HIGH SECURITY |
Jonathan Dowdall moved to Limerick Prison as he begins sentence for role in Regency murder
Dowdall was sentenced to a total of four years in prison for helping a crime gang to murder David Byrne in a shooting at Dublin’s Regency Hotel
2nd November 2022
Jonathan Dowdall is in Limerick Prison today after he was transferred from Portlaoise Prison to begin his four-year sentence for facilitating the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel.
The former Sinn Fein councillor turned State witness and his father Patrick were granted a two-week deferment of the beginning of their sentences on “humanitarian grounds” at the Special Criminal Court last month..
The Sunday World understands Dowdall presented himself to Portlaoise Prison on Monday but has since been moved to Limerick.
As one of the most high-profile prisoners now within the prison system he poses a significant security concern for prison authorities as well as gardai.
Dowdall was sentenced to a total of four years in prison for helping a crime gang to murder David Byrne in a shooting at Dublin’s Regency Hotel.
However, as 25pc remission is applied to all prison sentences handed down in the state, Dowdall will serve just three years behind bars.
His father Patrick Dowdall (65) was jailed for two years for his role in facilitating the murder of Kinahan cartel associate Byrne.
It has been reported that both men will be held in a secure unit and will not be able to mix with any of the general prison population during their time behind bars.
Dowdall’s trial already heard that he was being considered for the witness protection programme and that following his sentence he would likely need to relocate to another country for his own safety.
Both men had pleaded guilty to facilitating the gangland shooting by making a hotel room available to a criminal organisation.
The three-judge court took account of the “extraordinary additional mitigation” of Jonathan Dowdall’s help to the prosecution in the ongoing trial of Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch and others over the Regency shooting.
However, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the court refused to suspend the sentence “given the gravity of the crime and the consequences” and that Dowdall had assisted a “serious criminal organisation”.
The start of the sentences was deferred for two weeks to allow the accused contact “professional persons”.
Byrne (34) was a father of two and a Kinahan gang member.
He was shot dead when five armed raiders, including three masked men disguised as Garda Emergency Response Unit (ERU) members, stormed the hotel during a boxing weigh-in on February 5, 2016.
Patrick Dowdall booked a room in the hotel for use by the gang and both men drove to hand over the keys to criminals the day before the fatal attack.
Jonathan Dowdall had originally been charged with murder but that was withdrawn by the prosecution after he pleaded guilty to the lesser offence.
The Dowdalls are the first people to be convicted over the Regency shooting.
Jonathan Dowdall then made himself available as a prosecution witness in the trial of Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch, who is charged with Mr Byrne’s murder.
Dealing with Jonathan Dowdall first, Judge Hunt said the accused had assisted a “serious criminal organisation”, having received and followed instructions to obtain a hotel room, with the assistance of his father.
Jonathan Dowdall continued to associate with the organisation member after the key handover and travelled with him to Northern Ireland.
There was electronic surveillance on the vehicle they were in during that journey, although the court was given no detail of that.
The year previous to this offence, Jonathan Dowdall had committed a serious crime of violence unconnected to the Hutch family, the judge said.
The “most charitable view possible” in the case was a headline sentence of eight years, he said.
While the accused was not of previous good character, there was evidence of “positive activity” prior to his involvement in serious crime.
The judge said the immediate and lasting effect of Jonathan Dowdall’s assistance to the authorities was to place him and his family in “significant peril”.
Their lives would be “upended and become more onerous and dangerous”, he said.
Patrick Dowdall had made no attempt to conceal or disguise his actions and was very co-operative with the investigation.
The court was taking the unusual step of finding that his was a “low-level offence albeit at the higher end”.
The serving of a sentence and life outside custody would be “onerous” and the court gave a further reduction to a final sentence of two years.
Recently, the man who was tortured by Jonathan Dowdall spoke of his disgust that the former Sinn Féin councillor will spend just three years in prison.
The victim, who was water-boarded and threatened by Dowdall and his father that ‘he would be chopped up and fed to the dogs’, criticised the sentence saying he believed not enough weight has been given to the 44-year-old’s previous criminality.
“If that was a first offence, it would be lenient,” Dowdall’s torture victim told the Sunday World.
“I don’t believe enough consideration was given to the severity of his previous conviction.
“Honestly, I’m disgusted by it.
“ Again, it’s just my opinion but it appears to me he’s getting rewarded for doing wrong.”