe card for Buckingham Village was recovered in Mr Murphy's vehicle and another card was recovered in the home of Patrick Hutch Senior, one sequence number away from the card recovered from Patsy Hutch Senior's house," he said.

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Mr Byrne, from Crumlin, was shot dead at the hotel in Whitehall, Dublin 9 after five men, three disguised as armed gardaí in tactical clothing and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, stormed the building during the attack, 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.

The trial continues on Monday before Ms Justice Tara Burns, presiding, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.

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