Jonathan Dowdall has claimed in court that murder accused Gerard Hutch is ‘terrorising his family’
• 8h ago
FORMER Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall has claimed Regency murder accused Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch is “terrorising his family.”
The ex-politician who is testifying against Mr Hutch also said names of his relatives and others were being dragged into the trial and there was a “barrage of threats.”
Dowdall said coming forward to give evidence at the Special Criminal Court had raised intimidation levels against his family to a “whole different level” and death threats had been made to his mother and children.
He said the reason he told lies to gardaí when he himself was a murder suspect was because of the threat to his family and since then “everything he feared would happen has happened, and worse.”
Dowdall (44) was giving evidence for a fifth day in the trial of Mr Hutch for the gangland murder of David Byrne at the Regency.
He began testifying on Monday, when he alleged that Mr Hutch confessed that he and another man shot Mr Byrne.
The father of three was killed when five raiders, three disguised as ERU gardaí with assault rifles along with an armed man in a flat cap and another gunman dressed as a woman stormed the hotel.
The attack at a boxing weigh-in on February 5, 2016 fuelled the Kinahan-Hutch gang feud.
Mr Hutch (59), of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to the murder.
Dowdall had also been charged with Mr Byrne’s murder but before the trial started he instead pleaded guilty to facilitating the killing, by helping his father Patrick Dowdall to book a room in the Regency for use by the attackers.
His murder charge was withdrawn by the prosecution and he turned state’s witness.
Dowdall has made two main allegations against his former co-accused.
The first is that when he drove his father to hand over the Regency room keys the day before the attack, it was to Mr Hutch. The court has heard the room was later used by the raider in the flat cap, now-deceased Kevin Murray.
The second allegation Dowdall made was that three days after the shooting, Mr Hutch met him in a park and confessed that he and another man had shot David Byrne.
The court has already heard tapes of a bugged conversation between Dowdall and Mr Hutch as the pair drove north weeks after the Regency murder.
This afternoon, Mr Grehan asked Dowdall if he could “clear up” an issue that was brought up on the tapes in relation to his uncle Jimmy’s house being shot up.
“I didn’t do it,” Dowdall said, telling the court: “I’m not going into anything else about that.”
Mr Grehan said he was bringing it up because Dowdall had repeatedly brought it up on the taped recording with Mr Hutch.
“You are bringing it up to paint me in a bad picture,” Dowdall said.
“It might also paint you as a liar,” Mr Grehan said.
“You want me to drag up other family stuff nothing to do with this case,” Dowdall said.
He said what he had said on the tape was “bravado”.
Mr Grehan said Dowdall was telling Mr Hutch on the tape that he had got somebody to shoot into his uncle’s house but would not admit this to his uncle.
“It was bravado talk, I didn’t do anything to do with my uncle Jimmy,” Dowdall said.
Mr Grehan said “someone from Sinn Fein interviewed you about this when you were going for the councillor position.”
Dowdall said Sinn Fein were aware of the background and “know it wasn’t me.”
He said he had already spoken to the gardai about it.
“He’s already sent people to my uncle’s home about this to get them to come into court,” Dowdall said.
“I’m not going into it for your client’s benefit and dragging people into it,” he told Mr Grehan.
Dowdall said he had no enemies before this and now “everybody’s name mentioned in court is another set of enemies.”
Mr Grehan then read from a transcript of the tape of Dowdall’s conversation with Mr Hutch.
Dowdall was heard speaking about being asked about the attack on his uncle’s house.
“Stephen McCormick was in with the contos, he was the DOE over Dublin, he’s after ringing me non stop, he arrived at my gaff three times,” Dowdall said on the tapes. “Your man Stephen McCormick, I don’t know him. He’s sitting there watching it and Brian Keane is doing all the talking.”
“I’m not going through all that,” Dowdall told Mr Grehan.
The barrister continued to read from the transcript, including a reference to Dowdall having “riddled his uncle’s house.”
“My uncle’s house was never even riddled,” Dowdall told the court.
Mr Grehan said Dowdall had a falling out with his uncle and his uncle told investigating gardai in a statement about it that Dowdall was the only person he had any trouble with.
Prosecutor Sean Gillane SC interjected to say that the allegation was not accurate as when the matter was investigated, it was not Jonathan Dowdall. Another person was nominated, he said.
“This is wrong, it’s more names and enemies to keep him happy over there,” Dowdall said, raising his voice and pointing towards the dock. “He’s terrorising my family, if this keeps growing bigger and bigger I can’t keep doing this.”
He said when he was speaking to his wife on the phone, he was being told “there’s a barrage of more threats and more threats.”
Mr Gillane said Dowdall’s uncle had said in a statement about the shooting incident he was happy it was not Dowdall.
Earlier recordings were played of Dowdall’s garda interviews after he was arrested on suspicion of murder in May 2016.
Mr Hutch’s barrister Brendan Grehan SC asked Dowdall to comment on his responses to the gardaí and repeatedly put it to him that he was lying.
Dowdall was heard in the interview telling the gardaí he was an honest man and had never been involved in crime.
“I am an honest person,” Dowdall told the court. “I didn’t tell lies to the garda, I couldn’t speak in the interview, I explained that, and I’m speaking now. Children as young as 10, their lives are under serious threat, they haven’t been in school since September, the schools won’t take them back.”
He said death threats had been issued on their Twitter pages.
“Even when I was charged with murder, no children were ever targeted”, he said.
His daughter had to leave her job, he said.
“Everything I feared would happen has happened, and worse,” Dowdall said, adding that “nobody ever went against them.”
Mr Grehan put it to him he could have said nothing to the gardaí instead of engaging with them
He said Dowdall did not have to “praise” Mr Hutch in garda interview and tell them he was a “good man”.
“You didn’t have to say any of that,” Mr Grehan said.
Dowdall said he had learned a lot of different other things after that.
“No decent man threatens 10 year old kids, or 14 year old kids or gets people to ring my mother,” he said.
Mr Grehan continued to question Dowdall about what he told gardaí in the 2016 interview. Dowdall said nobody had interfered with his family at that stage but since “I came out to give evidence, the levels of intimidation against my family” had risen.
He repeated that his mother had been phoned.
“Telling a 62-year-old woman she is dead and that my children are dead, this is a whole different level and this is why nobody comes in and gives evidence,” he told the court.
The court has heard gardaí found a video of Dowdall torturing a man, Alexander Hurley, on a USB stick at his home when they raided it while investigating the Regency attack.
Dowdall was subsequently jailed for that offence, which was not connected to the Regency.
Mr Grehan asked him if the interview was before he knew the gardaí found the USB stick.
Dowdall said he knew there was a “massive possibility” the gardaí would find the USB stick before he was even arrested as he did not know where it was.
In the interview, he told gardaí he did not remember where he was the day before the Regency attack. He had actually been to Northern Ireland that day and had driven his father to the Regency to collect the room key, Mr Grehan said.
“That is a lie,” Mr Grehan said of Dowdall’s claim that he did not remember. Dowdall replied: “Well, I did remember.”
In interview, he told gardaí it had been about five years since he had been in the Regency and described a “white collar event.”
When Mr Grehan put it to him that was a lie, he said he had been in the car park at the Regency the day before the attack and “hadn’t been in the Regency.”
“So it’s half a lie,” Mr Grehan said.
“No, I was in the car park,” Dowdall replied. Mr Grehan said he had told an “elaborate lie” where he embellished on his account of his last visit to the hotel.
Dowdall had told gardaí remembering the day of the Regency was like remembering “The Twin Towers” but the day before “doesn’t mean anything to me.”
“You knew exactly where you were on the fourth and you decided to lie to the gardaí,” Mr Grehan said.
“I knew who was involved in the Regency and I couldn’t say anything about the Regency,” Dowdall said.
On the recording, gardaí were heard putting to him that his wife had reserved the room using his father-in-law’s credit card number and that his father Patrick Dowdall got the key cards.
“You would have to ask my father,” Dowdall told the gardaí.
He told Mr Grehan he had not known anything about the room or who was staying in it at that stage.
He accepted he had lied to the gardaí when he told them he did not know where he was on February 4 and that he did not remember driving his father.
Mr Grehan asked him why he continued to lie to the gardaí even though “you are telling the court that at the time you thought it was entirely innocent on your part.”
“I was arrested, Mr Grehan, I couldn’t say anything,” he replied.
Dowdall previously said it was Gerard Hutch’s brother Patsy who asked his father to book the hotel room.
Dowdall told the court Patsy Hutch “told us not to say who booked the room.” He said Patsy Hutch had told him the room “wasn’t involved in anything but it would look bad for me, don’t say anything that I asked you to book the room.”
Mr Grehan accused Dowdall of “playing with” the gardai in the interview.
The court heard gardai put the mobile phone cell site analysis to Dowdall, showing that his and his father’s phones had both been in the area of the Regency at the time his father collected the key cards.
Dowdall told the gardai he had “no comment to that at all” and “I don’t know how phones work.”
Gardai put to him they could connect the man who used the room key directly to the murder of David Byrne. Dowdall told them he did not know who they were talking about or who went into the room.
Mr Grehan said Dowdall went along with a suggestion that his father might have been booking a room to bring a girlfriend there because he was living with Dowdall at the time and would not want to bring a woman back to the house.
“I didn’t tell them the truth about the room, I explained this,” Dowdall told the court, but said at the time he still did not know what the room was for. When they told him it was part of a murder “I couldn’t say anything,” he told the court
“The last thing I thought was they were going to tell me that a person involved in the murder had stayed in that room,” he said.
In the interview, gardai asked: “can you now see how you’re connected to this?” and he replied: “I’m not connected to the murder.”
“I had no act or part in the Regency murder or any other murder in my life,” Dowdall told the court.
Later, Mr Grehan said: “you’re a convincing liar, you can look someone in the eye and say something even though you know it’s a complete lie.”
“You would say that,” Dowdall replied. “You just want to put me in the box and say I’m a liar, I’m a liar, I’m a liar, when you know I couldn’t say anything in that police station.”
Dowdall told gardai “I have never discussed the Regency Hotel with anybody.” Mr Grehan asked “will you now tell us that’s a lie?”
Dowdall repeated that he couldn’t say anything.
“But you are saying something,” Mr Grehan said.
“I couldn’t tell the truth for obvious reasons,” Dowdall said.
In interview, Dowdall denied he was the link between those involved in the murder and his wife and father who had booked the room. He also told gardai Gerard Hutch never discussed the Regency with him.
An interviewer suggested to him he had to face the consequences and was young enough to recover from it. “You have hope, you have a future,” the garda said.
Dowdall replied that the garda was telling him in a threatening tone that he was not going to recover from something.
“Why were you getting so angry with the garda?” Mr Grehan said. The garda was asking him questions and Dowdall was “throwing his toys out of the pram,” Mr Grehan said.
“My life was upside down,” Dowdall replied.
The interviewing gardai had asked him about what Mr Grehan described as Dowdall’s two “peace trips” to Northern Ireland before the Regency attack to try to get republican contacts to mediate in the Hutch-Kinahan feud.
Mr Grehan asked why he did not tell gardai about these, saying he had no reason to lie.
“Well I didn’t tell them,” Dowdall said.
In interview, the gardai showed him CCTV of his father getting the hotel room keys and Dowdall said he could not recall if he dropped his father to the hotel.
“It’s nonsense that you didn’t remember February 4, you remember it well, but you have chosen to tell the gardai you did not recall it for the reason you have stated,” Mr Grehan said
“Correct,” Dowdall replied.
Gardai asked if he had gone to Lifford, Co Donegal on February 4, 2016 and he said he did not remember but he travelled all over the country for work, used a sat nav and was not aware of where Lifford was.
The gardai presented cell site analysis showing Dowdall and his father’s phones were picked up on the Lifford mast on February 4 and Dowdall said he said he could not remember being there.
He said gardai were asking him because they suspected he had collected “Flat Cap” Murray who was from a nearby area. Dowdall said this was not true.
Mr Grehan said he had not known this at the time gardai were questioning him and suggested Dowdall was lying as a precaution. Dowdall denied this.
Dowdall had told gardai while they were questioning him he had been given a “death notice” one day and told to leave the country the next, before he was arrested.
“The last week is a complete blur to me,” he said in interview. “It’s disgraceful what happened on February 5, anybody’s life being taken, but it’s not relevant to me.”
He did not recall if he had his phone with him on February 4 and joked that it might have “got the bus” to Lifford.
Dowdall told Mr Grehan the meeting had “nothing to do with the Regency” and he had never met “Flat Cap.”
Mr Grehan then turned to the audio surveillance recording from Dowdall and Mr Hutch’s trip north on March 7, 2016.
This was presented to Dowdall by the gardai during his interview in May 2016.
“That must have come as a shock,” Mr Grehan said.
“It would come as a shock to anybody,” Dowdall replied.
When the gardai started to go through it with him, Dowdall became “no comment man,” Mr Grehan said.
“You said a lot of things you now want to run away from,” Mr Grehan said.
“So has your client,” Dowdall replied.
Dowdall is serving a four year sentence for facilitating David Byrne’s murder, while his father Patrick was jailed for two years for the same offence.
Before his evidence began, the court heard Dowdall was at severe risk and is still being assessed for the garda witness protection programme.
The non-jury trial is being heard amid heightened security at the Criminal Courts of Justice.
Two other men are also on trial with Mr Hutch. Jason Bonney (51) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock and Paul Murphy (61) of Cherry Avenue, Swords, deny providing cars for the attack team. Mr Dowdall’s evidence does not relate to them.
The trial continues before Ms Justice Tara Burns, Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.