'under pressure' | 

Jonathan Dowdall tells Gerry Hutch trial ‘it was Patsy's sons that started the shooting’

Mr Grehan was cross-examining Dowdall as he gave evidence for a second day in Gerry Hutch’s trial for the murder of David Byrne

Sunday World

Gerard Hutch’s barrister has accused former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall of telling “two big lies” in court about “The Monk”’s alleged involvement in the Regency Hotel murder.

Brendan Grehan SC said Dowdall had lied about Hutch confessing to murdering David Byrne and that the accused was handed over keys for a room at the Regency the night before the shooting.

Mr Grehan said Dowdall had a “strange relationship” with the truth and had lied to the “people of Ireland” when he appeared on Joe Duffy's radio show and denied taking part in any crime.

Dowdall denied he had lied on the programme but said he was under pressure at the time and should not have agreed to it.

Mr Grehan was cross-examining Dowdall as he gave evidence for a second day in Hutch’s trial for the murder of Byrne in a gangland attack at the Regency on February 5, 2016.

Earlier, Dowdall told the court the three “yokes” he and Mr Hutch were heard discussing in a bugged conversation a month after the shooting were the AK47s used in the attack.

Dowdall also said Hutch was lying when he said on the surveillance recording that he did not know who “six people” involved in the raid were.

Byrne (33), a Kinahan gang member, was killed when five raiders, three disguised as ERU gardai with assault rifles along with an armed man in a flat cap and another gunman dressed as a woman stormed the hotel.

The attack at a boxing weigh-in fuelled the Kinahan-Hutch gang feud.

Hutch (59), of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to the murder.

Two other men, Jason Bonney (51) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock and Paul Murphy (61) of Cherry Avenue, Swords, deny providing cars for the attack team.

Dowdall had also been charged Mr Byrne’s murder but before the trial started he instead pleaded guilty to facilitating the killing, by helping his father Patrick to book a room in the Regency for use by a criminal organisation. His murder charge was withdrawn by the prosecution.

In his evidence yesterday, Dowdall made two main allegations against Mr Hutch.

The first is that when he drove his father to hand over the Regency room keys the day before the attack, it was to Gerard Hutch. The court has heard the room was later used by the raider in the flat cap, now-deceased Kevin Murray.

The second allegation Dowdall made was that three days after the shooting, Mr Hutch met him in a park and confessed that he and another man had shot David Byrne.

This morning, prosecutor Sean Gillane SC led Dowdall through some of the conversations he had with Mr Hutch on a journey they made to Northern Ireland and back on March 7, 2016.

Dowdall has said this trip was for a meeting being arranged with the Kinahans to stop the feud.

He said Mr Hutch had told him in the park a lot of innocent people were going to be killed and they “needed to get someone to sort everything out.”

Dowdall said he was not aware that a garda audio surveillance device had been placed in his Toyota Land Cruiser when he drove Mr Hutch north on March 7.

Today, Dowdall first confirmed to Mr Gillane that it was him and Mr Hutch speaking on the tapes.

Mr Gillane asked him about a reference by Mr Hutch to the “three yokes” and what they were.

“That was the three guns,” Dowdall replied. “The AK47s.”

He said at an earlier meeting in the north, Mr Hutch had said he was “giving them three AK-47s.”

A reference to them being “thrown up” meant that Mr Hutch was “giving them regardless.”

Mr Gillane asked him about a reference to "the village". Dowdall said this was Buckingham Village in the north inner city. He said he spoke to Gerard Hutch's brother Patsy Hutch about his own van being there and CCTV.

David Byrne

"I was told that the van that was used was parked in Buckingham Village and he had got rid of the CCTV for that reason," Dowdall told the court.

"Some woman" was supposed to have got rid of the CCTV and Patsy told him at the time "he got rid of the CCTV because he drove the van," Dowdall said.

The court heard another clip where Mr Hutch was heard saying “The f***ing six people don’t know who the six people are, no one f***ing knows, so how can they [gardaí] know. I definitely know two people don’t know each other. It’s all speculation looking at snaps.”

Mr Gillane asked Dowdall what this reference was about.

Dowdall said at the time, “I knew Gerard was involved, I knew Patsy was involved” and he knew Kevin Murray’s name.

“He’s lying to me, saying they don’t know each other,” he said of Gerard Hutch. “I didn’t know who was there. I believed they didn’t know each other until I saw the book of evidence.”

It was clear that they knew each other and “he’s telling me they don’t know each other," Dowdall said.

In another reference to the van, he said "Patsy told me he parked the van in Buckingham Village, he was afraid to drive it, he asked me to say I had the van."

Dowdall said in a reference to Patsy Hutch's house being raided and a key not being taken by gardai, "he never said it was the key... I'm not sure if it was the key or wasn't."

Later on the tapes, Mr Dowdall is heard asking Mr Hutch after a meeting if there is anything else he needs. Mr Hutch says: “Maybe if they say they’ll go and do away with the half dozen hitmen in Dublin.

Dowdall told the court there was never anything done or agreed that “they would do anything like that.”

“It was loose talk, I don’t think there was any substance in it,” he said. “They would never have agreed to anything like that.”

He said the "hitmen" reference was talk about the people “that killed Neddy (Hutch) and the people that tried to kill Gerard and stuff like that.”

Dowdall said before the Regency attack, he agreed to help in the feud by approaching republicans in Northern Ireland to mediate in the dispute.

At the time, he said he thought that the Kinahans "wrongfully believed" that Patsy Hutch's son Gary Hutch was involved in trying to kill Daniel Kinahan and that the Kinahans were also blaming Patrick Hutch, who is Gary's younger brother.

Dowdall said he believed "innocent people were trying to be killed" and wouldn't have gotten involved if he had known the truth.

"Gerard didn't start it. It was Patsy's sons that started the shooting. It wasn't even the Kinahans," he said.

Gary Hutch

Dowdall said of the tapes, he "didn't want to be there", he was saying things he thought Mr Hutch wanted to hear and "I'm ashamed of what I was saying."

Commenting on a conversation about the "three things being given and them getting nicked with them", Dowdall said this was "just bad taste" and "crap talk."

A remark that "they will be out using them" was a reference to the firearms, he said.

Dowdall told Mr Gillane at the time of the recording, he had not known Kevin "Flat Cap" Murray had used the hotel room, and did not know this until the gardai told him.

“The defence position will be that you have lied to this court, and there are two big lies at the heart of your testimony,” Mr Grehan said at the start of his cross-examination.

“One is that Gerard Hutch collected the hotel cards from you and your dad and the second is that he confessed to you in a park a couple of days later.”

“As you were giving evidence yesterday, it struck me that you see yourself as a kind of good Samaritan who Patsy had come to with a problem that he had and you felt obliged to help.”

Dowdall said when Patsy Hutch originally came to him he was told allegations about his sons Patrick Jnr and Gary, and an attempt to shoot Daniel Kinahan.

There had been an attempt on Patsy Hutch’s life outside a school when he was picking up his grandson, and there were demands for money, Dowdall said.

He said he was asked to get someone to help mediate and stop the feud. His understanding at the time was innocent family members were "attempting to be murdered" over something Patsy’s sons were blamed for doing.

Mr Grehan put it to him he “thought he would get the IRA involved.”

“To mediate, to stop any further threats and attempts on the family,” Dowdall said.

“And Gerard Hutch had nothing to do with this,” Mr Grehan said.

Dowdall said he would meet Gerard Hutch at the boxing club but “didn’t know him that well” then.

Jonathan Dowdall (right) and his father Patrick (right) leaving court

“I was good friends with Pasty,” he said, agreeing that Patsy was “like an uncle” to him.

He said he knew Patrick Hutch Jnr better than his two brothers. He found out “the truth” about the feud later on while he was in Wheatfield prison, he said.

Dowdall said he was told this by Patrick Hutch Jnr while he was in the prison.

Mr Grehan asked was it not because Daniel Kinahan shot Patrick Hutch Jnr in the bone when he was supposed to give him a flesh wound as part of a punishment shooting deal.

The “truth”, he said, was that there was €4.5m in an apartment Gary was staying in in Spain.

He was told there was an attempt to shoot Daniel Kinahan and instead Patrick Hutch Jnr shot a boxer.

Mr Grehan asked Dowdall if he had hidden Patrick Jnr in his house after Gary was killed.

“That is correct, I was told Patrick’s life was in serious danger, Patsy asked me could Patrick stay with me for a few days and I agreed.”

He said Patsy and Patrick lied to him when they said the brothers were wrongly accused of the attempt on Daniel Kinahan.

“The real reason is Gary and Patrick had decided to take this money and kill Daniel Kinahan and they attempted to shoot Daniel Kinahan and they shot that boxer,” he said.

Dowdall said he had been originally told the brothers were wrongly accused.

Mr Grehan said Dowdall seemed to have something new to say today - that it was the Kinahans who were the wronged party.

“There’s this thing in the media that the Hutches were innocently accused of things,” Dowdall said. “The truth is that Patrick (Jnr) and Gary did what they were accused of doing and it didn’t get out until afterwards.”

He said he was not trying to correct the media but to tell the truth.

“You have a fairly mixed relationship with the truth,” Mr Grehan said.

“No, I don’t”, Dowdall said.

Mr Grehan asked if Dowdall was ever involved in criminality.

“Obviously I was in prison for a period of time, before that I was never involved,” he said.

A prison van under Garda escort arriving at the Special Criminal Court where Jonathan Dowdall continued to give evidence in the trial of Gerry Hutch, for the murder of David Byrne. PIC: Collins Courts

Dowdall was released from prison earlier this year after serving a sentence for the torture of a man, Alexander Hurley at his Navan Road home in 2015.

Dowdall waterboarded Mr Hurley, believing the victim was trying to defraud him. He pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning and threatening to kill Mr Hurley.

Gardai uncovered that crime when they found video footage of the torture on an electronic device during a raid of Dowdall’s home while investigating David Byrne’s murder.

Mr Grehan said at the time his house was raided after the Regency attack, Dowdall had “asserted to the people of Ireland” that he had no involvement in criminality.

“Are you talking about the Joe Duffy?” Dowdall asked. Mr Grehan said he was referring to his appearance on the programme.

“At that time I wasn’t involved in organised crime, I’m still not, I never have been,” Dowdall said.

He “deeply regretted” what happened and pleaded guilty, he said.

Mr Grehan asked if he accepted he lied when he went on Joe Duffy.

Mr Dowdall repeated that he was never involved in organised crime, but he had committed a criminal act at that time. He was “under pressure” at the time he agreed to go on the programme.

“I didn’t tell any lies to Joe Duffy,” he said.

Mr Grehan said gardai searched his home because they believed he and his father were members of the IRA and they might find explosives or firearms there.

He asked had the offences against Mr Hurley “slipped out of your mind when you spoke to Joe Duffy and proclaimed yourself innocent?”

“I didn’t think of it,” he replied. “If I had been thinking in a proper rational mind I would never have took that call.”

“So it was Joe Duffy’s fault,” Mr Grehan said.

“I never said it was Joe Duffy’s fault, it was my fault,” Dowdall replied. “I wasn’t myself when I went on Joe Duffy.”

Raiders disguised as Garda armed with AK47 Assault Rifles enter the front door of THe Regency Hotel

Mr Grehan said it was a lie to say at the time he had no involvement in crime; what he meant was there was no proof and this was the way he thought.

“It’s not the way I think,” Dowdall said.

He said he was not involved in the moving of the AK-47s north.

“They weren’t in my control, they weren’t mine,” he said.

Mr Grehan asked if he had not organised who was to be contacted up North about this. Dowdall replied that after the Regency, he was “stuck in the middle” and he was “told something I shouldn’t have been told” and had “no choice at that stage to go back and forward to these meetings.”

Mr Grehan said it came out in the tapes from his journey north with Gerard Hutch that Dowdall knew about bomb-making.

“I wasn’t bomb-making, it was circuits, they didn’t exist,” he said.

He had been under surveillance and if he had attempted to do any of that “I would have been discovered,” he said.

“It didn’t exist, it was lies,” he said.

“How do we know which Jonathan Dowdall is speaking?” Mr Grehan asked. “The liar or the person who tells the truth?”

Dowdall said he was asked because he was an electrician to do electrical circuits. It was pressure but it didn’t happen, he said.

Mr Grehan said there was more than one reference to bomb-making on the tapes.

“There’s loads, but it didn’t happen, it was never going to happen,” Dowdall replied.

Asked about describing a bomb being put under a caravan in Courtttown, he said: “It was nonsense, it never happened.”

“I’m ashamed of saying it,” he said, adding that he did not even know the person.

Mr Grehan said Dowdall had dismissed comments he made on the tape as him being on tablets, being nervous, talking rubbish and trying to impress Mr Hutch.

Mr Grehan put it to him he had a “very strange relationship” with the truth and if something could not be proved “then it’s just lies.”

“No, that is not what I’m saying at all, it didn’t happen,” Dowdall repeated.

Last week, the court ruled Dowdall’s evidence was admissible in the trial.

The defence had objected, arguing his statement was “tainted” by the dropping of his murder charge in a “quid pro quo” between Dowdall and the state. The prosecution said everything done in relation to Dowdall was "above board" and the court had a right "to hear every man's evidence."

The court ruled no "fundamental unfairness" arose from the circumstances in which Dowdall gave his statement, and that it had not been given in return for his murder charge being dropped.

The tapes had also been the subject of a defence challenge but were also ruled admissible.

The non-jury trial is being heard by Ms Justice Tara Burns, Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.


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