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Judge refuses to grant bail with electronic tag to ex-Sinn Fein councillor

Jonathan Dowdall
Jonathan Dowdall

A judge has decided against electronically tagging and thereby refused bail to a former Sinn Fein Councillor and his father, accused of falsely imprisoning, assaulting and threatening to kill another man.

Jonathan Dowdall (38) and Patrick Dowdall (59), both of the Navan Road in Dublin, were before the Central Criminal Court today to hear if their bail applications made before Christmas were successful.

Each is charged with falsely imprisoning Alexander Hurley by detaining him without his consent at Navan Road on January 15th 2015.

Both men also face charges of threatening to kill Mr Hurley and of assaulting the man, causing him harm, on the same occasion. 

Additionally, they are charged with possessing a firearm or imitation firearm, which appeared to be a sawn-off shotgun, and a handgun, with the intent to falsely imprison Mr Hurley at the time.

They’re due to go on trial in May, and gardai have objected to them receiving bail in the meantime.

Before Christmas, Chief Superintendent Finbar O'Brien said that electronic tagging would allay his concerns if the two were granted bail.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey then adjourned the bail hearing until the new year to see if tagging could be organised.

The chief superintendent testified yesterday that electronic tagging was being provided by a security company on contract.

He had ascertained that it had been used by the Irish Prison Service on a small number of occasions for individuals on temporary release. However, it had not been used for those on bail and he said his objection to bail remained.

Justice Coffey said he had looked at the relevant legislation.

“It seems to me it doesn’t yet allow for persons seeking bail,” he said, adding that such a use of tagging was part of the current programme for Government.

Michael O’Higgins SC, representing Jonathan Dowdall, said that it didn’t need to be legislated for.

“There can be any number of conditions attached to bail,” he said. “There could be nothing unlawful about the court making such an order.”

He said he was unaware of any case where a proposal was made and rejected.

He also said his client’s family was prepared to increase the surety from €10,000 to €20,000.

Michael Bowman SC adopted Mr O’Higgins’ arguments on behalf of Patrick Dowdall, who he said was advancing in years and had deteriorating health.

However, the judge said that tagging had not been introduced for those seeking bail and he refused their applications.