Hutch trial: Dowdall denies planning ‘mass murder’ in audio recording played in court

Former electrician accused Gerry Hutch’s defence council of trying to portray him as ‘chief of staff of the IRA’

Gerard Hutch (left), Jonathan Dowdall and Brendan Grehan SC.

Former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall, a former co-accused of Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch who has turned State’s witness, has denied that he was caught on an audio recording planning “mass murder”, discussing getting “people whacked” and planting bombs.

Under cross-examination for a fifth day by Mr Hutch’s defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, Dowdall denied he wanted to “blow up” lifelong criminal Trevor Byrne “while he slept in his bed at night”.

The former electrician also accused the lawyer of trying to make him out to be “the chief of staff of the IRA” and said a suggestion that he was able to boss “the Ryans” around was “one of the most ridiculous things you’ve said so far”.

Showing his frustration in the witness box, Dowdall told Mr Grehan, “it’s six days of this, six days of the same thing” and “I’m sick of bearing with you at this stage”.


The defence played excerpts today from the ten hours of the audio recording of conversations between Gerard Hutch and Dowdall that were captured by a garda bugging device, while they were allegedly travelling north to a meeting in Strabane in Co Tyrone on Monday, March 7th 2016 in Dowdall’s Toyota Land Cruiser jeep. After certain clips were played, Mr Grehan asked the ex-politician to explain to the court what was said in these recorded conversations.

The State’s case is that Mr Hutch had asked Jonathan Dowdall to arrange a meeting with his provisional republican contacts to mediate or resolve the Hutch-Kinahan feud due to the threats against the accused’s family and friends.

The Special Criminal Court has viewed CCTV footage of what the State says is Mr Hutch making two separate journeys to Northern Ireland with Dowdall on February 20th and March 7th, 2016, just weeks after Mr Byrne was murdered.

Gerard Hutch (59), last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, denies the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5th, 2016.

Discussion of alleged confession

In his direct evidence last week, Dowdall testified that Gerard Hutch told him in a park several days after the Regency attack, in or around February 8th, 2016, that he and another man had shot Mr Byrne at the hotel. The ex-politician testified that the accused said he “wasn’t happy about shooting the young lad David Byrne and David Byrne being killed”. Asked by prosecution counsel Sean Gillane SC if Mr Hutch had said who had shot Mr Byrne at the Regency Hotel in 2016, Dowdall replied: “He said it was him and ‘Mago’ Gately”.

Mr Grehan, representing Mr Hutch, opened his cross-examination last Tuesday by telling Dowdall that he wanted to be “very clear” that the defence position was that the witness had told “two big lies” to the court, namely that his client had collected keys cards for a room at the Regency Hotel from Dowdall and his father on Richmond Road on February 4th, 2016 and that Gerard Hutch had “confessed” to him in a park several days later.

Mr Grehan asked Dowdall on Monday that if the conversation in the park in Whitehall had “really happened”, why did it not come up again on the ten hour journey to the north on March 7th, when they discussed “all matters of things”. “He didn’t bring it up to me,” said the witness.

The former Dublin city councillor added that it was brought up as “I said about the three guns, there was concern about what they were getting, he said they did know”.

Counsel for Mr Hutch also put it to Dowdall that the fact of the matter was that if “the conversation in the park on February 8 had happened then he [Dowdall] would have mentioned it to his client in “some shape or form”.

“Sure why would I repeat it. Mr Hutch told me what he told me [in the park], you can decide for yourself, it’s not gonna change,” said the witness.

The witness agreed that Gerard Hutch had called to his house on the Navan Road on a motorbike on February 12 to ask him about whether he could make contact with people in the north.

The lawyer put it to the witness that there would be no reason for Gerard Hutch to meet him in the park on or around February 8 if the accused could have called to his house.

“Sure I didn’t want him coming to the house and he never asked to come up to the house,” he said.

“I’m suggesting your house is where you would have met Mr Hutch if he wanted to meet as you did on the 12th,” said counsel.

Dowdall replied: “It was in the park where he asked to meet him, I didn’t decide where to meet him, it was his decision to meet in the park”.

Dowdall told Mr Grehan that he wasn’t going to contact anybody after Gerard Hutch asked him in the park to contact his “friends in the north”. He said he felt it was a complete waste of time.

“You are telling us Mr Hutch was such a scary figure in your world you were afraid to do anything but the request he made of you, you weren’t going to bother trying?” asked counsel. “That’s right,” said Dowdall.

‘Caught on tape’

Mr Grehan suggested to Dowdall that the reason he was not willing to discuss anything on the audio in his interview with gardai in May 2016 was because he was “caught on tape planning mass murder”. “That’s ridiculous,” he said.

In his evidence today, Dowdall also denied that he was caught on the audio discussing how to make and plant a bomb. “I’m not saying I’m planting a bomb, I’m saying you could do that; not saying I’m going down to do that. It’s terrible talk, it didn’t happen,” he said.

The barrister asked, “How about having six people assassinated?”.

“Six people I didn’t know their names,” said Dowdall.

“Does it matter, you are on about getting people whacked,” said Mr Grehan.

Dowdall replied: “So is your client”.

“You’re the adviser on all this, you are advising about what to do,” said Mr Grehan.

Dowdall replies: “I don’t think he needs me to advise him”.

During another stage of his cross-examination, Mr Grehan asked the witness about his references to bomb making in the audio recording.

“There was no talk about bomb-making, it’s electrical circuits. I’m not talking about making bombs at any point,” said Dowdall.

The witness continued: “I am aware of electrical circuits and how things work and blow, that stuff you see on telly”.

Mr Grehan asks the witness if “the talk of electrical circuits” is not at the core of bomb making.

“You are making a massive thing about this, it didn’t happen and it was never going to happen and you keep bringing it back up,” he said.

Counsel said Dowdall had explained nothing to gardaí in May 2016 about his reference to bomb making in the audio, when their immediate concern at that time was the threat to people’s lives.

“I knew no threats to people’s lives. There was no danger to anyone from me,” he said.

‘Would I do circuits’

Playing parts of the audio to the witness, Mr Grehan asked Dowdall about Shane Rowan contacting him about circuits. The witness said Rowan had asked him about electrical circuits saying: “I was asked would I do circuits, I went along and said I would but was never doing them”.

The court has heard that Shane Rowan, last of Forest Park, Killygordan, in County Donegal was stopped in a car outside Slane in Co Meath at 7.05pm on March 9,th 2016. The vehicle was searched and three assault rifles modelled on original AK-47′s and ammunition were found in the boot of the car. Evidence has been given that bullet cases found at the Regency Hotel murder scene were fired by the three AK-47 assault rifles.

In July 2016, Rowan was jailed for seven and a half years for possession of assault rifles and ammunition. He was also sentenced to a concurrent sentence of four years in prison for IRA membership.

Asked what were the purpose of these electrical circuits, Dowdall said “they” wanted them for bombs but the bombs didn’t exist.

Mr Grehan put it to Dowdall that this was the first reference in the audio recording of him being asked to provided circuits for timers for bombs.

“I said I wasn’t giving them on the transcript, it didn’t happen,” he said.

Asked as to what was the reference in the recording to plastic, Dowdall said this was Semtex.

“You say it’s odourless?” asked the lawyer.

Dowdall said he did not know and had heard it was. “Seen on border control, them airport things,” he added.

Mr Grehan said Dowdall had told his client “it’s odourless and he [Gerard Hutch] could have it in his pocket”. “You said the only problem is you need the det, that’s the hard part right,” asked counsel.

Dowdall replied: “We were talking about how explosives work but I don’t know if it’s how they work”.

In the audio recording, Dowdall told Mr Hutch that “my yoke works on a det” and “it’s odourless, Gerard you could have that in your pocket”.

Dowdall can also be heard saying in the recording: “Now the only problem is that you need the det and that’s the hard part right, the det goes into, into that and it’s like a chemical reaction yoke” and “the electrical pulse that goes into that makes a chemical reaction and that’s what sets it off”.

Mr Grehan put it to Dowdall that he had described how to make a bomb, how to detonate it and that he had already demonstrated it.

Dowdall replied: “It never happened and was never going to happen”.

Referring to Dowdall telling Gerard Hutch that “my yoke works on a det right”, counsel said that was to demonstrate that the product worked.

“I don’t know what I was on about,” said Dowdall.

The witness continued: “You are putting me on trial for stuff that never happened, you are questioning me about stuff that has nothing to do with the hotel attack, none of that happened, again like my uncle, like the prison thing, you’re putting me on trial for”.

Mr Grehan told the witness that he was putting him on trial for his lies saying: “I don’t know who the real Jonathan Dowdall is, which is the liar and the truth teller”.

Counsel said the reference to “my yoke” could only be interpreted that he had made something to show it worked and he had demonstrated it for the benefit of his IRA “compadres”.

“No one ever got anything off me,” he replied.

Mr Grehan said his client was saying in the audio “give them the yokes”, the idea of giving the Ak-47′s to get “them to help”.

“That’s my understanding,” said Dowdall. When counsel put it to Dowdall that he was advising Patsy Hutch in the audio how to hand them over, Dowdall said “they had nothing to do with me, they weren’t mine”.

Trevor Byrne

Mr Grehan asked the witness to comment on the reference in the recording about “rigging” Trevor Byrne’s caravan in Wexford. “We have been through this about six times, I don’t know him, don’t know what he looks like, never met him, it’s bravado talk,” he said.

In July 2021, lifelong criminal Trevor Byrne was sentenced to consecutive jail sentences totalling 17.5 years for firearms offences and for the armed robbery of a bookmakers, after which he hijacked a woman’s car at gunpoint and threatened to kill her.

Told today by Mr Grehan that he must know something about Byrne to introduce his name into conversation, Dowdall said he thought there were rumours that he was trying to kill the Hutchs.

“Why did you want to blow him up while he slept in his bed at night,” asked Mr Grehan. “I didn’t, it’s nonsense’ he said. “If there was anything to it, I would have been down there”.

Asked about his mention of the Ryans in the audio, Dowdall accepted there was a “level of truth” in an account he gave Gerard Hutch on the tape about contacting Alan Ryan, leader of the Real IRA in Dublin.

Dowdall said a family was being terrorised and he did contact Alan Ryan to get it stopped.

Mr Grehan said it showed a “fairly serious level of involvement” with the IRA that he could ring him and get him to do something.

“I was never a member of the IRA. Mr Grehan you come from a privileged background I imagine. In the inner city, people don’t go to the police. A hard working family. I tried to stop it and it was stopped. It was stopped. Over a fight,” Dowdall said.

When another excerpt about the Ryans was played, Dowdall told counsel: “You are trying to make me out here to be the chief of staff of the IRA the way you’re going on”.

“You seem to be able to boss the Ryans around?” said Mr Grehan. Dowdall said: “That’s one of the most ridiculous things you’ve said so far”.

Dowdall will continue in cross examination tomorrow before presiding judge Ms Justice Tara Burns sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.


Dowdall (44) was charged on April 27 2021 with the murder of Mr Byrne at the Regency Hotel but pleaded guilty in advance of the trial to a lesser charge of facilitating the Hutch gang by making a hotel room available for use by the perpetrators the night before the attack. He was jailed by the Special Criminal Court for four years for the facilitation offence. Following Dowdall’s sentence on October 3, a nolle prosequi - a decision not to proceed - was entered on the murder charge against the former Dublin city councillor.

The prosecution case is that the late dissident republican Kevin Murray used the hotel room that was booked at the Regency on the night of February 4th, that he was the man seen wearing a flat cap when Mr Byrne was killed and that he cooperated with the “tactical team” that raided the Regency Hotel on February 5th. Mr Murray died from motor neurone disease in 2017 before he could be brought to trial.

Dowdall has previous convictions for false imprisonment, threatening to kill and causing serious harm from January 2015.

Mr Byrne, from Crumlin, was shot dead at the hotel in Whitehall, Dublin 9 after five men, three disguised as armed gardaí in tactical clothing and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, stormed the building during the attack, which was hosting a boxing weigh-in at the time. The victim was shot by two of the tactical assailants and further rounds were delivered to his head and body.

Mr Hutch’s two co-accused - Paul Murphy (61), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin and Jason Bonney (50), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13 have pleaded not guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of David Byrne by providing access to motor vehicles on February 5th, 2016.