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Dublin Regency Hotel attack: 'I begged for my life from behind reception desk as killer pointed gun at me'

By Lesley Houston

Published 06/02/2016

Gunmen disguised as Gardai walk calmly into a Dublin hotel, then kill a man at boxing event in a hail of bullets [File photo]
Gunmen disguised as Gardai walk calmly into a Dublin hotel, then kill a man at boxing event in a hail of bullets [File photo]
Forensic officers outside the Regency Hotel where hooded gunmen in Garda-style uniform carried out a murderous raid
Hooded gunmen in Garda-style uniform carried out a murderous raid
One of the victims is carried to an ambulance

A Northern Ireland eyewitness to a brutal gangland murder at a Dublin hotel during a boxing tournament weigh-in has spoken of his horror.

BBC NI reporter Kevin McAnena told of how he begged for his life after one of the killers pointed an automatic rifle at him.

And Belfast boxer Phil Sutcliffe jnr has been left traumatised as a result of what happened, according to his manager.

Detectives in Dublin are hunting a four-person gang who carried out the brazen daylight gun attack in which David Byrne was killed and two other men were injured.

The attackers - armed with Ak-47s and disguised as Garda - opened fired in the Regency Hotel in the Drumcondra area of north Dublin at around 2.30pm yesterday.

Around 100 people, including children, were present, attending a weigh-in ahead of the Clash Of The Clans boxing extravaganza.

Two of the armed gang began firing shots as they reached the front door of the hotel.

A third man disguised as a Garda, and a fourth dressed as a woman, were also involved.

It is believed the shooting was linked to the murder of criminal Gary Hutch in Spain, a nephew of the notorious Dublin gangland figure Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch.

Sean McGovern (30), from Crumlin in Dublin, was understood to be in a serious condition in Beaumont Hospital last night after being shot in the stomach.

A third man, Aaron Bolger (25), from Tallaght, was being treated for his wounds after being blasted in the thigh.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny called the shooting "an extreme case".

"Clearly the interpretation here is that this is the work of rival criminal gangs in the Dublin area," said Mr Kenny.

Mr McAnena, a sports reporter for BBC Radio Foyle, told RTE of his terror after one of the attackers pointed his gun at him after he witnessed Mr Byrne's murder.

"At that point I jumped over the receptionist's desk and got on the ground and I started shouting: 'Don't shoot, don't shoot'. I think I actually said: 'I'm innocent'," he said.

"At that point the gunman leaned over the reception desk, looked down at me - pointing the gun at me - and said something to me I can't recall now, and left.

"It's so surreal - it just happened so quickly, right in front of me.

"It's hard to gather your thoughts right now."

Mr Sutcliffe jnr also witnessed the shooting, but his manager Pat Magee last night told the Belfast Telegraph that the boxer was "too upset to talk to the Press".

Mr Magee should have also been in the room when the shooting happened, but a traffic accident en route delayed him by two hours, meaning he missed the carnage.

"He's absolutely traumatised, like everyone who saw it," he said.

"It was a traumatic experience for everybody."

Two other local boxers, Belfast man Tyrone McKenna and Bangor fighter Casey Blair, are thought to have missed the shooting as they were resting ahead of their bouts, which were due to take place tonight.

Mr Magee had travelled down to the Dublin event with fellow boxing official John Rooney.

"You don't expect things like this to happen at sporting events and this is a big sporting weekend, with the rugby on Sunday," he said.

"I've been involved with boxing worldwide and I've never seen anything like it."

Brutal murder in broad daylight: how it unfolded

2.05pm: Weigh-in for professional boxing event Clash of The Clans – promoted by boxing agency MGM – gets under way in a function room in the Regency Airport Hotel in Drumcondra, north Dublin.

2.25pm: Weigh-in is still under way when a commotion begins in the function room.

2.27pm: Man seen leaving front of hotel saying: “It’s all kicking off in there.” One gunshot rings out.

2.28pm: Two men dressed in fake Garda ERU uniforms and carrying AK47 assault rifles enter the front entrance of the hotel. One man fires a shot as he enters hotel reception.

2.29pm: Dozens of men, women and children attempt to flee hotel as gunshots are fired.

2.30pm: One of the two men climbs onto the reception desk counter as a bystander cowers down behind the desk. The man fires six or seven shots towards the lobby.

2.32 – 2.33pm: Two men exit the hotel through the front entrance, passing an innocent bystander. They then move towards the rear of the hotel.

They are met by accomplices coming from the hotel. A third man is seen dressed in a fake Garda ERU uniform and similarly armed with an assault rifle. A man disguised as a woman in a long blonde wig and grey dress meets these two men.

The man disguised as the woman says: “I can’t find him. I don’t know where he f****** is.”

One of the other men says: “Get the f*** out of here.” Both speak with Dublin accents. The four climb into a silver Transit 03 D registration van and drive off towards an estate to the rear of the hotel and do not return.

2.35pm: Children are huddled alongside adults close to the hotel’s exterior in fear that the gunmen will come back.

2.40pm: Gardaí arrive at the scene and one man is pronounced dead.

Two men are rushed to hospital for treatment for gunshot injuries. Gardaí seal off the scene and an investigation gets under way.

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