Video: Man tortured by ex Sinn Fein councillor reveals horror ordeal

Alex Hurley
Alex Hurley

The accountant tortured and waterboarded by former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall and his dad today reveals the full details of his hellish, three-hour-ordeal at their hands.

Among the revelations in this, his only interview, Westmeath man Alex Hurley (30), today tells how he is still haunted by nightmares where he relives the men’s threats to remove his fingers with a pliers “at the knuckle” if he didn’t confess to being a conman.

  • He now plans to sue the disgraced businessman saying: “My life ended that night… I have only been existing ever since.”
  • He could hear Dowdall’s children playing tag outside the garage while their father and grandfather tortured and waterboarded him;
  • During the torture session, Dowdall boasted of having a “team of 30 dissidents” working for him in Tyrone; and
  • He is still haunted by nightmares where he relives the men’s threats to remove his fingers with a pliers “at the knuckle” if he didn’t confess to being a conman.

Dowdall and his father Patrick are currently in custody awaiting sentence after they last week admitted to falsely imprisoning and threatening to kill Alex in the garage of Dowdall’s home on the Navan Road in Dublin on January 15, 2015.

Gardaí were searching Jonathan’s home as part of a separate investigation into the Regency Hotel shooting when they found a USB flash drive on March 9, 2016.

When officers examined the flash drive they discovered that it contained footage of the horrific torture and waterboarding of Alex in Dowdall’s garage, the court heard.

Today, Alex recalls how he came in contact with Dowdall through the Done Deal website, after the former Sinn Fein councillor advertised a €16,000 BMW motorcycle on the site.

After initially viewing the bike at the house on January 12, 2015, he was given a bank account to transfer the money to.

Alex then received a phone call from Jonathan Dowdall inviting him to dinner.

On arriving at Dowdall’s house Alex says: “He [Patrick Dowdall] was waiting inside the door and Jonathan was coming in behind me.

“From there I was backed into the garage and into a chair. Then his father produced a packet of cable- ties and tied me to a chair with the cable-ties.

“I thought I needed to attract attention and the best way to do that was to scream or make lots of noise.

“I started shouting ‘help’, but I was told to shut up. While that was happening, Patrick Dowdall was tying me down.

“He said, ‘you will never try to rob my son or con him’.”

Jonathan Dowdall 

Unknown to Alex, Jonathan had Googled him and come across a LinkedIn page where Alex had been accused of fraud relating to the previous purchase of a car in Northern Ireland.

But Alex insists the post was bogus, saying he has never been convicted of the offence of fraud.

He does, however, freely admit having been convicted of 10 counts of theft, arising from an incident involving a former employer in Galway eight years ago when he was just 22 years old.

“Jonathan disappeared and for a few minutes I was just left in the dark in the garage,” Alex continues.

“I couldn’t see anything because they knocked me over on the chair on to the ground and I was facing the garage door. “I had no intent to defraud him so I had no idea why they were doing this.”

As Alex lay stunned on the concrete floor of the garage trying to figure out what was happening, his abductors returned.

“Patrick turned on the light and then Jonathan came in with a balaclava on, but he was still in work clothes.

Alex Hurley

“He started shouting at me: ‘Why did you want my bank details?’ And then his father appeared at the door with a set of pliers. “He said: ‘Tell the truth, tell the truth because you are going nowhere.’

“At that stage I thought, that’s it… I’m dead. “Then I was told I would be chopped up and part of me would be fed to the dogs.

“They said if I didn’t tell the truth about why I wanted the bank details... half of me would be fed to the dogs and the other half would be wrapped in cellophane bags and brought to Tyrone.

“Throughout it all Jonathan was saying: ‘You don’t know who I am, do you?’

“I said you’re a councillor and he said: ‘I’m the head of the IRA.’ He said he’d another 30 guys in Tyrone ready to finish me off. He said they were all in the IRA and knew every corner of the country and could have anyone picked up in half an hour.

“Then Patrick showed me the pliers again and said: ‘I’m going to start with your small finger and I’m going to work my way knuckle by knuckle.’

“For every lie you tell I’ll chop off a part of your finger. I was just petrified. I knew I was going to die at this stage.”

 Shaking with terror, the worst for Alex was yet to come.

“The waterboarding started after he produced three machetes which I was told were going to be used to chop me up,” he says.

“The first bucket of water was brought in. He put the towel over my head and poured the bucket over me. There was a drowning sensation. It felt like an hour, but it only lasted until the full bucket was empty.”

At this point, Jonathan finally made it clear why he had imprisoned him.

“He brought up my past,” Alex continues, referring to the conviction he received for theft eight years ago.

“Then he [Jonathan Dowdall] moved on to a second bit about a car dealership in Belfast.

“Basically, I had bought a Toyota Avensis estate from the garage and due to the fact the car was unfit for purpose and the dealer had been paid via bank draft, I had the draft recalled, but the car was returned. “

But in October 2014 someone put a page on the website LinkedIn saying: ‘My name is Alexander Hurley, I am a conman who goes round trying to rob people.’

“Dowdall decided to use this against me in the interrogation.

“He accused me of being a conman, told me I’m nothing and told me I was a dumb f**k to mess with the IRA.

“He said: ‘We know every corner of this country and we can have you picked up within hours and you’ll never be seen again.’

“Then he asked me if I was going to go to the Gardaí. He insisted that I would and the second bucket of water started. That lasted another five minutes until the bucket was empty and from there the father came back in again and I was given one last chance to basically tell them the truth they wanted to hear.


“The exact words were: ‘Tell Jonathan what he wants to hear or you’re dead. One more twist and you’re dead.’ The twist being a twist of my neck.

“I thought it would end with me getting that last twist. That they were going to break my neck and kill me and then slit my throat with the machetes.

“Then basically, I don’t know what came over the father, but he asked me: ‘Will we give you another chance?

“This was after I gave them the answers they wanted… after I said I was a conman. “Would I get the fuck out of Dublin? I said: ‘Yes.’

“Would I go to the Gardai? I said: ‘No.’ “While I was answering these questions Jonathan started shaving my head.

 “He said: ‘We have to make you look like a proper conman for the video.’

“And then he decided to let me go… on the basis of my assertions that I wouldn’t go to the Gardaí… Patrick persuaded Jonathan.

“The whole ordeal lasted three hours and during it the garage door was left open and there were two young children running up and down the hall playing tag.

“I could hear the children screaming and laughing and playing tag while their father and grandfather were in there torturing me… and that is grotesque.

“From there I was put into the boot of the car and brought to some dark area of the city. “The words that were said to me were: ‘Get the fuck out of Dublin.’

“I didn’t go to the guards because my parents were threatened and after he had stated that he was the head of the IRA I didn’t want to put my parents at risk.

 “Because of that I didn’t go to the Gardaí… and that’s when my life ended.

“My life ended that night I think … life becomes an existence, you just exist.

“I will be suing Jonathan Dowdall. I will be pursuing him for the damage done to me since. “I need to rebuild my life. The nightmares have never went away.”