Regency trial | 

Jonathan Dowdall denies he suggested getting IRA to carry out ‘hits’ during bugged conversation

Dowdall continued to say that remarks he made about bomb-making and people being “whacked” were nonsense and “s*** talk”

hh© PA

Andrew PhelanSunday World

Former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall has denied that he suggested getting the IRA to carry out “hits” during “sinister banter” he had in a bugged conversation with murder accused Gerard Hutch.

Dowdall continued to tell the Special Criminal Court that remarks he made on the surveillance tapes about bomb-making and people being “whacked” and “plugged” were nonsense and “s*** talk” about things that were never going to happen.

At the end of his seventh day of evidence at the Regency murder trial, Dowdall asked Ms Justice Tara Burns: “Have you any idea how many days I’ll be here?”

She told him the three-judge court had no control over the length of cross-examination by Mr Hutch’s defence.

Mr Hutch is on trial for the gangland murder of David Byrne, who was killed when five raiders, three disguised as ERU gardaí with assault rifles, along with an armed man in a flat cap and another gunman dressed as a woman, stormed the Regency Hotel in Dublin.

The attack at a boxing weigh-in on February 5, 2016, fuelled the Kinahan-Hutch gang feud.

Mr Hutch (59), of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty.

Dowdall had also been charged with Mr Byrne’s murder but before the trial started he instead pleaded guilty to facilitating the killing, by helping to book a room in the Regency for use by the attackers.

His murder charge was withdrawn by the prosecution and he turned State’s witness.

A sketch of Gerry Hutch© PA

Dowdall (44) alleges that Mr Hutch met him in a park on February 8, 2016, and confessed that he and another man, "Mago" Gately, shot Mr Byrne.

The pair were under audio surveillance by gardaí when they drove to Northern Ireland on March 7, 2016, to try to get republicans to mediate in the escalating feud.

Today, defence barrister Brendan Grehan SC put it to Dowdall that in discussions on the tape about the Regency attack team, Mr Hutch is referring “the whole time in the third person,” saying “they did this” or that.

Dowdall told Mr Grehan he says to the accused on the tape that was some statement “yous made”, meaning the Hutches. He told Mr Grehan: “He is one of them.”

Mr Grehan said it was extraordinary that Mr Hutch does not lapse into using “we” at any stage.

Dowdall said a clip where he describes the scene outside the Regency on the day of the shooting was about a video that had been posted on YouTube.

In a reference to the raiders waiting in the van for a gate at the hotel to open, Mr Hutch is heard saying: “These c***s were f**king as cool, sitting there waiting for the f***ng gate to open.”

“Mr Hutch is again referring in the third person to the people in the van,” Mr Grehan said.

“He doesn’t at any stage say ‘we were f***ing as cool’.”

When “Mago” Gately comes up in conversation, “Mr Hutch says nothing about Mago and you say nothing about Mago to Mr Hutch,” Mr Grehan said.

Dowdall told the court he had been asked by republicans to make “circuits” for bombs but insisted he never actually did this and was never going to because he could not “live with it” if innocent people or children were harmed.

He said he was going along with it and trying to buy time but was coming under pressure. Mr Grehan said Dowdall is heard discussing a bomb going off at a house in Finglas.

“It was nonsense, it was never going to happen,” Dowdall said.

Mr Grehan questioned him about his remarks about people being “whacked” and asked if Dowdall was referring to the IRA doing this.

Dowdall again said it was nonsense and he did not even know the people he was meeting.

On another clip, Dowdall tells Mr Hutch: “I know you have more balls than any c*** that I know, like, doing that and all.”

Dowdall claimed this was a reference to the Regency, but Mr Grehan said he had just “seized on” this in an “opportunistic lie”.

He said Dowdall is suggesting on the tape getting the IRA to kill a few of these people who would not be close to the Kinahans.

Dowdall said “that is the way it looks”, but later insisted what he tells Mr Hutch is “all pie in the sky”.

When he is heard speaking about getting “uniforms” on the tape, he said this was a reference to “army uniforms that I got for paintball”.

He denied that after a meeting he appeared to be “calling the shots” or “giving orders” to a man called “Wee”, a republican contact.

During a discussion, he asks “what do you think about getting Wee to do your man?”

Dowdall told the court he did not know what this was in relation to.

“It’s clear that it’s in relation to having somebody whacked,” Mr Grehan said.

Dowdall said it was “nonsense” and that Wee had said he was going to be somewhere else on Saturday. Dowdall himself was also going away to Dubai and intended staying there, he said.

Mr Grehan asked if the comment was not about Wee carrying out a hit in Dublin.

“I don’t know what it’s about,” Dowdall said.

The court heard there was an alleged discussion of the assassination of six “hitmen” - two people who attempted to kill Mr Hutch and the four who killed his brother Eddie.

Dowdall is heard telling Mr Hutch “they have to be got and that’s it”.

Mr Grehan asked Dowdall if this refreshed his memory on “what Wee was coming down to do”.

Dowdall said the six people were nothing to do with Wee.

“It’s s*** talk,” Dowdall said. “It’s terrible, but it never happened, I don’t even know their names.”

“You don’t need to know someone’s name to have them killed,” Mr Grehan said.

“I couldn’t arrange to have anybody killed,” Dowdall said.

Mr Grehan asked if this was because he was just “all talk”.

“I couldn’t and I wouldn’t,” Dowdall replied.

He said of the republicans, “all they were ever going to do was stand in the middle” of the feud.

Dowdall said he had been worried that he himself was going to be shot dead because they wrongly believed he had got Kevin “Flat Cap” Murray involved in the Regency attack.

Two other men are also on trial with Mr Hutch. Jason Bonney (51) and Paul Murphy (61) deny providing cars for the attack team. Mr Dowdall’s evidence does not relate to them.

The non-jury trial continues.

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