'complicit in crime' | 

Jonathan Dowdall has sentence appeal delayed until after Gerry Hutch verdict

Dowdall’s legal team applied to have the appeal against his sentence adjourned to await the outcome of the trial of Gerry Hutch.

Gerard Hutch and Jonathan Dowdall

Paul NeilanSunday World

Ex-Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall, who took to the stand for eight days as State's evidence in the trial of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, has had his appeal against his jail term for facilitating the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne put back until after judgement in Mr Hutch's trial.

In December of last year, Dowdall launched his appeal against his four-year jail-term for facilitating the Hutch gang in the notorious murder of Byrne and had a hearing date for the appeal fixed for February 20.

Dowdall pleaded guilty at the Special Criminal Court to making a room available to the Hutch gang at the Regency Hotel, Swords Road, north Dublin, where the murder of Byrne (34) occurred in February 2016.

He had been originally charged with the murder of Byrne but the State dropped that charge after Dowdall admitted to the lesser facilitation role.

Last October, Dowdall (44) of Navan Road, Cabra, Dublin 7, was sentenced before the three-judge court to four years' imprisonment after he pleaded guilty on September 9 last to the facilitation offence.

At the brief hearing at the Court of Appeal this morning, Gemma McLoughlin-Burke BL, for Dowdall, who did not attend, applied to have the appeal against his sentence adjourned to await the outcome of the trial of Mr Hutch.

The court of Appeal then sent the matter to the next list to fix dates on March 27.

Dowdall was being assessed for the Witness Protection Programme when he gave evidence for the State against his former friend and one-time co-accused, Mr Hutch, who denies the murder of Mr Byrne.

The State concluded its case against Mr Hutch on January 24 after 13 weeks of evidence.

When sentencing Dowdall at the Special Criminal Court last October, presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt noted that the former electrician knew that he was assisting "a serious criminal organisation" and that he had received and followed instructions to obtain the hotel room at the Regency Hotel.

"He gave a key card to another member of the criminal organisation and made a room available to a leading gang member.

"The consequences of the assistance were particularly grave," he added.

Mr Justice Hunt said Dowdall was "complicit in the crime" despite maintaining that he was not aware of the purpose or the significance for which the room in the Regency was to be used.

Referring to a submission by counsel for Dowdall that no "injustice" would be done by giving his client a suspended sentence due to exceptional circumstances of the case, Mr Justice Hunt said that "regrettably" the court could not accept this.

A courtroom sketch of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch during his trial© PA

The offer of assistance to the prosecution, he emphasised, did not justify a wholly suspended sentence.

Mr Justice Hunt said Dowdall had previously committed "serious crimes of violence" and that he was not a person of previous good character. Both Jonathan and his father, Patrick Dowdall (65), of the same address, have previous convictions for false imprisonment, threatening to kill and causing serious harm from January 2015.

Patrick Dowdall was jailed for two years for his facilitation role in the Regency murder by the Special Criminal Court in October.

The non-jury court also accepted that Jonathan Dowdall's service of the custodial sentence will "undoubtedly create difficulties" for his partner and family but Mr Justice Hunt said that this was part of the consequences of the crime.

David Byrne was killed in the Regency Hotel attack

The judge said that the "extraordinary additional factor" was Jonathan Dowdall's decision to make a formal statement to gardai and give evidence against others.

The three-judge court accepted that "the immediate and lasting effect of assistance to the authorities" had placed Jonathan Dowdall and his family "in significant peril, something which will continue after his release from prison".

The sentence hearing was told that Room 2104 in the Regency Hotel was booked in the name of Patrick Dowdall on February 4, 2016, one day before Mr Byrne's murder. Patrick Dowdall's mobile phone number was also on the hotel's system, while a credit card connected to a family member of the Dowdalls had been used to secure the booking over the phone.

At that hearing, Michael O'Higgins SC, for Dowdall, said the decision for Jonathan Dowdall to give a statement to gardai had placed a "very, very heavy burden" on Dowdall and his family, that his client was facing a "pretty grim" future and that he would never again live in Ireland. "In effect, it's like taking your life and standing it on its head," he added.

The lawyer also said his client’s agreement to testify had "very dark consequences" for the Dowdalls and that his life was "effectively over".

Mr O'Higgins added that his client would be living in "permanent exile" and have to spend his life looking over his shoulder.

Dowdall was convicted under Section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act, that he did "on February 4, 2016, within the State and with knowledge of the existence of a criminal organisation, participated in, or contributed to, activity intending to, or being reckless as to whether such participation or contribution could facilitate the commission of a serious offence by that 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".

More Courts

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos