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File photo - Gerard Hutch (2008) RTÉ

Hutch trial: Jonathan Dowdall denies he is a 'master manipulator'

Jonathan Dowdall gave evidence at the trial in the Criminal Courts of Justice for a second day.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 13th 2022, 10:10 PM

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 is a “master manipulator” and had told “two big lies” in his direct evidence to the Special Criminal Court.

Under cross-examination today by Hutch’s barrister Brendan Grehan SC, Dowdall, the key witness in the Regency Hotel murder trial who has pleaded guilty to facilitating Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne’s murder, said he deeply regretted that he had tortured and waterboarded a man who came to his home to buy a motorbike in 2015.

Earlier, Dowdall told the non-jury court in his direct evidence that it was neither the Kinahans nor the accused man who “started the shooting” in the Hutch/Kinahan feud.

Amid heightened security arrangements at the Criminal Courts of Justice today on Parkgate Street in Dublin, Dowdall was cross-examined by Grehan in the trial of Hutch (59), last 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.

Dowdall, who was wearing a navy suit and a light shirt, was brought into court this morning by two gardai and three prison officers through what would ordinarily be the jury entrance rather than the cells or public entrance.

Grehan, representing Hutch, opened his cross-examination 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 hotel keys card from him and his father on Richmond Road on February 4 2016 and that Gerard Hutch had “confessed” to his direct involvement in the murder in a park several days later.

Yesterday, Dowdall testified that Gerard Hutch said that he and another man had shot Byrne at the Regency Hotel. He also told prosecution counsel Sean Gillane SC that the accused 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”.

Hutch/Kinahan feud 

Grehan said it had struck him when listening to Dowdall giving evidence yesterday that he saw himself as “good Samaritan” who Patsy Hutch, the accused’s older brother, came to with a problem and Dowdall had obliged to help.

He asked the witness if he was a “good Samaritan” who got involved in the mediation efforts to help someone out. Dowdall said people had told him Patrick Hutch Junior and Gary Hutch were innocent and that “an innocent family member” could be murdered.

“So on the basis they were an innocent family?” Grehan said.

“That’s correct,” Dowdall replied.

Grehan added: “And the solution was that you would get the IRA involved?”

Dowdall responded: “To mediate and to stop any further threats and attempts on the family.”

Dowdall agreed that he didn’t know Gerard Hutch “that well” but would see him from time to time at the boxing club. He was “good friends” with Patsy Hutch who he described as being “like an uncle”.

Grehan put it to Dowdall that the “real reason” the feud started was that Daniel Kinahan was supposed to give a punishment shooting to Patrick Hutch for his alleged role in trying to shoot Kinahan but instead of inflicting a flesh wound, he shot him in the bone.

Dowdall disagreed, saying that he found out while in Wheatfield Prison that Gary and Patrick had tried to take €4.5 million from Daniel Kinahan’s house.

“Patrick hid in the bush to shoot Daniel and he shot that boxer by mistake,” he said, referring to boxer Jamie Moore who was injured in the alleged attack on Daniel Kinahan.

He added that Patrick was shot by Kinahan “because he was blamed for what happened to that boxer”.

Dowdall agreed that he knew all this through Patsy Hutch and about a fine being paid to the Kinahans.

He also agreed that he hid Patrick Hutch Junior in his house after Gary Hutch was shot.

He said: “I was told Patrick’s life was in serious danger. Patsy asked me if Patrick could stay with me for a few days and I agreed because his life was in danger.”

Grehan said: “You were involved from way back in this.”

Dowdall said he “wasn’t told the truth from way back about what happened. Originally Patrick and Patsy lied to me when they said they were wrongfully accused of that attempt on Daniel.”

Grehan again put it to him that the real reason the feud had started was because Patrick was “only supposed to get a flesh wound from Daniel Kinahan but got shot in the bone.”

Dowdall replied: “The real reason was that Gary and Patrick had decided to try and take this money and kill Daniel Kinahan and they attempted to shoot Daniel Kinahan and they shot that boxer.

“I didn’t find out they actually did that until much afterwards, I was told that they were accused of doing that but they didn’t do it.”

Grehan asked if Dowdall was saying that the Kinahans were the “wronged party”.

Dowdall replied: “I said that’s the reason the feud started. There’s this thing in the media that the Hutchs were innocently accused of things and that’s why this whole thing started but the truth is that Patrick and Gary did what they were accused of doing.

“I’m not trying to correct anything, I’m telling the truth of what happened.”

‘Disorganised crime’

Dowdall denied that he has a “fairly mixed relationship with the truth”.

Grehan put it to him that he had lied to “the people of Ireland” when he went on the Joe Duffy radio show in March 2016 and denied any involvement in criminality.

At that time, Grehan said, Dowdall had already tortured a man by waterboarding him and would later be sentenced to 12 years in prison for that crime.

Dowdall said that when he went on Joe Duffy he was taking tablets and his “life was upside down” with the media contacting him and gardai searching his home. “I wasn’t involved in organised crime, I was never involved in organised crime,” he said.

Asked if he was involved in disorganised crime, Dowdall said he had put his bike up for sale on Done Deal and a man claiming to be a barrister tried to defraud him by stealing his identity and had “brought a lot of that on himself”.

He added: “He didn’t deserve what I done, I deeply regret what I done… I’m sorry for what I did and I spent my time in prison for what I did and I pleaded guilty for what I did.”

Grehan again put it to him that he lied on the Joe Duffy show after his house was searched by gardai and he claimed had no links to criminality “in any way shape or form”.

Dowdall replied: “I wasn’t involved in organised crime.” He added: “I had committed a criminal act at that time.”

He said that when he was talking to Joe Duffy he wasn’t involved in crime and was not involved in the Regency hotel murder.

“That’s what I was talking about,” he said. 

He said he wasn’t thinking about the waterboarding when speaking to Joe Duffy and added: “I wasn’t thinking on that day. If I was thinking in my proper rational mind I wouldn’t have gone on Joe Duffy.

“There was an awful lot happening in my life at that time. I wasn’t myself when I went on to Joe Duffy.”

In June 2017, Dowdall was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and his father Patrick Dowdall eight years imprisonment after pleading guilty to falsely imprisoning Alexander Hurley and threatening to kill him at Jonathan’s family home on January 15, 2015.

Dowdall was later re-sentenced to 7 years and 11 months and Patrick Dowdall to four years imprisonment after successful appeals. 

Dowdall denied to Grehan that he was involved in moving AK-47s that were allegedly used in the Regency attack to Republicans in Northern Ireland.
“They weren’t my AK-47s,” he said. He said Gerard Hutch told “them he would give to them” but Dowdall said he wasn’t in the room when the arrangements were made to move the AK-47s.
“I couldn’t control whether they were given or weren’t given, they weren’t under my control. They weren’t mine.”

He denied that he had contacted people in Northern Ireland about the guns, saying his contacts with dissidents were related to putting an end to the feud.

“I was stuck in the middle, I was told stuff I shouldn’t have been told. I had no choice but to go back and forth to those meetings”.
‘A little nixer’
He said that when he spoke to Gerard Hutch about bomb making in the audio recording from their trip to the north on March 7 2016 that he was engaging in bravado.
Dowdall said he had “no clue” how to make a bomb and said he was under surveillance from February 12, 2016 so if he had attempted “to do anything like that the police would have found them”.”
He said the bombs “didn’t exist” and that what he had said about bombs “was lies”.

The former Dublin City Council member said he had been approached about making a bomb because he is an electrician.

He added: “I went along with it, to bide time, but it didn’t happen.”
He said he could be heard in the covert audio recordings telling Gerard Hutch that he would not give them a bomb and that he “couldn’t have the consequences” on his conscience.
He added that there were “loads of references to bomb-making” in the recordings but “it didn’t happen and it was never going to happen”.

At one point Dowdall agreed he could be heard explaining how a detonator works but he said, “I don’t know if that’s correct, I seen it on the telly.”

He said he was ashamed of saying in the audio recording how a bomb could be placed under a man’s bungalow in Courtown in Wexford and added: “it was nonsense and it never happened. I did say it but I’m ashamed of saying it, I didn’t know the person”.

Grehan asked Dowdall if he remembered being shown a photograph of himself arriving at one of the meetings with republicans in Donegal on February 20 2016 carrying a bag.

Dowdall said the bag contained tools.
Grehan asked: “Were you fixing a plug or something?”

“I was actually,” Dowdall replied.

“Are you serious?” the barrister asked.

“I am deadly serious,” Dowdall replied.

Grehan said that the suggestion about the plug was “ridiculous” but Dowdall had “seized onto it”.

Dowdall said the television was “tripping out” and there was an earth fault with the socket that he fixed. He believed it was Shane Rowan’s house but couldn’t remember when he was “asked to do that little nixer”.

An NSU member has given evidence that he was on duty in the Killygordon area of Donegal on February 20, 2016 – two weeks after the murder at the Regency Hotel – when he observed Shane Rowan exiting a house at Forest Park.

The member said he observed Dowdall and Gerard Hutch leave the house at Forest Park and Dowdall was holding a small black holdall bag with an orange trim which he placed in the boot of his car.

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 March 9, 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 March 9 2016.

Grehan put it to Dowdall that he did not fix a faulty socket but “went in there to show them “something” and added that he would be of interest to “dissident IRA people” because he has electrical skills and can build a timer.

“I don’t know how to build a timer,” he said.

Dowdall said he was bluffing when talking about building a timer with Gerard Hutch on the audio recording and added: “I was asked to do it because I’m an electrician. I said I would try. There were phone calls being made, I kept making excuses and that’s where it ended.”

He said it didn’t come up “about the timer” when he went north on February 20 and he pointed out that in the audio he could be heard saying that he “didn’t give them anything”.

‘Master manipulator’
“Where did you learn to waterboard someone,” Grehan asked. “On the tv,” Dowdall replied.
He repeated that he was sorry for what he did, that he had spent six years in prison for it and said he had “destroyed my family’s life”.

When there was a dispute over who recorded Dowdall’s waterboarding of a man in his home, Dowdall agreed that at a “Newton hearing” [a separate hearing to resolve a conflict on the facts in a case] in the Special Criminal Court he had lied, saying that he didn’t know who recorded the waterboarding.

“You are prepared to lie for good reason, as you might see it, is that fair?” Grehan asked.

Dowdall said he wasn’t involved in the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel and that if he had been involved in the Regency attack he wouldn’t disclose who was involved. “It was made to look like I was involved in certain things,” he said.

He added: “If I was involved in the murder of David Byrne or the Regency I wouldn’t be sitting here. I wasn’t involved.”

He said he wasn’t afraid that he wasn’t going to get out of prison when he was charged with the murder of Byrne five years into his sentence for false imprisonment, threatening to kill and causing serious harm as he “didn’t do anything”.
I knew I couldn’t defend myself if I went to court, I couldn’t explain the circumstances to the room, I couldn’t put up any defence up whatsoever,” he said.
He said he knew there was a chance he would be found guilty of murder, that there were questions that needed to be answered and things explained.
“I couldn’t explain that in this court,” he said. “I couldn’t put a defence up sitting in the dock and that’s the truth.”

At one point counsel suggested to Dowdall that he was a “master manipulator” and that he had managed to get himself bail in circumstances where in any other case there would have been objections from gardai. Dowdall said he disagreed.

‘Patsy, Patsy, Patsy’Asked why the Northern Command of the IRA had become involved after the Regency attack, Dowdall said he was told they would broker some type of agreement between the two groups.”Since when did the IRA get into the mediation business?” asked Grehan.”I was asked by Patsy, their lives were under threat and it was a thing I tried to do to stop people being killed and other innocent family members,” he replied.However, he said he wasn’t told that the Regency Hotel attack was being planned when he was in the north on February 4, 2016 asking others to mediate.  

During one stage of his cross-examination, Grehan suggested to Dowdall that he had “switched” his client’s name for Patsy Hutch’s name for “the meet up at Richmond Road” as it was clear that Gerard Huch had nothing to do with the booking of the room at the hotel and it had been all “Patsy, Patsy, Patsy”.

Grehan said it had become in Dowdall’s interest to incriminate Gerard Hutch, to which the witness replied: “That’s nonsense because I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t incriminate anybody, I’m telling the truth”.

“It’s the easiest thing in the world to change Patsy Hutch to Gerard Hutch isn’t it in a story where you are saying about the handing over of the key cards?” asked Grehan.

Dowdall replied:”It’s not the easiest, it was Gerard Hutch that showed, if it was Patsy I would have said Patsy Hutch showed up”.

Hutch put it to the witness that he knew full well there was no evidence to support his allegation. Dowdall said his father, who was in the car at the time, was fully prepared to make a statement and give evidence in this trial.
The lawyer asked Dowdall why his father was not “jumping up and down to come in and make a statement”. “Who would be jumping up and down to come in and go through this,” he said.

Grehan also suggested to the witness that there had been “zero conversation” from Hutch at Richmond Road but yet the next time he sees his client in the park he can’t stop talking and “blurted it all out in a five minute conversation”. “That is right but not that he can’t stop talking,” he replied.

Dowdall later said that Gerard Hutch “never directly repeated” the words that he was the one that shot Byrne “other than in the park”.

“I’m suggesting you are lying,” said counsel. Dowdall replied: “With respect you would say that”.

Grehan said Dowdall had manipulated every situation to his own advantage, which the witness denied. He will continue his cross-examination tomorrow.

Direct evidence Earlier today in his direct evidence, Dowdall told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, that he agreed to help by approaching republicans in Northern Ireland to mediate in the dispute.At the time, he said he thought that the Kinahans “wrongfully believed” that Gary Hutch [Gerard Hutch's nephew through his older brother Patsy] was involved in trying to kill Daniel Kinahan and that the Kinahans were also blaming Patrick Hutch, who is Gary’s younger brother.Dowdall said he believed “innocent people were trying to be killed” and wouldn’t have gotten involved if he had known the truth. He added: “Gerard didn’t start it. It was Patsy’s sons that started the shooting. It wasn’t even the Kinahans.”

Dowdall also told the court that Gerard Hutch lied to him during a conversation that was secretly recorded by members of the National Surveillance Unit on March 7, 2016, about one month after the Regency shooting.

Gillane played clips from the ten hours of an audio recording of conversations between Gerard Hutch and Dowdall while they were travelling north to a meeting in Strabane in Co Tyrone on March 7, 2016 in Dowdall’s Toyota Land Cruiser jeep, that had been bugged by garda detectives.

Gillane asked the witness to explain parts of what was said in the recorded conversations.

Dowdall said that in one extract he was speaking to Gerard Hutch about things that were written in the newspapers about the Byrne murder and that Hutch told him that the six people involved in the shooting didn’t know one another.

He added: “He’s lying to me saying they don’t know each other. I believed they didn’t know each other until people were charged and I seen the book of evidence. They are all family members and they are all his friends.

“I know connections to most of them. It is clear, he is telling me they don’t know each other but they all know each other.”

In the recorded conversation, Dowdall is heard saying that the newspapers don’t have a “fuckin clue about the Regency”.

Dowdall says: “I don’t think the police know what is being portrayed in the paper but they’re saying we know who the six people are”

Gerard Hutch then says “they don’t know” and that “sure the fuckin six people don’t even know” and that “no one fuckin knows”.

Gerard Hutch said that “the people that were there themselves don’t fuckin know” and that it was “all speculation” looking at “the snaps” apart from “the man and woman”.

He added: “The cops are going around like headless chickens” and that “loads of fuck ups have after been made”.

Facing the three accused men, who are sitting together in the dock of the non-jury court, Dowdall listened to various clips from the covert recordings of the conversation between himself and Hutch. Asked by Gillane what is meant by his reference to “the three yokes”, Dowdall said “that was the three guns, the three AK-47s”.

He said Hutch had told him earlier that day that he had given the guns to the Republicans they had met with in Northern Ireland that day.

In the audio recording, accused man Gerard Hutch was heard telling Dowdall that “these three yokes we’re throwin them up to them either way”, in what the prosecution has said is a reference to giving the three assault rifles used in the Regency Hotel attack to republicans in the north.

Gerard Hutch could also be heard saying in the audio: “There’s a present them three yokes” and that he wanted “to throw them up there to them as a present”. The accused also said he had to “push him” to get “them outta the village”.

Gillane put it to Dowdall today that he made reference in the audio recording to the “village” and asked him what he meant by this.

Dowdall replied: “Patsy had come up to me a number of times and the thing about the CCTV was in other parts of the transcripts, repeating what Patsy told me about the CCTV. This is what Patsy told me”.

The witness continued: “I was told the van that was used was parked at Buckingham Village and he [Patsy] got rid of the CCTV because of that reason. Some woman was supposed to have got rid of the CCTV, don’t know who she is, he [Patsy] told me at the time he got rid of the CCTV cause he drove the van”.

Dowdall confirmed to counsel that the word “village’ in the audio meant Buckingham Village.

The trial has heard it was outlined in a warrant that gardai believed a Ford Transit van was used to transport the Regency assailants to and from the hotel, that this van was stored at a car park at Buckingham Village in Dublin’s north inner city prior to the murder and that the keys for the Ford Transit van were left with a woman for collection.

The trial has also heard that gardai who obtained a search warrant for the home of Patrick Hutch Senior at Champions Avenue in Dublin 1 observed a key for a Ford vehicle on a key rack in the hallway of the house but did not recover it.

Sadie Byrne and James ‘Jaws’ Byrne were in court to hear the man who facilitated the murder of their son David testify for the State.

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 October 3, 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 February 4, 2016.

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

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 and Eoin Reynolds