high security |
Jonathan Dowdall and father under 23-hour-a-day lockdown with adjoining cells in protection unit
The two men are serving sentences for their roles in facilitating the murder of Kinahan cartel associate David Byrne
Ken Foy Independent.ie
5th November 2022
Jonathan Dowdall and his father Patrick are under a 23-hour-lockdown regime in a special protection wing of Limerick Prison, where they are housed in cells beside each other.
Both men, especially Jonathan, are under the “severest threat level possible” because of his decision to give evidence against Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch in his ongoing murder trial.
For security reasons, the Irish Independent has been asked not to reveal the jail landing where the “gravely under threat” father and son are based.
As part of the protective regime surrounding the north Dublin duo, they are not allowed to mix with other prisoners.
All their meals are delivered to their individual prison cells and they can only take their hour of exercise time when other prisoners are on their meal breaks. “The place is basically locked down when these lads are allowed out of their cells.
“For the hour that the Dowdalls are out of their cells, they are closely monitored by prison staff and no other prisoners can go near them,” a source told the Irish Independent.
Limerick Prison was chosen as the facility to house former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan (44) and his father Patrick Dowdall (65) because the jail does not have any known criminals involved in the deadly Hutch/Kinahan feud that has claimed 18 lives.
The jail unit the Dowdalls are based in is a special six cell unit, which houses no other inmates apart from them. They are being held in what are known as “close observation cells” while the other four cells on the unit are described as regular but currently unoccupied.
Due to the protection regime they are on, the Dowdalls are never likely to get a prison job or mix with other inmates, who are also unable to observe the unit where they are based.
Jonathan Dowdall, and to a lesser extent his dad, are the most under threat prisoners in the entire prison system
It is understood they have had no visitors yet since being transferred to Limerick earlier this week. They were originally committed there from high-security Portlaoise Prison on Bank Holiday Monday. If anyone decides to visit, special security arrangements involving armed gardaí on the outside and other arrangements within the jail will need to be made.
However, sources stress the Irish Prison Service has “past experience of this kind of situation” and the father-and-son can avail of video calls instead of personal visits which could ease the security headache.
“Jonathan Dowdall, and to a lesser extent his dad, are the most under threat prisoners in the entire prison system but there is a degree of confidence, as much as there can be, that the threats against them are being managed and contained,” a source said.
“A risk assessment and security plan is in place and this will be constantly reviewed as things can change quickly,” the source added.
A spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service (IPS) said they do not comment on individual prisoners.
State witness Jonathan is serving a four-year sentence for facilitating the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel, which inflamed the deadly criminal feud.
His father Patrick was jailed for two years for his role in facilitating the murder of Kinahan cartel associate Byrne.
Dowdall’s sentencing hearing heard 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 Special Criminal 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 two others over the Regency shooting.
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, Mr Justice Tony 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.