Dowdall, is a Serial Liar, Trial of the Monk, Continues?

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Jonathan Dowdall’s phone data fails to back up claim he met Hutch in park on alleged ‘confession’ date

Story by Paul Healy • Yesterday 20:00

There is “nothing to suggest” that Jonathan Dowdall was in a park at the time he said Gerry Hutch confessed to him there, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Sarah Skedd, a senior crime analyst who was tasked by gardai with investigating phone data in the Regency murder case, was again before the non-jury trial as the proposed final witness for the prosecution on Friday.

Mr Hutch (59) denies murdering Kinahan cartel associate David Byrne in Dublin’s Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016.

State witness Jonathan Dowdall had alleged to gardai that Hutch confessed to him at a park in Whitehall in Dublin on February 8 – the same day Eddie Hutch was murdered – and that it happened at 11:30am – or before midday.

However on Friday it emerged that Dowdall’s claims of the meet on February 8th cannot be backed up by the phone data at all.

Ms Skedd’s evidence also revealed that there did not appear to have been any contact between Dowdall and Hutch via calls or texts on the day prior – the only day that his phone does ping off a mast near the park.

“None of the numbers” she said, “stand out as being potentially used by Gerard Hutch,” Ms Skedd told the court.

The expert analyst, who worked with gardai on this case, did however state that her analysis would not have covered any potential contact made on internet-based applications.

Under cross-examination from Brendan Grehan SC who is defending Hutch, Ms Skedd was asked about numerous cell sites that are within the vicinity of the park in Whitehall, where Dowdall claims he met Hutch on either February 7th or 8th, and the accused confessed to him.

Mr Grehan said there was “no evidence” to support that Dowdall was in the park before midday on the 8th, despite his claims – and the witness agreed.

This is because Dowdall’s phone was pinging off masts close to his home on the Navan Road right up to 12:58pm on the 8th – and then in Dundalk after 1pm, Monaghan and then back home for the remainder of the day.

Ms Sked agreed with Mr Grehan and had earlier said that on the basis of the records of that day there was “no clear opportunity” for Dowdall to meet Hutch in the park in Whitehall.

Court sketches of Gerry Hutch (left) and Jonathan Dowdall (right) at the Regency murder trial being heard at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin© Elizabeth Cook/PA

However phone data analysis did show that Dowdall’s phone did ping off a cell site at Collins Avenue in Whitehall on the 7th – albeit at 3:16pm.

The time differs from Dowdall’s previous claims that the meeting with Hutch happened before midday.

Mr Grehan also put it to the witness that there are cell sites that are closer in proximity and that ought to pick up that park, and asked how it is that the site at Collins Avenue, which is facing in the opposite direction, is the one that picked Dowdall’s phone up on the 7th.

Ms Skedd told the court there are “a lot of variabilities” at play and it is possible that if other masts in the area are busy, then another mast could pick up the signal instead.

In terms of Dowdall’s movements on the 7th of February, Ms Skedd’s evidence reveals that his phone last pinged near his home on the Navan Road throughout the morning, right up to 12:34pm.

On Friday the court heard that it didn’t ping again until 3:16pm – at the mast in Whitehall – which led Mr Grehan to ask the witness why that would be the case.

Ms Skedd said that there “may be many reasons for this” and said that a phone could be turned off, be in airplane mode, be out of coverage, or have its data off.

That prompted Mr Grehan to say that there was therefore “nothing to suggest” that Dowdall was in the park in Whitehall before 12 o’clock on the 7th either.

Ms Skedd agreed with Mr Grehan that that was the case.

When it comes to Dowdall’s phone emanating from the mast at Collins Avenue near Whitehall, Mr Grehan pointed out that according to Ms Sked’s evidence, further phone data shows his data emanating from Meakstown in Finglas at 3:21pm.

Mr Grehan asserted that “when you take all that together, does it not suggest” that Dowdall must have been traveling in a vehicle at this time.

He further asserted that it was not possible for Dowdall to stop off in the park and meet with Hutch during this time – and that he must have been simply traveling by car past the mast in Collins Avenue when his phone pinged off it.

He put it to Ms Sked that it appeared from the phone data that Dowdall was “moving continuously.

Ms Skedd agreed that it does “from 15:16 onwards,” but argued that Dowdall could theoretically have been in the park at a time before that.

Later in the day John Fitzgerald SC, defending for Jason Bonney, put it to Ms Sked that there was a missing hour in her records of the movements of his BMW X5 on February 5, 2016 – the day of the Regency shooting.

Mr Fitzgerald alleges that it is his case that Mr Bonney’s father was driving the vehicle from Newbrook avenue – and not his client.

He put it to Ms Sked that on the basis of the missing hour in her data she cannot deny their case that the”driver changed” and that his father drove the jeep and was seen doing so.

Ms Sked said no in response to this.

Ms Sked also brought the court in detail through her records of the movements of Shane Rowan and Patsy Hutch on the day the pair met at the Malahide Industrial Estate on March 9, 2016.

She told the court that on the basis of Garda NSU observations that day, an individual placed the suspected AK47 rifles used in the Regency into the boot of Mr Rowan’s Insignia after he parked it up near the estate.

Rowan was observed leaving his vehicle for a period of time that day and getting into a Toyota Yaris driven by Patsy Hutch, a brother of the accused, who he sat with for a period of time before returning to the Insignia.

Later that evening Rowan was pulled over by gardai and caught with the rifles in the Slane area of Co Meath.

Earlier in the day Ms Skedd went through in detail her analysis of Jonathan Dowdall’s phone data on both the 7th and 8th of February, and said in her own determination, the State witness couldn’t have met Hutch on the 8th.

Her findings showed that Dowdall’s phone was emanating from cell sites close to the Navan Road at 11:58 – the time when he had claimed he met Hutch.

The records showed that Dowdall’s phone was then emanating from cell sites consistent with travel towards Dundalk after 1pm and then on to Monaghan, north Dublin and back to the Navan Road where he remained from 16:47 on.

Ms Skedd said that therefore “there doesn’t appear to be any clear opportunity” for Dowdall to have gone to the park in Whitehall on that day.

However the records from February 7th did show that Dowdall’s phone emanated from a cell site off Collins Avenue – an area that does potentially cover the park in Whitehall – at 15:16 on February 7th.

Dowdall’s previous cell site data showed he was in the Navan Road area at 12:14 that day, before being at Collins Avenue at 3:16, and then back at the Navan Road area for the rest of the day.

Going through the records in detail, Ms Skedd said there did not appear to have been any contact to Dowdall from Gerry Hutch that day.

“None of the numbers” she said, “stand out as being potentially used by Gerard Hutch.”

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