Jonathan Dowdall challenged in court as phone records show he wasn’t in park at time Gerry Hutch ‘confessed’ to him
The bombshell revelation came at the end of what was Dowdall’s final day being grilled by Defence Counsel Brendan Grehan
22nd December 2022
State witness Jonathan Dowdall has been challenged on the fact that phone records show he wasn’t in a park at the time he claimed Gerry Hutch confessed to him there.
The bombshell revelation came at the end of what was Dowdall’s final day being grilled by Defence Counsel Brendan Grehan – after eight days in the witness box.
Hutch (59) is on trial before the Special Criminal Court for the murder of Kinahan cartel associate David Byrne in Dublin’s Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016 – a charge he denies.
During the course of his final day of cross-examination on Wednesday, Dowdall also spoke about how he would “always rebuild” his life even if it meant he had to “dig up dogsh*t” in a kennel.
The witness, who admits he lied in the past but says he is telling the truth now, also claimed before the non-jury trial that he’d heard in prison that co-accused men Jason Bonney and Paul Murphy would be shot if they plead guilty.
Mr Grehan SC, defending for Hutch had also hoped to play a portion of a tape Dowdall once had someone record of him waterboarding a man in his home – but presiding Judge Ms Justice Tara Burns ultimately ruled against it.
The key accusation made by Dowdall, who is serving a four-year prison sentence for facilitating the murder of Byrne, is that Hutch confessed to him in a park in Whitehall, Dublin on either the Sunday or the Monday after the Regency Hotel attack in February 2016.
Dowdall claims ‘The Monk’ told him he wasn’t happy “about shooting that lad David Byrne,” and claims the accused confessed that he and James ‘Mago’ Gately shot him sometime between 11am and midday.
But today Mr Grehan put it to Dowdall that a phone analyst had been brought in to confirm his whereabouts at the time and found that his phone was pinging off a mast near the Navan Road at the time on Monday, February 8.
After that it pinged off the Dundalk area after 1pm, he said, causing the witness to say “then it wasn’t the 8th was it?”
Mr Grehan put it to the witness that he had repeatedly given gardai the impression that it was on the Monday, as this was the same day he later got a call from Patsy Hutch’s wife Kay who told him that Eddie Hutch had been shot dead.
Mr Grehan challenged Dowdall that these were “kind of two very significant events” in his life, and said it “should be clear in your mind.”
But Dowdall said he wasn’t “100 percent sure” if he met Hutch on the Sunday or the Monday morning and insisted he had told gardai this.
The phone record had confirmed that Dowdall did receive a phone call from Patsy’s wife at 8:20pm on the Monday, shortly after Eddie Hutch, a brother of the accused, had been shot dead at his home in the inner city.
It was further put to Dowdall that the phone records did show his phone pinging off a mast in Whitehall on the Sunday – at 3:16pm.
The witness said his memory was that he met Hutch in the park in the morning, but maybe it was a different time.
Mr Grehan followed that up that throughout this time Dowdall had always been clear that he said he met Hutch between 11am and midday.
“You have me confused here Mr Grehan,” Dowdall said.
The senior barrister said initially there was nothing other than Dowdall’s word to support his story, but now with the phone analysis “it cannot have been the eighth,” and “it appears as though it cannot have been the 7th either.”
Mr Grehan further put it to the witness: “Are we going to move time, are we? To suit the record?”
He said all that we have to firm up Dowdall’s claim here is his “say so” – adding that throughout this process the witness has admitted he tells lies.
But Dowdall was insistent that he was telling the truth.
“What I’m telling is the truth. At the end of it, the truth is the truth.
“He told me he shot the kid and he met me in the park,” he said.
The former Sinn Fein councillor then alleged that if it were not for him being on the stand “the whole case was going to be based off Colm Fox,” – a reference to the deceased Superintendent.
He finished his statement by saying that it was “up to the judges in this chamber” and if “they don’t believe me, that’s up to them.”
At the end of this Mr Grehan SC thanked Dowdall after what was a grueling seven days of cross-examining the witness.
Mr Dowdall asked the judges “is it over now?” to which he was told it was, and he was allowed to leave the room.
Earlier in the day Mr Grehan indicated to the court that he wished to play a tape of Dowdall torturing and waterboarding Alexander Hurley – a man he falsely imprisoned in his own home.
But after ruling on the issue following an objection from the prosecution, Ms Justice Tara Burns said there was no reason for the video to be played.
The judge said that Dowdall had already been challenged about the incident, he accepted it occurred and there was no evidential basis for it now to be played.
Mr Grehan then moved on instead to play the court a recording of Jonathan Dowdall’s interview with Joe Duffy on RTE radio – which occurred just after his home was raided by gardai.
Afterwards the senior counsel put it to the witness that he sounded “awfully convincing” in telling Joe Duffy that he wasn’t involved in criminality.
Dowdall said he accepts that he would be “classed as a criminal now” because of the incident with Mr Hurley, but insisted that he did “work me hole off” his entire life as he says to the presenter, and that his money was not made from “ill-gotten gains.”
Mr Grehan put it to the witness that when gardai came speaking to him about his movements on February 4, 2016, a day before the Regency “you clammed up” and told them nothing “contrary to your performance on Joe Duffy.”
“You thought you could ride it out by going on Joe Duffy by playing the indignant victim of a plot,” he said to the witness.
“Once the gardai started to challenge you, you clam up. You say nothing.
“The man who can’t shut up on Joe Duffy can’t say anything,” he said.
During this exchange Dowdall was challenged that he knew his life was over once gardai questioned him about the Hurley incident.
But the witness said his intentions were to rebuild his life and said “If I was to start off again, I’m sure I’d succeed.”
He added that before the murder charge “there could have been some hope.”
Mr Grehan put it to him that that was exactly the case, but Dowdall interrupted and said even now he will try to rebuild his life after this.
“I will always rebuild my life. No matter if I have to dig up dog sh*te, cleaning in a kennel,” he said.
Later in that exchange Dowdall was challenged about not speaking to gardai before November 2021.
The witness then claimed before the court that while in Wheatfield Prison, he had heard about the two co-accused men Jason Bonney and Paul Murphy -and that “if any of them pleaded guilty they’d be shot.”
Dowdall also confirmed in this exchange that he did tell a psychologist that if he went to court in October “I would be found guilty of murder.”
He maintained that this was because he couldn’t say anything at this juncture and he couldn’t defend himself.
Earlier Dowdall was also further challenged about his claim that he waited in the Regency Hotel car park while his father went inside to book the room – the night before the shooting.
The witness was played CCTV footage of his father entering and leaving the hotel – and Mr Grehan put it to him that “there’s no sign of you in all of this.”
Dowdall insisted that he was there and said he couldn’t explain why the footage did not pick him up.
Wednesday marked the end of Jonathan Dowdall’s cross-examination by the Defence – and he has now been returned to Limerick Prison, where he is serving his sentence.
The trial has concluded now for the Christmas break, and is set to continue again on January 11.