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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
RTÉ Jonathan Dowdall gave evidence today at the trial of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch
regency hotel trial

Jonathan Dowdall tells court that Hutch said he and another man had shot David Byrne

Dowdall said Hutch told him that he and another man shot David Byrne dead at the Regency hotel.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 12th 2022, 7:40 PM

EX-SINN FÉIN COUNCILLOR Jonathan Dowdall has taken to the stand against his former co-accused Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch, giving evidence that Hutch said that he and another man had shot Kinahan cartel member David Byrne at the Regency Hotel.

Dowdall also told prosecution counsel Sean Gillane SC that Hutch said he “wasn’t happy about shooting the young lad David Byrne and David Byrne being killed”.

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

Dowdall also told the court of how he was asked to help mediate the Hutch/Kinahan feud and wanted “to clear up” that he was being asked to speak to “republican people” and there wasn’t “provisional people in any of it; it was dissident people”. Dowdall later said that the group he spoke to was the “New IRA”.

Heightened security 

Amid heightened security arrangements at the Criminal Courts of Justice today on Parkgate Street in Dublin, key witness Jonathan Dowdall gave evidence in the trial of Hutch (59), last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, who denies the murder of Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on 5 February 2016.

Dowdall, who was wearing a navy suit and an open neck blue shirt, was brought into court by two gardaí and three prison officers through the jury entrance rather than the cells or public entrance.

Facing the three accused men, who are sitting together in the dock of the non-jury court, Dowdall described the events leading up to the Regency shooting and its aftermath to a packed courtroom.

Sadie Byrne and James ‘Jaws’ Byrne were in court to hear Dowdall, who facilitated the murder of their son David during the Hutch Kinahan feud, testify for the State.

Giving evidence today from the jury box, Dowdall told Gillane that he was originally from Ballybough on the North Strand of “the north inner city”.

He said he first got to know the Hutch family mainly through his mother but also his grandmother.

“Me mother was Gerard’s wife’s close friend and then Patsy’s children worked on the stall. My sister was good friends with [the Hutch's] older daughter,” he explained. 

How the two met

Asked if he knew Gerard Hutch, Dowdall said he got to know him when he was around 15 or 16 years old and would see him at his house “from time to time” collecting his wife or children. He said he would also see him at Corinthians Boxing Club off Buckingham Street. 

Dowdall said he left school “fairly young”, did a pre-apprenticeship and became an electrician; “working at that all my life until 2016″. 

In 2007, the witness said he set up ‘Dowdall Electrical’, which traded as ‘ABCO’ and employed up to 20 staff.

He started sponsoring ‘Corinthians’ with tracksuits in 2007 and went on to sponsor three football teams in the north inner city and one on the Navan Road. “We just supplied training kits, tracksuits and stuff like that,” he added.

The witness said he knew Patsy Hutch, Gerard’s older brother, “very well” as his children all worked on his mother’s stall on Henry Street, which sold clothes. He said he was 17 or 18 years old when he first got to know him. 

“I always got on with Patsy, I trained in the club with him, went into his house after. Patsy worked in carpets and would get him to fix carpets and it grew from there,” he said.

Dowdall said as his business developed he gave a lot of apprenticeships to people in the inner city including Patrick Hutch Junior.

He said Patrick worked for his company for two years, that he was “grand” at the start but didn’t really want to “be there” after his first year. Patrick left Ireland to work in a gym/boxing club in Spain.

“I advised him to stay and finish his time, he wanted to work in fitness,” he continued.

The witness said his business, which was based all over Ireland, did a lot of work for security companies and that the huge amount of travelling “around the country” didn’t suit Patrick Hutch Junior. 

Asked if Patsy had driven commercial vehicles, Dowdall said commercial vehicles couldn’t be taxed in 2009 unless one was set up as a sole trader so Patsy asked him to tax his van in “my company name so I did; never an issue, never a parking ticket or speeding”. 

Gillane asked the witness how he would resolve the issue if his company had a cash-flow difficulty. Dowdall said if he was stuck to cover wages for a week, he would borrow €4,000 or €5,000 from Patsy and give it back to him later, which he said happened three or four times.

Asked about Patsy’s son Gary who lived in Spain, Dowdall said he was told the “Kinahans” believed Gary was an informer and that there were certain things “going on over in Spain” and the Kinahans were blaming Gary for it.

Dowdall said he had not spoken to Gary since he was 10 years old.

I didn’t know anything about the Kinahans; the dynamic of who was who. I was told problems with Gary.  

Dowdall told the court that in 2015 he was told that Patrick Hutch Junior was accused of trying to kill Daniel Kinahan in Spain. Dowdall said he was told Patrick did not do it, that he wasn’t involved, but the Kinahans demanded €200,000 from Patsy Hutch’s family. Dowdall later found out that the €200,000 was compensation for a boxer who had been shot during the attempt on Kinahan’s life.

At some point Gary Hutch was “more or less held hostage” and Patrick had to “hand himself up for a punishment shooting”. Dowdall said he believed the shooting happened in Drumcondra. He added:

Patrick went with a family member and was shot and was brought to the Mater hospital. I was told it was Daniel Kinahan himself who shot him.” 

The €200,000 was also paid, Dowdall said, but Patsy Hutch told Dowdall that the Kinahans made more demands for money before Gary Hutch was shot dead in September 2015. He said he was told that Gary was killed by the Kinahans. 

Dowdall said he trusted Patsy and that he had a very good relationship with him. He said Patsy was “distraught” when Gary was shot and that an attempt was made on Patsy’s life outside a school.

“Family members were being approached and I was asked if I could speak to someone to stop the feud. It was getting out of hand. I was asked to step in the middle to stop the feud,” he said.

Feud escalating

In his evidence, the witness said he wanted “to clear up” that he was being asked to speak to “republican people” and there wasn’t “provisional people in any of it; it was dissident people”.

Dowdall said he spoke to someone and it was recommended that “you go to speak to these people”.

He said he wasn’t “gone on the idea” but considering so many people’s innocent lives were at stake he agreed. “Any other family in that position I would have tried to help, I couldn’t go to the gardaí,” he said.

Dowdall said he went to Strabane in Co Tyrone with his father in January 2016 to meet “a guy called Wee and this fella called ‘Kevin Tyrone’”, who didn’t show up to the meeting.

He said ‘Wee’ was the point of contact and that he had also met “another lad” called Shane Rowan whose nickname was ‘Fish’. 

The court has heard that Shane Rowan, last of Forest Park, Killygordan, in County Donegal was stopped in his car outside Slane in Co Meath at 7.05pm on 9 March 2016 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.

In July 2016, Rowan was jailed for seven-and-a-half years for possession of assault rifles and ammunition. He was also sentenced to a concurrent sentence of four years in prison for IRA membership, backdated to 9 March 2016.

Dowdall said he told ‘Wee’ and Rowan the background to the feud, that it wasn’t “really a full on feud at that stage” but that threats were being made on the Hutch family.

“I asked would be able to come to some sort of agreement that the demands and threats would be stopped. Just properly put everything to bed,” he continued. 

Northern Ireland trips

The ex-politician said he was asked to go to Strabane on 4 February 2016 and that himself and his father met ‘Wee’ again at his sister’s house, the same location as the first time. He said ‘Kevin Tyrone’ couldn’t make the meeting again so they headed back to Dublin.

Dowdall said that he and his father Patrick were travelling back to Dublin that evening when Patsy Hutch rang his “Da” on the way home and asked was the hotel room at the Regency booked for the Hutch’s as had been requested the previous night. “Da said he had forgot so Da rang Trish and Trish rang up the hotel. She gave her own name and reserved the room by Visa card and we drove home,” he said.

Dowdall told Gillane that his father had not told him until the next day about Patsy calling to their home on the Navan Road on 3 February.

“Patsy had called to the house and asked me Da to get Trish to book a room in the Regency Hotel for a friend of his, nothing unusual, I had booked rooms for Patsy on visa cards, paid for flights and holidays and there was never any problem,” he said.

Dowdall said he drove his father home to the Navan Road after the phone call from Patsy on 4 February and his ‘Da’ got his passport as he needed identification for booking the room.

The witness said that they drove to the Regency Hotel and his father went inside, gave his name and paid for the room. Dowdall said he remained in his jeep in the car park of the hotel until his father came back and the arrangement was that they would drop the key cards for the room into Patsy’s house on Champions Avenue.

Drop off

“I rang Patsy to say we were on the way to the house with the key and we were told to leave them on Richmond Road. We went to Richmond Road, half way down to the garage, turned around facing the top of the road and Gerard came and me father gave Gerard the cards,” said Dowdall.

The witness said Gerard Hutch had approached his vehicle on the passenger side and that he was on his own. Dowdall said he was not expecting Gerard Hutch, who was wearing a dark-coloured coat, to be there.

He said he did not see what car he was driving and that he would normally ride a bike. “He just said thanks, nothing said at all,” he added. Dowdall said he and his father went home.

Dowdall said he learnt about the Regency shooting from his wife, who heard about it on the radio on 5 February.    

Asked about what happened after the shooting at the Regency Hotel, Dowdall said he was contacted to meet Gerard Hutch in a small park beside a church in Whitehall on the morning of 8 February. The court heard that a picture had appeared in the Sunday World newspaper of two people running out of the hotel.  

He said he parked his Land Cruiser at the park and went through a small gate into what looked like a walking track.

The State’s witness said that Gerard Hutch was on his own in the park and asked him if he had spoken to his brother Patsy.

I said no. He said did I see the paper, the Sunday World. I said I had seen it and I told him who I thought a person looked like and he said the same – the person in drag.

The ex-politician said that Gerard Hutch was in a panic; “he wasn’t any other time I had ever seen him”.

“I believe people had called to his brother Neddy’s house and other contacts made and he asked if I would contact people in the north.

“He said there was going to be a lot of innocent people killed; family and friends. I told him a waste of time,” he continued.

Dowdall added: “He told me that it was them at the hotel. I don’t know who he was referring to but he had said it was him and them at the hotel. He was upset.

“It wasn’t what he said, it was how he was saying it. He said that it was them at the hotel and he’s not happy about shooting the young lad David Byrne and David Byrne being killed. 

Asked by Gillane if Hutch had said who it was that shot Byrne, Dowdall replied: “He said it was him and ‘Mago’ Gately”.

Other trials

In other trials before the Special Criminal Court, gardai have given evidence that ‘Mago’ Gately survived two attempts on his life from criminals who believed him to be involved in the Regency Hotel murder.

“He [Gerard Hutch] was very agitated and wasn’t himself. He seemed genuine. I think he knew the shit was hitting the fan and he was upset I believed over the killing and he was paranoid about people watching him in the park. I was asked to walk and then stop,” said the witness.

He said there was a man walking in the park who looked at Gerard and that Gerard thought he was a cop. 

“He said a lot of innocent people were going to be killed. People were knocking on family members’ doors and they needed to get someone to sort everything out.

“I told him I couldn’t see them getting involved in that and it was a waste of time, that was it, not much more. I just wanted out of the park and had no interest in contacting anyone at that time.

“I was worried over the room being booked. Being told stuff like that is being told where money is missing, if anything gets leaked it’s always going to come back on you,” said Dowdall.

He said Gerard was driving a black hatchback car that day and was wearing a black cap and brown waxy jacket. 

Shooting of Eddie Hutch

“I told him I would try and contact them but I didn’t and after that Patsy came to me and was saying the same stuff…would I contact… and in the meantime ‘Neddy’ was then killed that night. Kay rang me to ask if had heard from Patsy and she told me that ‘Neddy’ was killed,” he said.

Eddie ‘Neddy’ Hutch was shot dead at his north-inner city home on 8 February 2016, in what was believed to be a revenge attack for the Regency Hotel shooting three days earlier.

Dowdall said he was contacted by a man he knew as ‘Wee’ a few days after meeting Gerard Hutch in the park in Whitehall. ‘Wee’ told Dowdall that he had heard the Hutchs were involved in the Regency and they wanted to know how Kevin Murray, also known as ‘Flat Cap’, was involved with the Hutch organisation. 

The prosecution case is that the late dissident republican Kevin Murray was the man seen wearing a flat cap when Byrne was killed and that he cooperated with the “tactical team” that raided the Regency Hotel on 5 February.

Murray died from motor neurone disease in 2017 before he could be brought to trial.

Dowdall told the court that the group he was speaking with was the “New IRA”, saying: “I was being put under pressure. It didn’t look good for me either that I went up to try and stop this and then that [the Regency] happened.”

Dowdall said he told ‘Wee’ that Gerard Hutch was looking to talk to the dissident group but Dowdall thought it was a waste of time. ‘Wee’ agreed, he said.

A few days after that, Dowdall said he was contacted again. He drove north to a pub but he wasn’t sure if it was north or south of the border.

When he arrived Gerard Hutch and another man discussed the feud with the Kinahans and what had happened to “Neddy” Hutch.

Dowdall identified his own car arriving at the meeting in Forest Park in Killygordon in Donegal and he identified Gerard Hutch and ‘Wee’ in the footage.

He said they were taken from there to Strabane and Gerard Hutch stayed and spoke with a man named as “Kevin Tyrone” for about 20 minutes while Dowdall and Wee left to make tea. Dowdall didn’t know Kevin Tyrone by any other name.

Dowdall said there was no guarantee at the end of that meeting that they would help to mediate in the Kinahan Hutch feud. 

The next trip north was on 7 March, Dowdall said. In the days leading up to that he said people were “constantly calling to my house about this situation. Gerard came, Patsy would come. People ringing me from the north about Flat Cap.”  

He said that he had been told by Patsy that the room he and his father had booked in the Regency had “nothing to do with anything”.

One day Patsy came to Dowdall’s home and told him that gardaí had raided his house and taken a logbook relating to a van that was registered in Dowdall’s name. Dowdall said he was told to lie and say the van was in his possession all the time.

He said Patsy also told him that he was afraid to drive the van because “people knew it was his van and he’d be shot in it”. Dowdall said he wouldn’t say that he had been using the van.

He added: “I said no, I didn’t have it. If I had known that that room was involved I would have said; we were never told anyone stayed in that room to do with the Regency.” 

Dowdall said he was told to go north again on 7 March to meet Kevin Tyrone. He was “under severe stress” he said and taking tablets to help him sleep and tablets during the day.

Since the meeting with Gerard Hutch in the park, he said: “My life wasn’t my own. I wasn’t me at that time.” He went to the same place in Strabane this time with Gerard Hutch as his passenger.

After the court broke for lunch this afternoon, Dowdall returned to the stand, telling the trial that when they went north they met ‘Wee’ again and about four other people plus Kevin Tyrone.

The meeting, he said, “was in relation to a meeting being arranged with the Kinahans to stop the feud.” 

He said he now knows that there was an audio surveillance device in his jeep but he didn’t know this at the time.  

Dowdall told Gillane that following his own arrest in relation to Byrne’s murder he spoke to Hutch at Wheatfield Prison.

Hutch, he said, was concerned about a driver who had driven Hutch home following the Regency shooting and who was arrested but not charged in relation to the murder.

Gerard Hutch was also concerned, the witness said, that gardaí might have taken CCTV footage from one of his neighbour’s homes and that he could have been “caught on the neighbour’s CCTV”. 

Gillane was about to play clips from audio recorded by the National Surveillance Unit using a bug that was planted in Dowdall’s car while he was travelling to Strabane with Gerard Hutch in March 2016 when defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, for Hutch, objected. Grehan said he was not on notice of what Dowdall was about to say.

Dowdall was asked to leave the court while the lawyers presented arguments to the court. Dowdall will return tomorrow to continue his evidence.

Witness protection

Earlier before Dowdall came into the courtroom, Gillane asked that a Detective Superintendent from the Witness Protection Programme, who was proposed to give evidence, not be identified and that members of the public be excluded for the testimony. 

Gillane also told the court that the State’s solicitor had received correspondence from Dowdall’s solicitor Ms Jenny McGeever and he had disclosed this to Grehan. He also handed the letter up to the court which he said contained some “difficulties”.

In reply, Grehan said: “It would on its face appear that Dowdall is setting forth a number of preconditions before he gives evidence which is extraordinary in itself. I don’t know if there will be legal representation for Dowdall, I’m not quite sure what the purpose of the letter was in terms of sending to Gillane”. 

Presiding judge Ms Justice Tara Burns said it was not Gillane’s problem and was clearly not the court’s problem. She said that Dowdall was a witness in the trial and proposed that nothing further be done as it was a matter for the governor of the prison. 

In the presence of Dowdall, the Det Supt told Gillane that Dowdall’s assessment for the WPP was “ongoing” and was “completely independent” from the evidence he gave to the court.  

Under cross-examination, the detective agreed with Grehan that Dowdall’s testimony was “not linked or dependent in any way to his performance in the witness box” and that it was a “separate issue”. 

Grehan put it to the witness that he understood that the WPP provides “like for like benefits for the person concerned”. “The witness is currently being assessed and there is no indication of any such like for like until the progress is complete,” she replied.

The barrister also put it to the witness that “the protocol” recommends financial assistance no greater than a person’s legal earnings before they are admitted to the programme. “Yes, that is what is expected in any case,” she said.

The trial continues tomorrow 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 Byrne’s murder alongside 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 3 October, a nolle prosequi – a decision not to proceed – was entered on the murder charge against the former Dublin city councillor.

The status of Dowdall’s Witness Protection Programme (WPP) application still remains unknown. The former electrician is being assessed for the WPP when he gets out of prison and a decision is not expected to be made about Dowdall’s admittance into the programme until the middle of January next year.  

Dowdall has previous convictions for false imprisonment, threatening to kill and causing serious harm from January 2015.


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 4 February 2016. 

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 February 5, 2016.

Alison O'Riordan