He’s faced down the British army, kidnapping gangs, and Sith Lords, but one thing still frightens Liam Neeson — public speaking.
A man attending a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel in Dublin was “relieved” when people he thought were gardaí arrived after a shooting — before one of them took aim with a gun and shot a person, the Special Criminal Court heard.
Patrick Hutch, aged 25, of Champions Avenue, Dublin 1, is pleading not guilty to the murder of David Byrne, aged 34, at the Regency Hotel in Dublin on February 5, 2016.
Mel Christie, former president of the Boxing Union of Ireland, told Sean Gillane, prosecuting, a boxing event had been organised for Saturday, February 6, at the National Boxing Stadium.
Mr Christie and former Eurosport boxing commentator Rinze Van Der Meer went to the weigh-in at the Regency Hotel at 1.45pm, and Mr Christie, who was to supervise the weigh-in, had brought a weighing-scales.
Gary Sweeney was the last fighter to be weighed in.
Mr Sweeney had just stepped down from the scales when there was a “cracking noise”. “I was aware the cracking noise were gunshots,” Mr Christie said
He then became aware of two people running to his left. “Essentially one was a stocky middle-aged man with a cap and he was trying to keep up, slightly behind a younger person, who was obviously male but dressed as a female.” Both men were carrying pistols.
The two men went past the stage and down a corridor.
After that, there were at least eight “far louder gunshots” which came from what he subsequently realised was the reception area.
Mr Christie agreed with Michael O’Higgins, defending, that he was in a position to give a “good verbal description” of the person.
Witness Paul Spencer said he was a member of a boxing gym at the time. He saw the guys from his gym and other boxers, as well as guys associated with the MGM gym, including Daniel Kinahan.
He noticed two people coming in, a man and a woman, who “seemed out of place”. The woman had a blonde wig and was linking with the other man, who was wearing a cap. Mr Spencer said as they were passing, he realised the blonde was a man dressed up as a woman.
He said that the men pointed handguns, higher than head-height, over the crowd, and he heard three or four gunshots. He was “terrified” and took cover.
Mr Spencer saw the man dressed as a woman running out an emergency door.
He heard three more gunshots outside the room. Mr Spencer said that a man walked in and said, “It’s okay, the ERU are here”.
The court heard that two men wearing dark helmets and blue police jackets, with scarves over their noses, were carrying “huge guns”.
The court heard the “two fellas walked calmly into the centre of the room” and people started walking toward them. They took three or four steps, the witness said, when there were three or four more gunshots which came from one of the men who he had thought was a garda.
He said that he saw one of them “aim the gun and shoot a person”. Mr Spencer said his “ears were ringing” and “it was bedlam”.
He saw the man dressed as a woman and the man in the cap running back in the door with their “guns held high”.
He said that he heard the man dressed as a woman shouting, in a Dublin accent, “I can’t see him, I can’t see him, he’s not fucking here”.
He went to reception, the court heard, looked down and saw a body.
The trial resumes on Monday.