Jonathan Dowdall tells Regency Hotel murder trial he ‘is not a rat’

‘I don’t care if I get killed. Nobody will touch my children,’ key witness tells court

Jonathan Dowdall, the key witness in the Regency Hotel murder trial, has said he is “not a rat” and has come to court “to tell the truth”.

“I don’t care if I get killed. Nobody will touch my children,” Mr Dowdall, who the non-jury Special Criminal Court has heard continues to be assessed for inclusion on the Witness Security Programme, said on Wednesday under cross-examination by counsel for murder accused, Gerard Hutch.

“If, down the road, I’m required to come into this court and give evidence against Patsy, I will do that no matter how much it destroys my life. It’s nothing to do with getting a murder charge dropped.”

Mr Dowdall made the comments to Brendan Grehan SC for Gerard Hutch, last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, who denies the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel on February 5th, 2016.


The trial opened on October 18th before the three-judge, non-jury court and the court has been packed since Mr Dowdall began his testimony on Monday.

Mr Dowdall, sitting almost directly across from Gerard Hutch, has denied suggestions by Mr Grehan there are “two big lies” at the heart of his testimony.

Counsel said the first lie was that Gerard Hutch, on the night before the Regency attack, had collected key cards from Mr Dowdall and his father Patrick for a room booked by the latter in the Regency at the request of Patsy Hutch, brother of Gerard Hutch.

The prosecution contend the room was used by one of the attackers, a dissident republican, Kevin “Flatcap” Murray, since deceased.

Mr Grehan has said the second lie was that Gerard Hutch had “confessed” to Mr Dowdall in a park in Whitehall, Dublin, three days after the murder. Mr Dowdall, in his direct evidence, has said Mr Hutch told him that “him and Mago Gately shot David Byrne”.

Towards the end of his cross-examination on Wednesday, Mr Dowdall said: “Gerard’s the one that got the cards, Patsy got me to book the room and I met Gerard in the park, that’s the gospel honest truth.”

He said he was “deeply sorry for what happened to David Byrne but I was not involved in that murder”.

Mr Dowdall, a former Sinn Féin councillor, said the “Provos” have “gone” and neither they nor dissident republicans were involved in the Regency hotel attack.

Mr Grehan asked Mr Dowdall detailed questions aimed at establishing how and when he met republican contacts that lead him to seek to have republicans mediate the Hutch/Kinahan feud.

Mr Dowdall said he did not have heavy republican contacts and said Gerard Hutch had more than him.

He agreed former Real IRA leader Alan Ryan had, with others, visited his home before Ryan’s death in 2012 and he, Dowdall, had asked another person to be present alongside him when that occurred. He said it was “not true” to say Ryan “got his marching orders”.

Mr Dowdall, who says he had regarded Patsy Hutch as a “father figure”, said he believed in early 2016 Patsy Hutch and members of his family were in danger and was asked by Patsy Hutch to see would republicans mediate the Hutch/Kinahan feud.

Counsel asked him about visiting former IRA killer Pearse McAuley in prison when the latter, who previously served a sentence for the manslaughter of Det Garda Jerry McCabe, was serving a sentence for what Mr Dowdall described as an “horrendous” stabbing attack on McAuley’s wife.

Mr Dowdall initially said he believed he visited McAuley two or three times but, after counsel produced prison visits records, accepted it was 14 times between 2015 and January 2016.

He said he asked McAuley for a contact with a view to getting republicans to mediate the feud. McAuley told him not to get involved but gave him a contact in January 2016, he said. The people he subsequently met in the North were “nobodies”, he said.

The hearing continues on Thursday.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times