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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Sasko Lazarov/ Armed gardai outside the Criminal Courts of Justice during the trial last week.
regency hotel trial

Search warrant for Jonathan Dowdall's home was on basis of guns and explosives being stored, Hutch trial hears

Former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall has pleaded guilty to facilitating the the murder of David Byrne.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 14th 2022, 6:47 PM

A SEARCH WARRANT was obtained for former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall’s home on the basis that firearms and explosives were being stored there on behalf of the IRA, an inspector has told the Special Criminal Court.

The non-jury court heard that the warrant was executed on Dowdall’s house an hour after three AK-47 assault rifles – used in the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne at the Regency Hotel – were recovered by gardai in the boot of convicted IRA member Shane Rowan’s car.

The evidence was given in the trial of Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch (59), of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, who denies the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016.

Jonathan Dowdall (44) – a married father of four with an address at Navan Road, Cabra, Dublin 7 – was due to stand trial for Mr Byrne’s murder alongside Hutch but pleaded guilty in advance of the trial to a lesser charge of facilitating the murder. 

Under cross-examination, Inspector Padraig Boyce was asked Brendan Grehan SC, defending Mr Hutch, if he knew anything about a tracker being fitted to Dowdall’s Land Cruiser. Insp Boyce said he was aware that there was “an audio” but not a tracker.

Insp Boyce agreed that he was involved in obtaining a warrant to search the home of Jonathan Dowdall.

“As I understand, is that on the basis at the time that firearms and explosives on behalf of the IRA were being stored at his home?” asked Mr Grehan.

“Yes, that is the information I had at the time from Detective Superintendent Tom Maguire,” he replied, adding that he did not know the source of this information.

Grehan put it to Insp Boyce that this was not an independent belief that he had himself but one that was communicated to him.

“I was aware there were interactions between Shane Rowan and Jonathan Dowdall,” he said.

Insp Boyce said he got the warrant on 4 March 2016 and executed it shortly after 8pm on 9 March 2016.

“I was involved with the firearms at Slane earlier that evening,” said the witness.

He agreed that he was present when three AK-47 assault rifles were found in the boot of Rowan’s car.

The court has heard that Shane Rowan, last of Forest Park, Killygordan, in County Donegal was driving a grey Vauxhall Insignia car when he was stopped outside Slane in Co Meath at 7.05pm on March 9, 2016.

The vehicle was searched and three assault rifles modelled on original AK-47′s and ammunition were found in the boot of the car.

Evidence has been given that bullet cases found at the Regency Hotel murder scene were fired by the three AK-47 assault rifles.

Earlier today, the court heard that a tracking device was fitted to Dowdall’s Land Cruiser jeep when he drove Gerard Hutch across the border two weeks after the murder of Byrne.


Now retired Detective Inspector William Hanrahan told the non-jury court that he was aware that the former Sinn Fein councillor’s vehicle had a tracking device on it.

He also said that the information came from the PSNI that the jeep had been at a BP petrol station on the Newry Road in Co Armagh on 20 February, 2016 and later at the Quays Shopping Centre in Newry, Co Down.

The Special Criminal Court has already viewed CCTV footage of what the State says is Gerard Hutch making two separate journeys to Northern Ireland with Jonathan Dowdall on 20 February and 7 March, 2016.

In his opening address, Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, said it was the State’s case that Hutch had asked Dowdall to arrange a meeting with provisional republicans to mediate or resolve the Hutch-Kinahan feud due to the threats against the accused’s family and friends.

Dowdall had driven Gerard Hutch to meet the republicans on 20 February 2016, he said.

The State also said in their opening speech that Dowdall drove Gerard Hutch north to a second meeting in Strabane in Co Tyrone on 7 March 2016 and that their vehicle was the subject of surveillance.

‘Great significance’

On 2 November, defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr Hutch, told his client’s murder trial that it was “of great significance” whether gardai deployed a tracker device on a jeep belonging to Jonathan Dowdall and illegally used it while the vehicle was in Northern Ireland.

The lawyer said it would be very important in relation to the tracker device deployed in Northern Ireland but of even greater importance would be whether a listening bug was deployed outside the State, which would raise itself in due course in the trial.

Retired Special Detective Unit Inspector William Hanrahan today told Mr Gillane that he asked a member of the PSNI for footage of a vehicle from 9.50am at a BP petrol station on the Newry Road and from 7pm at the Quays Shopping Centre in Newry.

Under cross-examination, Mr Hanrahan agreed with Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr Hutch, that he and been attached to the SDU for most of his career and that it mainly dealt with terrorism. The witness said there was information relating to firearms and explosives being transported to the north from members of the IRA.

Mr Hanrahan said he would have met with Detective Superintendent William Johnston and that he would have made contact with the PSNI.

“Orally it came from the PSNI to Crime and Security to ask me to look into it,” he said.

When asked who would have made the “very specific request” in relation to checking the CCTV at the BP station on the Newry Road in Co Armagh at 9.15am on February 20.

“It would have come from Crime and Security to me and it [the information] came from the PSNI in Northern Ireland,” he said.

Mr Grehan asked Mr Hanrahan if he was aware that there was a tracker device fitted on Dowdall’s Land Cruiser and the witness said he was.

“Are you saying that the PSNI supplied intelligence to Crime and Security in relation to this vehicle in Northern Ireland and you were then contacted by Crime and Security and asked to contact a different section of PSNI to canvas for the CCTV,” asked Mr Grehan.

Mr Hanrahan agreed that this was what he was saying.

The witness told Mr Grehan that this was the extent of his involvement concerning CCTV in Northern Ireland.

Asked how he was aware that the intelligence about the vehicle at the BP garage and at the Quays Shopping Centre came from the PSNI, Mr Hanrahan said it was what he was told.

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 Mr Byrne’s murder.

Mr 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.

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

Mr Hutch’s two co-accused – Paul Murphy (59), 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 this afternoon before Ms Justice Tara Burns sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.