Losing the plot | 

Jonathan Dowdall heard suggesting kidnap of mobster’s wife during explosive week of Hutch trial

The former Sinn Féin councillor tells the veteran mobster he cannot trust the Kinahans and warns him against entering any peace negotiations with them.

Former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall with Sinn Féin party leader Mary Lou McDonald

Nicola TallantSunday World

HE’S the State Witness with a tarnished reputation as a thug who kidnapped, tortured and water-boarded a man in his home after a plan to buy a motorbike went wrong.

Jonathan Dowdall was facing a murder rap in relation to the shooting of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel but he pleaded guilty to facilitating instead, turning State Witness against his old pal Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch.

While tapes played to the Special Criminal Court this week were of more concern to the man in the dock, it was actually Dowdall who came out bruised from the secret Garda recordings captured in March 2016 in his Toyota Landcruiser.

In a series of extraordinary exchanges with Gerry Hutch, Dowdall is heard suggesting that ‘The Monk’:

Place a bomb under a mobile home where he believes hitman Trevor Byrne is hiding in Wexford, saying: “You could rig that in the middle of the night and bang.”

Thomas Bomber Kavanagh . Photo: Jason Roberts/PA Wire© PA

Consider ‘grabbing’ Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh’s wife, Joanne, as she attended an Irish dancing contest in Ennis, Co. Clare.

Send heavies to the family home of Kinahan mobster Barry Finnegan at Hardwicke Street flats to put pressure on them.

Dowdall urges ‘The Monk’ to ask the Provos to kill six hitmen identified for the murder of his brother ‘Neddy’ and the attempted assassination of Hutch himself on the Canary island of Lanzarote months previous.

The former Sinn Féin councillor tells the veteran mobster he cannot trust the Kinahans and warns him against entering any peace negotiations with them.

Dowdall is intricate in the planning of the meetings between Hutch and northern paramilitaries, who believe they can order a ceasefire with the Kinahan organisation.

As they drive to the Border, he tells how he warned off Real IRA thugs Vinny Ryan and his brother Alan when they were harassing a family in Kilbarrack.

“I ring Alan and say what is the story with your brother. I’ll meet you at McDonalds in Donaghamede. I told him Vinny is terrorising that family. I say, if they go to the police where does that leave you….I grabbed him by the throat and I said ‘I’ll bleedin’ kill ya you little pr**k. I’ll f***in’ kill you.’”

Garda remove a BMW car and motorcycle from the home of Jonathan Dowdall on the Navan Road. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 10/3/2016

Dowdall also repeatedly asks Hutch about ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh, at one point making a suggestion that he can get to him at an annual show his wife attends.

“There is this yoke in Ennis. His bird will be at it. Just saying... I know you don’t want to do anything to the bird, but it’s a big dancing competition…You could grab her, that is all I’m saying.”

When Hutch tells Dowdall that his brother Patsy is talking about a peace process in the wake of their older brother Neddy’s murder, the electrician is wary. “How can you trust them. I know you trust me now, but you can’t get complacent. If there was a peace deal you can’t get relaxed.”

Dowdall tells Hutch how his wife Trisha witnessed Liam Byrne’s partner, Simoan McEnroe, in a dance costume shop where she ordered a child’s dress and said she didn’t care about the cost.

Trevor Byrne - Trevor Byrne pictured celebrating his 40th birthday in Mountjoy jail

On another occasion, he says Trisha told him she’d been visiting her mother’s grave when she noticed lavish floral tributes on David Byrne’s. “It’s crass, Gerard. You are never like that,” he says.

When he discusses the involvement of the Provos in a ‘ceasefire’, Dowdall tells Hutch: “They think they are dealing with normal people. But they are out of their league. The best thing that could happen is if the Kinahans tell them to ‘F**k Off’.

As they plan to meet in Strabane, Co. Tyrone, with the ‘Northern leadership’, Dowdall asks Hutch if he wants him to stand aside, but is told no, that he should join the meeting and push through the names of six hitmen they want killed as part of the ‘peace agreement.’

“I’m gonna say it as well then,” he says.

During his sentence hearing before the Regency trial got underway, Detective Sergeant Patrick O’Toole agreed with Dowdall’s barrister Michael O’Higgins SC that he was not a member of any organised crime gang.

While Dowdall was known to the Hutch family since he was a teenager and occasionally borrowed money from them, he did not benefit from the activities of the Hutch crime gang, the Gardadetective said.

The court heard that when Dowdall was first arrested in connection with the murder of David Byrne he indicated that he wished to speak to someone in the Witness Protection Programme. In November 2021, he said he was willing to make a statement about his knowledge of the Regency Hotel shooting.

Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch

A formal statement was taken from him a week before he was due to go on trial for murder, with O’Higgins stating: “He has implicated other persons and that is potentially of interest to the prosecution.”

“He has to live in permanent exile and spend his life looking over his shoulder,” he added.

Dowdall was sentenced to 10 years in jail after he and his father were nabbed after falsely imprisoning and torturing a man they believed had tried to defraud them. They were caught for the 2015 incident after a video was found during a Garda search relating to the Regency Hotel investigation.

Both pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning and threatening to kill him at Jonathan Dowdall’s family home on the Navan Road in Dublin.

During his ordeal, the victim was cable tied and quizzed at length in a garage while Dowdall, wearing a balaclava, held a tea towel to his face before pouring water over his head. Patrick Dowdall was heard threatening to pull off Hurley’s fingers one-by-one with a pair of pliers.

The court heard the Dowdalls and a third person had discussed feeding him to dogs, chopping him up and placing him in cellophane bags and storing him in the boot of a BMW.

Dowdall is due to give evidence in the coming weeks against his former co-accused Hutch.

The trial continues.

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