Hutch trial: Dowdall vows to rebuild life as seven-day cross examination comes to an end

Witness concludes evidence to Gerard Hutch’s trial for murder of David Byrne at Regency Hotel

Jonathan Dowdall, a former co-accused of Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch who has turned State’s witness in his trial for the murder of David Byrne, has vowed he will rebuild his life no matter if he has to “clean kennels” to feed his children.

The Special Criminal Court also heard that an analysis of the former Sinn Féin councillor’s phone showed he was travelling towards Dundalk on one his proposed dates for a meeting with Mr Hutch - when Dowdall claims he “confessed” his direct involvement in the murder of Mr Byrne - while on the other proposed date his phone pinged off a mast potentially covering the area but “at least three hours” after he claimed he’d met the accused.

Under cross-examination for a seventh and final day, Dowdall told Mr Hutch’s defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC that he had “torn him to shreds” for the last week and that if the three judges do not believe him, that’s up to them.

“I’ve painted myself in a terrible light but that’s the truth,” he said.


The non-jury court refused to allow the defence to play a video of Dowdall waterboarding, torturing and threatening to kill victim Alexander Hurley who came to his home to buy a motorbike in January 2015. However, an interview was played to the courtroom of Dowdall “hot-footing” it onto Joe Duffy’s RTÉ Liveline programme on March 9th, 2016, where Mr Grehan said the witness played the “indignant victim” and denied any involvement with criminality following a raid by gardai on his home on the Navan Road.

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 in Dublin on February 5th, 2016.

Dowdall, who has pleaded guilty to facilitating Mr Byrne’s murder, has denied under cross-examination contentions that he is a “master manipulator” who is prepared to lie on oath and has told “two big lies” in his direct evidence.

He also rejected claims that he has a “fairly mixed relationship with the truth”, that he manipulates every situation to his own advantage and that he is an opportunistic liar.

The defence played the final excerpts on Wednesday from secret Garda recordings of conversations between Mr Hutch and Dowdall while they were allegedly travelling to a meeting in Strabane in Co Tyrone on Monday, March 7th, 2016.

After certain clips were played, Mr Grehan asked the witness to explain to the court what was said in these recorded conversations. The State’s case is that Mr Hutch had asked 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.

The court has heard that gardaí were searching Dowdall’s house on the Navan Road on March 9th, 2016 in relation to the Regency attack on the basis that firearms and explosives were being stored there on behalf of the IRA, when detectives found a USB key containing footage of the waterboarding of Mr Hurley. When gardaí examined the flashdrive, they discovered that it contained footage of a man imprisoned in Dowdall’s garage.

The non-jury court has heard that the warrant was executed on Dowdall’s house an hour after three AK-47 assault rifles - used in the murder of Mr Byrne at the Regency Hotel - were recovered by gardai in the boot of convicted IRA member Shane Rowan’s car.


Asked by Mr Grehan if he was upset that his house was raided, Dowdall said he was not.

“With respect you were very annoyed and indignant and thought you were victimised,” said counsel.

“Where are you getting this from?” asked Dowdall.

“I’m getting it from the man who hot-footed it onto Joe Duffy to tell the nation how unfair it was. You were outraged and felt it was because you were previously a Sinn Féin councillor,” said the barrister.

Mr Grehan asked that an audio be played of Dowdall appearing on the Joe Duffy show on Friday, March 11th, 2016, where the father-of-four denied any involvement with criminality.

Dowdall told RTE’s Liveline that “I’ve no links or connections to criminality or any crime organisations in any shape or form.. .... If there was any criminality stuff to do with me it would have been out during the time of the elections.”

Dowdall said he only vaguely remembered the phone call as he was taking tablets and was not himself.

Under-cross examination, Mr Grehan put it to Dowdall that he had portrayed himself as a victim. “The interview demonstrates that you’re an individual who believes you can lie yourself out of any situation and you are very convincing in doing that,” said Mr Grehan.

Dowdall (44) - a married father of four with an address at Navan Road, Cabra, Dublin 7 - was due to stand trial for Mr Byrne’s murder alongside Gerard Hutch 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.

Mr Grehan suggested Dowdall’s business had gone “down the drain” following his conviction.

“I will always rebuild my life no matter if I’ve to dig dog sh**e to clean kennels to feed my children,” said Dowdall, raising his voice.

Dowdall has finished his cross examination and the trial will continue on January 11th before presiding judge Ms Justice Tara Burns sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone. There is expected to be two more weeks of evidence.