NewsCrime Desk

The Monk "recorded telling ex Councillor about planning Regency attack"

Gerry Hutch and Jonathan Dowdall
Gerry Hutch and Jonathan Dowdall

A heart-to-heart conversation that Gerry Hutch had with former Sinn Fein Councillor Jonathan Dowdall sealed ‘the Monk’s’ fate as a fugitive from Ireland for the rest of his days.

The chat about the Regency Hotel shooting was recorded by bugs that had been secretly placed in Dowdall’s car by gardaí using gangland legislation.

It is understood that Hutch let slip his own role in planning the spectacular attack and will be arrested on sight and put on trial if he ever comes back to Ireland.

Gunmen at the Regency Hotel

Since the fateful decision to attack the Kinahan Cartel at a boxing weigh-in February 2016, Hutch remains the most-wanted on a chilling kill list that has already seen 12 murders.

However, he is now also the number one target of gardaí investigating the Regency attack.

Hutch was in semi-retirement when he planned the Regency hit, gambling that his attack would send a message that he was still a powerful force who had the backing of the IRA.

Instead, the plan backfired spectacularly and he now finds himself in a position where he will never be able to return home again.

Dowdall (38), acted as a driver to Hutch in March 2016, weeks before the AK47s used in the Regency attack were seized.


Gardai at Jonathan Dowdall's home

It is understood he drove Hutch to Newry, where the mobster held a meeting with representatives of the New IRA in a bid to organise the transportation of magazines and rifles out of the Republic and back to the North.

At the time, the Monk was deeply traumatised by the murder of his brother Eddie Hutch and was under pressure to get the weapons, which were red hot, back to the paramilitaries.

Unbeknownst to Hutch, members of the Special Detective Unit, experts at breaking up paramilitary terror cells, were secretly trailing and recording him.

Dowdall's performance motorcycle and specced up BMW

During the drive, it is understood the veteran criminal let his guard down and openly conversed about the planning and execution of the Regency attack, which had left Kinahan lieutenant David Byrne dead.

Dowdall, a family friend, had no idea that the pair were being recorded.

While Dowdall had no role in the Regency planning or assault, he had offered Hutch a lift in the wake of the hotel shooting.

Weeks after he had driven his friend across the border and back to Dublin, a major surveillance operation was launched on Donegal paramilitary Shane Rowan.

The IRA man had arranged to pick up the weapons in Dublin. On the same day that Liam Byrne’s home was raided by CAB officers, Rowan arrived at Coolock and collected the weapons.

When he was later stopped by members of the Emergency Response Unit in Slane, Co. Meath, they found three AK47s in the car.

The army were later brought into a warehouse in Coolock where they conducted further searches.

The following day Dowdall’s home was raided by gardaí. During the search of his home, the Garda Sub Aqua Unit were brought in to search a pond at the back of his house.

Rowan was later charged and convicted in front of the Special Criminal Court with possession of the assault rifles and with membership of an illegal organisation.

During their search at Dowdall’s home, gardaí had found an incriminating video on his phone on which himself and his father Patrick (59), had been filmed imprisoning and threatening to kill another man.

This week the father and son pleaded guilty at the Special Criminal Court to falsely imprisoning Alexander Hurley by detaining him without his consent at Navan Road on January 15, 2015.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy presided at the three-judge, non-jury court remanded the men in custody until April 28, when they will be sentenced.

Michael O’Higgins, for Jonathan Dowdall, said that a psychological report would be prepared on behalf of his client.

Dowdall had been arrested as he tried to leave Ireland for a holiday in Dubai last May – four days after he was officially warned by gardaí that there was a threat against his life from the Kinahan faction.

During the raid a BMW car worth €85,000, a high-powered motorbike and other valuables were removed.

Dowdall, an electrical contractor with no previous convictions, had spoken on Joe Duffy’s Liveline radio show in the aftermath of the search operation at his home. While he claimed to know Gerry Hutch, he said he did not know the veteran criminal well.

“When you grow up in an area you know these people. I personally wouldn’t know Gerard very well. He’s a very quiet man. He’s not this cold, hard man he’s being portrayed as. He would give you the shirt off his back,” he said.

“He has a boxing club which I have sponsored since 2007. It’s there as a youth club for all the kids.”

Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Adams and Jonathan Dowdall

Dowdall quit Sinn Fein in 2015 and later claimed he was bullied by other members of the party.

Dowdall had worked closely with Mary Lou McDonald prior to resigning his seat and made the bullying allegations during an interview.

She denied the allegations saying she had a “very good relationship” with the former north inner city councillor.