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the regency

Dowdall denies lying when he said Gerard Hutch confessed in park to shooting David Byrne

Mr Hutch’s defence played the final excerpts today from secret garda recordings between Gerard Hutch and Dowdall

EX-SINN FÉIN councillor Jonathan Dowdall, a former co-accused of Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch who has turned State’s witness, has denied that he was lying when he said Mr Hutch confessed to him in a park that he had shot Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne.

Under cross-examination for a seventh day, Mr Hutch’s defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC put it to Dowdall that he dismissed his conversations with Gerard Hutch in the audio recording as “simply being talk” but yet it wasn’t like two people “down the pub of a Friday night”.

Dowdall, the key witness in the Regency Hotel murder trial who has pleaded guilty to facilitating Mr Byrne’s murder, replied: “It’s the same thing over and over again. You not talking about things that did happen, talking about things that never did happen and was never going to happen”.

The barrister remarked that they would get “onto something that did happen after lunch”.

The defence played the final excerpts today from secret garda recordings of conversations between Gerard Hutch and Dowdall while they were allegedly travelling north to a meeting in Strabane in Co Tyrone on Monday, March 7 2016. After certain clips were played, Mr Grehan asked the witness to explain to the court what was said in these recorded conversations.

The State’s case is that Mr Hutch had asked Jonathan Dowdall to arrange a meeting with his provisional republican contacts to mediate or resolve the Hutch-Kinahan feud due to the threats against the accused’s family and friends.

The Special Criminal Court has viewed CCTV footage of what the State says is Mr Hutch making two separate journeys to Northern Ireland with Dowdall on February 20 and March 7, 2016, just weeks after Mr Byrne was murdered.

Gerard Hutch (59), last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, denies the murder of Mr Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016.

In his direct evidence last week, Dowdall testified that Gerard Hutch told him in a park several days after the Regency attack, in or around February 8 2016, that he and another man had shot Mr Byrne at the hotel.

The ex-politician testified that the accused said he “wasn’t happy about shooting the young lad David Byrne and David Byrne being killed”.

Asked by prosecution counsel Sean Gillane SC if Mr Hutch had said who had shot Mr Byrne at the Regency Hotel in 2016, Dowdall replied: “He said it was him and ‘Mago’ Gately”.

Mr Grehan, representing Mr Hutch, opened his cross-examination last Tuesday by telling Dowdall that he wanted to be “very clear” that the defence position was that the witness had told “two big lies” to the court, namely that his client had collected keys cards for a room at the Regency Hotel from Dowdall and his father on Richmond Road on February 4 2016 and that Gerard Hutch had “confessed” to him in a park several days later.

An excerpt of the audio recording was played to the witness today where Dowdall tells Gerard Hutch “that’s something we never even thought of” to say to them.

“I know it’s a stupid thing and it’s a lie,” Dowdall says. “Ya’s never did the f**king Regency.”

Gerard Hutch replied: “I don’t think anything should be brought up who done what… you just can’t go into it.”

Mr Grehan asked Dowdall today if he was referring to the Hutch gang when he said “ya’s”.

“That’s correct but he did tell them he did it,” said the witness, and that this was in their alleged meeting in the park.

Dowdall added: “When I asked about the guns, he said he knows.”

Mr Grehan put it to Dowdall that he was lying about the park. “The park is not a lie,” replied Dowdall.

Another excerpt of the audio recording was then played to Dowdall, where the witness asks Gerard Hutch: “Can you remember that meetin with Kevin we, ya never admitted that, that was you at Regency, did ye not?”

Gerard Hutch replies: “What?”

Dowdall then says: “We did obviously if ye’re givin them the bleedin yokes but he’d hardly go in to that would he”.

Gerard Hutch says: “What d’ya mean, say that again”

Dowdall says: “I said we never admitted that that was anythin to do with yous at the Regency but obviously we did by givin them the yokes”

Gerard Hutch says: “Yeah he knows, yeah”

Dowdall then says: “I wouldn’t say they’d be stupid and fuckin say anythin”

Asking him about this conversation today, Dowdall told Mr Grehan that he was referring to a meeting with ‘Kevin Tyrone O’Neill’ three weeks previously on February 20, 2016. Dowdall said he had not been at that meeting.

Dowdall said he was asking because he was still worried that he was being blamed for bringing ‘Flat Cap’ Kevin Murray into the Regency hotel.

Mr Grehan put it to Dowdall that when the prosecution played this excerpt during his direct evidence last week and when gardai then took a statement from him, the witness said he was talking about the younger Hutches not wanting the feud to stop.

Dowdall told counsel today that he had said it in two ways in the audio recording; “the first ‘you’ meaning him and then ‘you’s’ meaning the whole lot of them”.

Mr Grehan asked if he could take it that “you’s” is a reference to the Hutch gang. “But there is also a reference saying ‘you’ isn’t there,” said Dowdall.

The barrister put it to the witness that when he was asked to clarify “you at the Regency” in his statement to gardai last week he had changed it to “you’s”. Dowdall replied: “I say first you and then tell them you’s” in the audio recording.

Dowdall said what he said on the transcript was different and his direct evidence was “just a variation”.

The witness told counsel he didn’t know what he was arguing with saying; “I say you and then said you’s on the repeat”.

Mr Grehan also referred to a clip in the recording where Dowdall told the accused, “we wana try and find out where that c*** is that tried to get you in Spain”. The witness told counsel he was going away and that it was never going to happen.

The lawyer went on to put it to Dowdall that the accused seemed doubtful in the audio whether he could trust northern dissidents as they might play both sides and that he had guaranteed him they wouldn’t. “I couldn’t guarantee anything,” said Dowdall.

The barrister said he was back talking about bombs in the recording to which Dowdall said it was nonsense.

“I presume it is not nonsense when you say you don’t want children’s blood on your hands?” asked Mr Grehan. “I couldn’t do it and it wasn’t going to happen and the rest is just talk between two people,” he replied.

Counsel said it wasn’t like two people down the pub of a Friday night but yet he dismissed it as “simply being talk”. “It’s the same thing over and over again,” replied Dowdall. “You not talking about things that did happen, talking about things that never did happen and was never going to happen”

Mr Grehan remarked that they would get “onto something that did happen after lunch”.

Counsel put it to Dowdall that he signed off from Gerard Hutch by saying he would go up to Pearse McAuley on Thursday. “I didn’t Mr Grehan,” he replied.

The barrister told the witness that he would be glad to know that this was the last clip from the audio recording he intended to play.

Dowdall will continue his cross-examination this afternoon before presiding judge Ms Justice Tara Burns sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.


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 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 for use by the perpetrators the night before the attack.

Dowdall – who previously served as an elected Sinn Fein councillor in the north inner city ward in May 2014 and resigned less than one year later – was jailed by the Special Criminal Court for four years for the facilitation offence.

Following Dowdall’s sentence on October 3, a nolle prosequi – a decision not to proceed – was entered on the murder charge against the former Dublin city councillor.

Dowdall’s father Patrick Dowdall (65) was jailed for two years before the Regency trial started after he also admitted his part in booking the hotel room for the raiders.

Both Jonathan and Patrick Dowdall have pleaded guilty to participating in or contributing to activity intending to or being reckless as to whether such participation or contribution could facilitate the commission of a serious offence by a criminal organisation or any of its members, to wit the murder of David Byrne, by making a room available at the Regency Hotel, Drumcondra, Dublin 9 for that criminal organisation or its members, within the State on February 4, 2016.

The prosecution case is that the late dissident republican Kevin Murray used the hotel room that was booked at the Regency on the night of February 4, that he was the man seen wearing a flat cap when Mr Byrne was killed and that he cooperated with the “tactical team” that raided the Regency Hotel on February 5. Mr Murray died from motor neurone disease in 2017 before he could be brought to trial.

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 (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 February 5, 2016.

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