Regency trial hears alibi evidence for accused builder Jason Bonney

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Regency Trial Hears Alibi Evidence For Accused Builder Jason Bonney Regency Trial Hears Alibi Evidence For Accused Builder Jason Bonney
Jason Bonney (52), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13 has pleaded not guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of Mr Byrne by providing access to motor vehicles on February 5th, 2016. Photo: Collins Courts
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Alison O'Riordan

A builder accused of participating in the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne at the Regency Hotel was working at a house renovation miles to the north around 15 minutes after the attack, an alibi witness has told the Special Criminal Court.

The defence witness also gave evidence that she saw a BMW X5 - allegedly used by accused Jason Bonney to transport one of the raiders away from the scene on the day of the shooting - being driven away by Mr Bonney's now deceased father earlier that morning.

She denied under cross-examination by Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, that she was to be gifted a plot of land at the side of the accused's home. She also denied she was not telling the truth, as the State contended the accused's father had never driven his son's SUV that day, and told the court: "I'm telling you it is true, definitely true".

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A second defence witness testified on Tuesday that he also saw Mr Bonney's father driving the SUV saying: "I seen the jeep coming very close to me and I looked in the mirror and I said Jesus, that’s Wille Bonney driving that jeep. He came up close to me and I said bloody hell, I wonder what’s going on?”

Monk evidence concluded

Earlier after 13 weeks of evidence and in the trial's 50th day, the State concluded its case against Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch, who is charged with the murder of Mr Byrne, and his two co-accused who deny participating in the murder by providing access to vehicles.

After the conclusion of the prosecution case on Tuesday, lawyers for Mr Hutch's co-accused Jason Bonney called two witnesses to give evidence on his behalf.

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 - Paul Murphy (61), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin and Jason Bonney (52), 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.

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It is the prosecution's case that Mr Bonney was driving a black BMW X5 on the day of the murder and had transported a man in a flat cap, who minutes earlier had raided the Regency Hotel, from St Vincent's GAA grounds.

BMW X5

Julie McGlynn gave evidence in Mr Bonney's defence on Tuesday and told defence counsel John Fitzgerald SC that she grew up on Newbrook Avenue in Donaghmede and that her mother was living in the house in February 2016. She said she knew Mr Bonney "30 odd years".

The witness said she was in her mother's house on the morning of February 5th 2016 as she was having a party there for her then 13-year-old son.

At 11am or a bit afterwards, the witness said there was a knock at the front door and Mr Willie Bonney, the accused's father who has since died, was looking for her mother.

Ms McGlynn said she gave Willie Bonney a cup of tea when there was another knock at the door and accused Jason Bonney was standing there. She said there was "just chit-chat" before both men left her mother's house around 11.30am.

"I walked the two of them out to the front gate. Jason went across to the house [on the opposite side of the road] and Willie got into the jeep and drove off," she said.

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Asked if the SUV in the book of photographs looked familiar to her, Ms McGlynn said it looked like the BMW X5 that Willie drove off in that morning as her sister has the same vehicle.

The witness said she saw Jason Bonney later on that day after she picked her children up from the bus at 2.35pm, which is beside Donaghmede Shopping centre. She arrived back at her mother's house between 2.45pm and 2.50pm and couldn't get into the driveway as there was a truck parked outside the house.

Truck

Ms McGlynn went across the road and asked "the lads" in the garden where Jason Bonney was as she had seen him driving a blue open-backed truck with railings on the side previously. They called Jason Bonney out and he moved the truck.

The witness said the accused apologised as she "gave out to him" and he handed her son who was in the car “a tenner for his birthday.” “I think that was to shut me up because I was giving out so much,” she said.

She said the conversation with accused Jason Bonney "definitely" took place shortly before 3pm as she had collected the children from the bus.

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The trial has heard that Mr Byrne was shot dead in the lobby of the hotel at around 2.32pm on February 5th. CCTV footage has also been shown of six people on Charlemont Lane - including a man in a wig pulling a suitcase and a man with a flat cap carrying a bag- running along a lane towards various cars at St Vincent's GAA club at 2:40pm.

Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, told the witness under cross-examination that there are two people who are very important to the story; William Bonney and his wife Greta Bonney.

Mr Gillane put it to her that her "story" was never formalised, never expressed by her on paper and never brought to anyone's attention until such time as both of these people unfortunately had passed away. She agreed she had told Mr Bonney’s solicitors when they contacted her last year.

Asked how Willie Bonney got to her mother's house, the witness said she couldn't answer that but anytime she saw Willie he was in a car. She said she hadn't seen his Lexus parked outside her mother's house that morning or at the house across the road.

"If Willie Bonney left in a vehicle that wasn't his own, in Jason's jeep, the vehicle he arrived in would still be there, did you notice that?" asked Mr Gillane. Ms McGlynn said she hadn't.

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She said Willie Bonney had told her that he was waiting for Jason "to come back to him with the jeep".

Mr Gillane said another oddity about her statement was that anytime she referred to the jeep she called it Willie's jeep, but it was actually Jason's jeep. "I saw Willie Bonney driving the jeep more than I saw Jason," she said.

It was put to the witness that the very distinct impression she had sought to give in her statement was that Willie Bonney was coming to get the jeep back because his son Jason had kept it. "Jason Bonney hasn't spoken to him in years," she said.

She did not know if there was a falling out between the father and son at the time, but there was afterwards, she said.

She said she first became aware of a suggestion of Jason Bonney's alleged involvement in the attack until his mother Greta called to her mother’s house two to three weeks later, near the end of February.

Major argument

Her mother called to say Greta Bonney was asking for Ms McGlynn to come to the house as there had been "a major argument" between Willie and Jason in her home about the jeep.

The witness was asked by her mother to come to the house and explain what had taken place on February 5. She was told there was trouble, that the jeep had been taken away by the gardai and it was indicated it was involved in the Regency.

The court has already heard that the defence case for Mr Bonney will be that on February 5th, he never drove his jeep, which the prosecution say was used in the attack, south of Newbrook Avenue, Donaghmede, [north of the Regency Hotel] but his father did.

This afternoon, Ms McGlynn said she had been told the Bonneys had a “vicious argument” about the jeep, but Mr Gillane put it to her there had been “no argument” because, according to her account, Jason Bonney knew his father had taken the jeep,

“I can’t say what other people are arguing about,” she replied.

She met him in a shopping centre at Christmas 2016 and he told her that there had been a "big argument", that the family had fallen out and that his father had ruined his life. He told her the family had to move away over a threat and that was why she had not seen him around.

They went back to Mr Bonney's house at Newbrook Avenue later that day and Mr Gillane asked her if Jason had said it was his father, who was in his 70s, who had been using the SUV at the Regency. "No, he didn't go into it in detail. He just said Willie had used the jeep that day," she replied.

During the lengthy discussion in the house, Ms McGlynn said the accused "did say if I was willing to talk to his solicitor about it".

When it was put to her by counsel that she had "dynamite information", that she had not talked to her solicitor until 2022 and that "maybe there was a bit of a loose end as Greta was still alive then", Ms McGlynn said she didn't know.

Asked if she acquired an interest in the accused's house on Newbrook Road, she said a piece of land at the side of the house was up for sale but she never bought it. The accused, she said, told her it was more than likely she wouldn't get planning because of "parking on that corner".

"Was it the intention to gift you the plot," asked the barrister. She said it was not.

She said nothing about the Regency had ever come up despite having been at Drumnigh Wood in Portmarnock about 30 to 40 times since 2021. She agreed that not a single syllable was uttered between them about the "pickle" Jason Bonney was in over the jeep.

CCTV footage

Mr Gillane brought the witness through CCTV footage, where Jason Bonney is seen reversing a black BMW X5 out of Drumnigh Wood in Portmarnock at 11.38am on February 5. Another clip was shown to her where a BMW pulled up at "Eddies Fuels" at Hole in The Wall Road in Donaghmede at 11.41am that morning. The driver gets out of the car and is seen carrying a canister in his hand. Asked if she recognised Jason Bonney, Ms McGlynn said she could not say.

The barrister put it to the witness that she was not telling the truth. Counsel said Willie Bonney was having lunch with his daughter and son-in-law for over four hours on February 5th and never drove his son's jeep on February 5. Ms McGlynn said she knew nothing about this saying: "I'm telling you it is true, definitely true".

In re-examination, Mr Fitzgerald put it to her that when Mr Gillane was asking about planning permission he might have implied it was after April 2021, when Mr Bonney was charged. She said it was before this.

Asked why she had not wanted to get involved in this, Ms McGlynn said she was a foster mother for the past 20 years, that she protects her children and they were her main concern in life.

The next witness called by Mr Fitzgerald was Peter Tyrell. He said his wife already gave evidence in this trial on October 25th about handing over CCTV footage from outside their house in Artane at 2.44pm on February 5th, when an SUV can be seen passing their driveway.

Mr Tyrell said he knew the vehicle belonged to William Bonney from their involvement in a leisure centre in Donaghmede where he was chairman and that the vehicle would always be there. He said he was not on good terms with the Bonneys as he was involved in a civil dispute with them over the ownership of the club which went to the High Court in 2015.

Vehicle encounter

He said he was driving from Coolock to his home in Artane on the afternoon of February 5th when a black SUV came up behind. “I seen the jeep coming very close to me and I looked in the mirror and I said Jesus, that’s Willie Bonney driving that jeep,” Mr Tyrell said. “He came up close to me and I said bloody hell, I wonder what’s going on?”. He drove into his front driveway and the SUV drove on.

Detective Garda Ronan McMurrow gave evidence yesterday and said it was not in dispute that the accused's BMW X5 was registered to 'Bonney Construction', a company Mr Bonney told gardai in interview his father had owned and was now dormant. The accused said he had been driving the jeep since his father stopped working.

Mr Bonney told gardaí in his interviews he had the jeep a couple of years, that he had a falling out with his father over a family matter and that he had not spoken to him in the previous two years.

The trial will continue tomorrow before Ms Justice Burns sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone, when Mr Gillane will continue his cross-examination of the second defence witness called by Mr Bonney.

Integral part of operation

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.

Defence barrister Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr Hutch, told presiding judge Ms Justice Tara Burns that the defence are not calling any evidence on his behalf nor will his client take the stand. Bernard Condon SC, defending Paul Murphy, said his legal team would not be calling evidence either.

Ex-Sinn Fein Councillor Jonathan Dowdall, a former co-accused of Mr Hutch who facilitated Mr Byrne's murder and turned State's evidence, has said that Mr Hutch told him in a park several days after the Regency attack, in or around February 8th, 2016, that he and another man had shot Mr Byrne at the hotel.

The State's case is that the late dissident republican Kevin Murray was the man seen wearing a flat cap when Mr Byrne was killed and that he cooperated with the "tactical team" that raided the Regency Hotel on February 5th. Mr Murray died from motor neurone disease in 2017 before he could be brought to trial.

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Mr Murphy's light coloured Toyota Avensis taxi and a BMW X5 which the prosecution say was driven by Mr Bonney on the day are alleged to have been part of a convoy that parked up at St Vincent's GAA club grounds before the shooting and then transported the assailants from the Regency Hotel shooting after a Ford Transit van was abandoned.

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.

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