Melton boxer Paul Butlin flees AK47 shootings at Dublin hotel

Paul Butlin EMN-161002-110849002
Paul Butlin EMN-161002-110849002
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He turned up to do his job, to fight in his 40th career bout. Hours later Melton boxer Paul Butlin was scrambling for a hotel fire exit to escape gunmen armed with AK47s.

This was the surreal, unimaginable scenario which unfolded in Dublin last Friday as the professional heavyweight found himself caught up in what police believe was a gangland killing.

Paul Butlin fights Olympic champion Anthony Joshua in 2013 EMN-161002-110835002

Paul Butlin fights Olympic champion Anthony Joshua in 2013 EMN-161002-110835002

The attack by three gunmen, some disguised as police, during a weigh-in at the Regency Hotel last Friday afternoon left one man, David Byrne (34), dead and two others injured.

“I only went there to fight. It was mad,” Butlin said.

“Luckily they just wanted the people they had come for. They could’ve had a bomb or anything; there were kids and babies in there.

“Afterwards people were saying ‘it was ISIS’, but I knew it wasn’t – otherwise we would all be dead.”

Melton professional heavyweight Paul Butlin signs for well respected boxing manager Carl Greaves PHOTO: Tim Williams EMN-161002-110821002

Melton professional heavyweight Paul Butlin signs for well respected boxing manager Carl Greaves PHOTO: Tim Williams EMN-161002-110821002

Butlin had been due to fight up-and-coming Irish heavyweight Sean Turner on a top-of-the-bill contest on Friday night.

The show was the first of two high profile boxing events to be run on consecutive nights in the Irish capital.

The 39-year-old, who has travelled extensively across Europe to compete during a 13-year career, was booked to stay at the Regency after the fight along with Newark-based manager Carl Greaves.

He said: “We caught an early flight to Dublin and got there Friday morning, had some breakfast and I went to bed to get a few hours’ sleep.

Butlin is the reigning Midlands heavyweight champion EMN-161002-110900002

Butlin is the reigning Midlands heavyweight champion EMN-161002-110900002

“I went down and had my check weight done and then stayed to watch the weigh-ins.

“Sean came up to me, wished me good luck and we had a picture taken together.”

At about 2.30pm, shots were heard from outside as the attackers stormed into the hotel.

“The next thing we heard a couple of bangs. The whole crowd shifted and chairs went everywhere,” Butlin added.

“I thought it was a fight to start with and thought the bangs were a couple of glasses being smashed.

“Carl had already done a runner through the fire exit and there were people falling over as they rushed to get out.

“I didn’t see the gunmen, I just heard them. We didn’t stick around to have a look.

“I saw one guy being held up, I think he’d been shot in the leg.”

Butlin stopped to try and help a man back to his feet who had fallen during the desperate escape.

“Carl thought I was going back inside and said ‘someone’s been shot, keep running’.

“There were riot police and all sorts coming to the hotel. We were told to head to a pub up the road where we’d be safe.

“We had a coffee and tried to get our heads around what had happened.”

With the show cancelled, the pair returned to the hotel to collect their things before heading for home.

Butlin said: “I turned around and there was one body surrounded by a tent, two got taken to hospital.

“We just got out of there straightaway.”

Back at the airport, he paused only to call his wife Emma, at home with their three young children, to explain what had happened.

Butlin, who also runs a boxing and fitness gym in Melton, returned to his full-time job as normal on Monday, but was forced home early as delayed shock from the traumatic day took hold.

“I was alright afterwards, but it’s just hit me a bit today,” he explained.

You don’t have time to get shock at the time, everything happens so quickly.

“We got back to Melton about 10.30pm on Friday and I’ve just been chilling and spending time with my family.

“I haven’t had time to think about it too much.”

Despite beginning to come to terms with Friday’s chilling experience, Butlin will continue to box abroad.

The reigning Midlands heavyweight champion, who has been in the ring with a host of champions as well as Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua, already has a fight in Poland lined up for next month.

But for his next overseas assignment, at least, his heightened state of alert may not just be reserved for the ring.

“Having been a doorman, I’m quite vigilant and see things happening all the time,” he said.

“But I was tired and must have just switched off.

“It just happened so fast. I’ll never go to Ireland again.”