Dowdall, is really Starting to Sing now, another Name, on the Criminal Grid, while the Monk Hutch, Sits and Listens, Loyalty among Gangland, Wow? Mago is Worried, tonight?

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Jonathan Dowdall claims Gerry Hutch said ‘him and Mago Gately’ shot David Byrne

Dowdall said Hutch was ‘upset’ when he admitted he shot Mr Byrne and he ‘wasn’t happy about shooting the young lad’

Andrew PhelanSunday World

12th December 2022

Former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall has claimed Gerard “The Monk” Hutch told him he shot David Byrne in the gangland attack at the Regency Hotel.

Taking the stand today, Dowdall told the Special Criminal Court Mr Hutch was “upset” when he admitted he and another man shot Mr Byrne and he “wasn’t happy about shooting the young lad”.

The former politician claimed Mr Hutch said this in a meeting in a park near the Regency days after the shooting and he “wished he hadn’t been told” it.

Dowdall, who is serving a four-year jail sentence for facilitating the murder of David Byrne at the Regency began to testify today at the Special Criminal Court after turning state’s witness against Mr Hutch.

His highly-anticipated testimony comes at the start of the non-jury trial’s ninth week.

Accompanied by three gardai and two prison officers, Dowdall made his way into the packed courtroom this morning through an entrance usually used by juries instead of from the cell area.

Dressed in a navy suit and light blue open-necked shirt, he took the seat normally used by a jury foreman and turned to face the three judges as Mr Hutch watched from the dock on the other side of the courtroom.

Gardai consider Dowdall to be at “severe risk” after coming forward with his statement and he is being assessed for the Witness Protection Programme.

The Regency trial is being held amid heightened security at the Criminal Courts of Justice.

Mr Hutch (59), of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin, denies killing Mr Byrne who was shot dead at the Regency in Whitehall, Dublin on February 5, 2016.

Mr Byrne (33), a Kinahan gang member, was killed when five raiders, three disguised as ERU gardai with assault rifles along with armed man in a flat cap and another gunman dressed as a woman stormed the hotel

The attack at a boxing weigh-in fuelled the Kinahan-Hutch gang feud.

Two other men, Jason Bonney (51) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock and Paul Murphy (61) of Cherry Avenue, Swords, deny providing cars for the attack team.

Dowdall had also been charged Mr Byrne’s murder but before the trial started he instead pleaded guilty to facilitating the killing, by, along with his father Patrick, booking a room in the Regency for use by a criminal organisation. His murder charge was withdrawn by the prosecution.

His evidence had been challenged by the defence but it was ruled admissible by the three-judge court and he was finally called to the witness box today.

This afternoon, he said his father Patrick Dowdall had been living with him at his Navan Road home when Patsy Hutch called to the house on February 3, 2016. Patsy Hutch had asked his father to book a room in the Regency Hotel for a friend of his, which was nothing unusual, he said. They would sometimes let Patsy’s family put holidays on their visa card and there was never any problem, he said.

Dowdall said he and his wife were not home at the time Patsy called and he wasn’t told anything about it.

The next day, February 4, he and his father had been to a meeting in Northern Ireland when Patsy Hutch phoned and asked to speak to his father, he said.

His father had forgotten to book the room and he rang Dowdall’s wife Trish, who rang the hotel. She gave her name and reserved the room while Dowdall and his father drove home, he continued.

They had no ID so his father got his passport and he drove his father to the Regency. His father went in and paid for the room while he stayed in the car in the car park, he said.

Patsy had asked for the room to be booked for a friend and asked Patrick Dowdall to meet the friend while he was there.

His father said no because he had been on the road all day and wanted to go home, Dowdall continued.

The arrangement was to bring the keys to Patsy’s house but when Dowdall called him, he said Patsy said to meet him at Richmond Road instead.

Prosecutor Sean Gillane SC asked who came when they got there.

“Gerard came,” he said. “Gerard Hutch came and my father gave Gerard the cards.”

He said Mr Hutch approached the passenger side of his jeep and “he was on his own.”

“My father gave him the key cards,” he said. Mr Gillane asked if he had expected Gerard Hutch to be there. “No,” he replied.

Gerard Hutch was wearing a dark coloured coat and he did not see what car he was driving, he said.

“He just said thanks, there was nothing said at all,” he told the court.

Mr Gillane asked him how he heard about the Regency attack the next day.

“From the radio, my wife told me it was on the radio,” he said.

Dowdall said Mr Hutch called him to meet in a park in Whitehall days after the Regency shooting.

It was a small park near the church and the meeting was at around 11am or 11.30am, he said. “I arrived and Gerard was there,” he said. “He was on his own.”

He said Mr Hutch asked him had Patsy rung him and he said no.

“He asked me did I see the papers and I told him I did.”

He said Mr Hutch asked if he had seen a picture in the Sunday World of people leaving the Regency on the day of the shooting.

Dowdall said he told him who he thought one of the people looked like and Mr Hutch said the same – “young Patrick.”

He said Mr Hutch spoke about threats being made.

“He asked me would I contact people in the North, that there was a lot of innocent people going to be killed, family, friends.”

He said he told Mr Hutch it was “a waste of time” to contact people in the North.

“He told me it was them in the hotel,” he said. “He told me it was him and them at the hotel. It wasn’t what he said, it was how he was saying it. He said it was them at the hotel and he said he wasn’t happy about shooting the young lad, David Byrne, and David Byrne being killed.”

Mr Gillane asked Mr Dowdall who Mr Hutch said had shot Mr Byrne.

“He said it was him and Mago Gately,” Dowdall replied.

Mr Hutch was very agitated and “wasn’t himself,” he said.

“I think he knew the sh*t was hitting the fan and he was upset I believe, over killing the lad David,” Dowdall said.

“He was paranoid about people watching him in the park, he said.

James 'Mago' Gately
James ‘Mago’ Gately

He said Mr Hutch again spoke about “Patrick in the photograph” and innocent people who would be killed. He wanted to get somebody to “try to sort everything out.”

Dowdall said he told him he would not be getting involved as it was a “waste of time.”

“I had no intention of contacting anybody at that point,” he said. “I wanted to get out of the park. I was worried over the room being booked. Being told stuff like that is like being told where money is buried.”

He said if it goes missing or anything happens it “comes back on you.”

“It’s something I was told I wish I wasn’t told.”

Dowdall said Hutch had been in a black car, wearing a black cap and a brown jacket.

“There was a man walking in the park looking at Gerard and Gerard thought he was a cop,” Dowdall said.

Dowdall said before the Regency attack, he had been asked to contact “Republican people” to get help to “stop the feud when things were “getting out of hand”.

“It wasn’t provisional people, it was dissident people,” he said.

This was after Gary Hutch was killed in Spain and there had been an attempt on Patsy Hutch’s life outside a school.

He “wasn’t gone on the idea” but he did agree at that time to speak to people in the North because there were “so many innocent people’s lives at stake.”

He said he went with his father to Strabane that January to meet people including a man called “Wee” and Shane Rowan whose nickname was “Fish.”

Earlier, Dowdall said he knew Gerard Hutch from the age of 15 or 16, and said the pair also had contact with each other through Mr Hutch’s inner city boxing club.

Outlining the two families’ links, he said his mother had run a city centre street trading stall and Dowdall got to know Mr Hutch’s brother Patsy “very well” over the years.

Patsy Hutch’s children had worked on his mother’s stall, he said.

Dowdall also told the court his sister had been friends with Gerard Hutch’s daughter.

A senior garda first gave evidence that Dowdall’s evidence is completely separate to any involvement by him in the Witness Protection Programme, for which he is currently being assessed.

The Detective Superintendent said this was “completely independent” and confirmed to Mr Hutch’s barrister Brendan Grehan that it was not linked in any way to Mr Dowdall’s “performance in the witness box.”

The court had requested this after Mr Hutch’s defence raised concerns that Dowdall would be giving evidence before being formally accepted onto the WPP.

Before Dowdall arrived, prosecutor Sean Gillane handed in a letter that he had received from Dowdall’s solicitor. He said Dowdall was present and in the precincts of the court. The letter referred to some “difficulties outside my control.”

Mr Grehan said on the face of it, Dowdall appeared to be setting out “a number of pre-conditions before he gives evidence.” However, Ms Justice Tara Burns said this was not a matter for the court.

Mr Hutch took his own seat before the court started, dressed in a navy blazer and open-necked white shirt and carrying a stack of papers under one arm.

He smiled and chatted to his co-accused while waiting for Dowdall to arrive.

Mr Byrne’s parents Sadie and James sat in the court’s public gallery listening to Dowdall as he gave his evidence.

His testimony continues.

His evidence had faced a potential delay when it emerged last week that he had not yet been accepted onto the garda Witness Protection Programme. The defence said this should have been done before he was called to give evidence.

However, when the court heard a decision on this was not expected until mid-January, Mr Hutch told his lawyers he was anxious for the case to proceed and Dowdall could be called today.

Last week, the court ruled Dowdall’s evidence was admissible in the trial.

The defence had objected, arguing his statement was “tainted” by the dropping of his murder charge in a “quid pro quo” between Dowdall and the state.

The prosecution said everything done in relation to Dowdall was “above board” and the court had a right “to hear every man’s evidence.”

The court ruled no “fundamental unfairness” arose from the circumstances in which Dowdall gave his statement, and that it had not been given in return for his murder charge being dropped.

Previously, the court also ruled that secret garda tapes of a conversation Dowdall and Mr Hutch had weeks after the shooting of David Byrne at the Regency were admissible in the trial. This audio evidence had also been challenged by the defence.

The trial is being heard by Ms Justice Tara Burns, Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.

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