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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
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THE MORNING LEAD
The Dowdall-Hutch tapes: What the court heard from secret garda recordings
The uncovered conversation reveals the two men’s discussions about gardaí, the Kinahan cartel, and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.

MORE THAN TEN hours of audio has been played for the Special Criminal Court of a secret garda recording that taped conversations between Jonathan Dowdall and Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch.

Gardaí captured the recording through a bugging and tracking device as the two men allegedly travelled to Northern Ireland to meet with republicans a month after the killing of David Byrne in the Regency Hotel in 2016.

The uncovered conversation reveals the two men’s discussions about the garda investigation, the Kinahan cartel, and their opinion of Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. They believed McDonald should have attended the funeral of Edward Hutch, Gerard’s brother, after he was murdered the previous month, while Dowdall claimed the party used the Hutch family for money and votes.

Hutch (59), last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, is on trial at the Special Criminal Court accused of the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel on 5 February 2016, which he denies.

Jonathan Dowdall (44) – a married father of four and former Sinn Féin councillor – with an address at Navan Road, Cabra, Dublin 7 – was due to stand trial for Byrne’s murder alongside Gerard Hutch but pleaded guilty in advance of the trial to a lesser charge of facilitating the Hutch gang by making a hotel room available ahead of the murder.

The court had previously heard that gardaí had destroyed the records under the Surveillance Act of 2009 because they believed they were not required for a prosecution or appeal.

However, on Monday, the court was told that gardaí had recovered the records.

The Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau conducted a “fairly extensive” operation that included an examination of a desktop computer that had been listed for destruction, where a working copy of the material was located.

The court has listened to the audio and been shown a transcript but it has not yet been decided whether the evidence will be deemed admissible.

Defending Counsel Brendan Grehan for Hutch has argued that the State was “acting illegally” when it continued to use the bugging device after the men had travelled to Northern Ireland.

“The State cannot be allowed to benefit from its own illegality and the fruits of that harvest should not be admitted into the trial,” Grehan has said. 

Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, is due to respond on Monday before the judges make a decision.   

The ten hours of audio began at 2.20pm on 7 March 2016 and lasted until the early hours of the following day.

The Regency murder

The court was played hours of the conversations between the two men, during which they talked about a range of topics. Discussing the investigation and media coverage of the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel, Dowdall said that the newspapers didn’t have a “fucking clue about the Regency”.

“I don’t think the police know what is being portrayed in the paper,” Dowdall said.

Hutch responded that “they don’t know” and that “sure the fucking six people don’t even know”, “no one fucking knows”, and “the people that were there themselves don’t fuckin know”.

He said it was “all speculation” looking at “the snaps”.

“The cops are going around like headless chickens,” Hutch said, adding that “loads of fuck ups have after been made”.

That night, Dowdall asked Hutch if he missed “goin down the club”, to which Hutch said: “Not really no. I’d be more concerned about the cops, I’d be hidin’ on the cops”.

Dowdall said “it’s a nightmare for ya” and Hutch replied: “They were at the airport outside the plane waitin for me and they haven’t seen me since. They seen me at the funeral.”

“I’d say they done your head in when they raided ur gaff,” Dowdall said.

“I’d say they weren’t expecting me to be there, ya know,” Hutch said.

Dowdall asked Hutch “how hard” he thought “the cops” would “push” to “get to the bottom of that”, with Hutch replying that they would “try all the avenues” but he didn’t think “they have that much to go on”.

Another section recorded Dowdall laughing and saying: “All the garda seem to want outta this is their bleedin sub machine guns back d’ya know what I mean.”

Hutch replied, “Yeah, their overtime” and said, “them sub machine guns, them Uzi’s and all that they’re all lethal. They’re no good.”

Dowdall said that “they’re not worth a bollix”, with Hutch adding, “they’re dangerous fucking things now the other ones, them heckler”.

Dowdall asked: “They’re the ones they want back Gerard, is it?”

Hutch replied: “Probably.”

Dowdall also told Hutch that he kept “changin the chip” in his phone and that every night he hid the chip.

Dowdall said: “They said to Patsy give us the code off the phone.”

Hutch replied: “I wouldn’t give them the code, if they broke into the phone, it’d be inadmissible.”

Dowdall replied that “even when they delete the texts its still on the phone [sic]” and that he “wouldn’t leave [his] phone lyin around” [sic].

Meeting with republicans

The two men were allegedly driving to a meeting in Strabane, Co Tyrone with dissident republican contacts.

The prosecution has argued that a reference to “three yokes” during the men’s conversation relates to three assault rifles used in the Regency Hotel being given to Republicans in Northern Ireland.

Hutch told Dowdall that “these three yokes we’re throwin them up to them either way”.

He said “there’s a present them three yokes”, that he wanted “to throw them up there to them as a present”, and that he needed to “push them” to get “them outta the village”.

“Twelve months time, there’s two RUC men dead there and them things are ballistically traced,” Hutch said.

Dowdall replied that “they’re gonna blame them on the Regency”.

Hutch said that “any smart copper would be saying it’s a joint yoke”.

Later in the recording, Dowdall told Hutch: “And d’ya know what the best move you did was. I know it’s a small thing. I don’t know if you thought of it Gerard at the time I certainly didn’t but the best thing that happened was the particular yokes that was used. That in itself made some fuckin statement”.

Hutch replied: “Ah massive statement”.

He later said that “anyone with cop on would know immediately that cops don’t use them”.

The Kinahan cartel

The discussion between the two men often came back to the Kinahan cartel, particularly their opinions of the Kinahans and the idea of a peace agreement.

Hutch told Dowdall that in photographs in the media following the Regency Hotel attack, Daniel Kinahan looked “in a fuckin heap”.

Dowdall said that Hutch is “used to the pressure from the cops through the years”, with Hutch replying, “I’d be like that if some c*** came running in with an AK-47″ and that if Kinahan wasn’t in “an awful way ya’d say he’s totally disturbed”.

At one point, Dowdall warned Hutch about becoming complacent after a peace deal and said it could be “game over for your whole fucking family”.

Hutch replied: “I know, ya have to be careful of these c****, their capabilities.”

Dowdall said there’s “too many of them” and that “them Kinahan’s are a big fucking army”.

Referring to the murder of his brother Edward “Neddy” Hutch the previous month, Hutch said: “The c**** who done Neddy have to fucking go.”

He described them as “just fucking hitmen” and said the “shooting has to stop” and that the IRA “would have to be at the meet”.

Dowdall said “they’re c****, they’d give up their ma, they would” and that it “can’t go on like this… ya can’t live our lives like this”.

At another point, Hutch said that there had to be “fuckin mediation for jaysus sake” and that the Kinahans had been “after getting a good wallop and a good bang there”.

Dowdall replied, “they pushed too hard, didn’t they Gerard on the wrong c*** so what’s what happened”, to which Hutch agreed.

The court heard Dowdall tell Hutch that “there’s nothin’ worse than a bully Gerard” and that he’d be “careful of any meeting of anybody for peace or anything”.

He asked Hutch if he had read about the Kinahans “destroying themselves” in the newspaper and that they were “runnin’ out of money”.

The recording also captured Dowdall discussing how “cops are sayin’ that they can’t get over how hard, how focused they are” and their “hardened attitude”.

Dowdall told Hutch: “This is not your fight, it can’t be all left on your shoulders either Gerard… ya reared your kids right, they need you as much as the next fella needs their da”.

Dowdall referred to “all the bleeding killins” and “dealing with the bleedin little wankers that are up and comin”.

Hutch said it was “disgraceful” and that “there had to be another way”.

“There’s other ways of punishin’ people. Don’t be using a gun all the time. The heartbreak that’s left behind when a fuckin’ persons dead,” Hutch said, adding that “we don’t want any innocent c**** shot” and that “it’s terrible to do that”.

Later in the conversation, Dowdall asked Hutch if there “was anyone that you can message that you trust 100 per cent for your man’s address for them two c**** that did that to you in Spain”.

“No, I’d have to be in Dublin, maybe go around and get them,” Hutch replied.

Hutch said he wanted to meet the Kinahans to arrange a ceasefire and have mediation in the ongoing feud. He wanted to put it “to bed” and thought it was the best option to avoid a “war” with “casualties on both sides”.

In the later recording that night, discussing the Kinahans again, Dowdall said it seemed they were “blinded by greed” and “willing to overlook everything for money”.

Hutch added that it wasn’t just about money but about “power”. He said the Kinahans wanted “to be the biggest gang in Europe”.

Dowdall asks Hutch if he would be happy “with just a few quid Gerard under the radar”.

Hutch says “yeah” and that he doesn’t want “hundreds of millions”.

Dowdall asks: “I don’t think any country would let them in now Gerard do you?”

The accused says: “What?”

Dowdall says: “I’d say any country they go to in Europe they be scourged in it til they leave, d’ya know what I mean”.

Politics

The recording includes audio of Dowdall criticising Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald for not attending the funeral of Edward Hutch, Gerard’s brother, after he was murdered.

“She didn’t attend the innocent man’s funeral. She was on the telly the night Neddy got shot and she branded everyone as scumbags, she said they’re all scumbags,” Dowdall said.

“She shoulda turned around and said, I know that deceased man and I know that family. It’d be different Gerard if she was a politician and it was not her area. Yous are in her area and she shoulda said that,” he said.

Hutch said there wasn’t “one of them at” the funeral.

Dowdall said: “But ya’s were good enough to use Gerard for votes, ya’s were good enough to use for money.”

The former Sinn Féin councillor said McDonald should have said it was untrue that Hutch was involved in drugs.

Hutch replied: “They try to keep away from dodgy subjects at a dodgy time. They were in enough shit with the fuckin Special Criminal Court and Slab Murphy.”

Dowdall said it was “in her area”, that she was “stickin her head under the sand on it”, and that “that’ll bite her”.

The men also discussed Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, and other matters about Sinn Féin.

Dowdall said that Sinn Fein was “nearly big enough”, that the party would be “stupid” not to go into coalition and that they “can’t sit back and throw their toys out of the pram”.

He said that Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin was “very good”, that “his bird is your wan Lynn Boylan” and that “he was the one that made a stand”.

Hutch said that “you have to go with what’s in the best interests of the country, not what’s in the interest of your party”.

Dowdall said that “it’s easy for Sinn Fein to sit back like Labour and say that’s wrong”.

Celebrities

At one point in the conversation, Hutch mentioned that “Clinchy”, an actor in Love/Hate, had been “put in custody”.

That led to a conversation about celebrities including singers Adele and Imelda May.

Hutch said that he liked singer Imelda May, to which Dowdall replied: “She’s mad as a bleedin’ brush.”

At another point, the song “Missing” by UK duo Everything But the Girl started playing on the radio, which led to Hutch laughing and saying “get two Es will ya”.

Dowdall said: “They were good days them.” 

Co-accused

Dowdall has been jailed by the Special Criminal Court for four years for facilitating the Hutch gang in the notorious murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne.

The former Dublin councillor is currently being assessed for the Witness Protection Program after agreeing to testify against former co-accused Gerard Hutch, who is charged with Byrne’s murder.

Byrne, from Crumlin, was shot dead at the hotel in Whitehall, Dublin 9 after five men, three disguised as armed gardaí in tactical clothing and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, stormed the building during the attack, which was hosting a boxing weigh-in at the time. The victim was shot by two of the tactical assailants and further rounds were delivered to his head and body.

Byrne died after suffering catastrophic injuries from six gunshots fired from a high-velocity weapon to the head, face, stomach, hand and legs.

Hutch’s two co-accused – Paul Murphy (61), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin and Jason Bonney (50), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13 have pleaded not guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of David Byrne by providing access to motor vehicles on 5 February 2016.

The trial continues on Monday before Ms Justice Tara Burns sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone. 

Author
Lauren Boland and Alison O'Riordan