Republic of Ireland news

Hutch family willing to ‘throw people under bus', Jonathan Dowdall tells court

Former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall has turned state witness and is expected to enter a witness protection programme (Elizabeth Cook/PA)
Michelle Devane, PA

Former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall said the family of Gerry “The Monk” Hutch were willing to “throw people under the bus” following the murder of David Byrne, a court has heard.

Dowdall told Dublin’s Special Criminal Court he was “set up” and that Gerard Hutch was also “willing to throw his own brother under the bus”.

The court heard that Dowdall, who was being cross-examined by senior counsel Brendan Grehan and giving evidence for a third day, was “disgusted and ashamed” by his “bravado” talk revealed in secret Garda recordings.

Hutch is on trial over the murder of Mr Byrne, who was shot dead at the Regency Hotel in February 2016, in one of the first deadly attacks of the Hutch-Kinahan gangland feud.

Hutch, from the Paddocks, Clontarf, has denied the charge of murder.

On Wednesday, Dowdall agreed with Mr Grehan that the only evidence that Hutch had “confessed” in a Dublin park to the murder of Mr Byrne was from himself.

Dowdall, who was to stand trial for murder, is serving a four-year prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to facilitating the murder of Mr Byrne.

He agreed to turn state witness and is expected to enter a witness protection programme.

Dowdall admitted facilitating the murder of Mr Byrne after he helped book a room at the hotel used by one of the gunmen.

Pressed by Mr Grehan, Dowdall said it was only natural that he would want the murder charge against him dropped for testifying against Hutch.

“I wasn’t involved in a murder. Why would I take the blame for a murder I wasn’t involved in,” he said.

Dowdall also told the court he was in a “bad place” due to the pressure he was being put under and that he had attempted suicide.

“I was in a bad place. At that time,” he said.

“I tried to take my own life, I was found by hotel staff … I was brought to the hospital unresponsive.”

He then spent a period of time in hospital, he told the court, adding that the gardai were aware of this.

The court heard that Dowdall’s discussion with Hutch where he outlined planning a bomb was “only talk” and that “people say things all the time”.

Mr Grehan said the Garda recording of a car journey “clearly suggests” Dowdall was involved with planning to plant a bomb under a man’s home “to kill him”.

“Is that not right?” he asked Dowdall.

“I wasn’t planning anything … It was crap talk, it was bravado, it was s***e talk. Nothing happened.”

Mr Grehan put it to Dowdall that it sounded like he was involved.

“People talk stuff that they don’t mean a lot of times,” Dowdall replied.

“It’s terrible talk … I would never have done that. It was bravado talk. It was disgusting bravado talk,” he added.

Today’s proceedings began with presiding judge Ms Justice Burns warning the public not to record the court proceedings.

Prosecuting counsel Sean Gillane told the hearing he had been made aware of videos recorded in the overflow court that were circulating on social media.

Ms Justice Burns said she was “surprised” and reminded those in both the courtroom and the overflow courtroom that “it is an offence to record proceedings anywhere within any courtroom”.

“It’s absolutely prohibited,” the judge said, adding that she was “warning people that it is not to occur”.

The trial continues.