Republic of Ireland news

Dowdall says threats to his family increased after agreeing to testify against Hutch

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Jonathan Dowdall (front left), surrounded by dock officers and police during the trial at the Special Criminal Court, Dublin, of Gerry “The Monk” Hutch (third left) for the murder of David Byrne at a hotel in Dublin in 2016. Mr Byrne, 34, was killed during a crowded boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel in one of the early attacks of the Hutch-Kinahan gangland feud. Issue date: Monday December 12, 2022.
Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Key State witness Jonathan Dowdall has told the court that the threat level to his family has increased since he decided to testify in the trial of Gerard “The Monk” Hutch.

Hutch’s legal team is playing videos of gardai interviewing Dowdall in 2016 in the wake of the Regency shooting.

The defence is then cross-examining Dowdall on why he wasn’t more forthcoming about what he knew.

“I’ve no connection to the Regency hotel in any shape or form,” the former Sinn Fein councillor is heard telling Gardai on the tapes.

“I’m not connected to the murder.”

Later in the tapes, when asked did he bring his father Patrick to the Regency hotel, Dowdall tells Gardai: “I can’t remember, I’ve no comment on it. Jesus Christ.”

During Garda questioning of Dowdall over when he had last been to the Regency hotel, to which Dowdall answered he had not been in the hotel for “years”, Dowdall is seen holding his head in his hand.

Dowdall responded in court on Friday that he didn’t know at that time that the room booked at the Regency was involved in the murder of David Byrne.

He said he also couldn’t tell Gardai about certain aspects for fear of what would happen to him and his family.

“What I knew would happen then has happened now,” he said, adding that it was “worse” than he had feared.

The level of threats against his mother and family increased after he decided to give evidence, he added.

“Telling a 62-year-old woman that she’s dead, that my children are dead,” Dowdall said.

Dowdall told the court his children haven’t attended school since September because the threat level is too high, and that it has affected his daughter’s career.

“The level of pressure that people get under,” he said, adding that it was why no one testifies.

Senior council for Hutch Brendan Grehan responded he would keep asking questions and that he would not be put off from doing his job.

Mr Grehan repeatedly put it to Dowdall that he had chosen to speak to Gardai during the 2016 interviews and told the court that he had chosen to tell “elaborate lies”.

“You didn’t have to say anything but instead you chose to lie your way out of the situation.”

Dowdall said he understood he didn’t have to say anything, or praise Hutch during the Garda interviews, but he was in the dark about how the room had been used.

“I didn’t know who stayed in the room, Mr Grehan.

“I didn’t tell them the truth… I explained all this and the reasons why,” he said, accusing Mr Grehan of “playing silly beggers here (sic).”

Mr Grehan told Dowdall that he spoke to Gardai because “you consider yourself to be a convincing liar.”

“You would say that Mr Grehan,” Dowdall responded.

“You just want me to put me in that box and call me a liar, a liar, a liar,” he added, telling Mr Grehan he knew better than anyone that he couldn’t speak about what he knew then.

David Byrne, 33, was killed during a crowded boxing weigh-in event on February 5, 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.

Dowdall, 44, 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.

His father Patrick Dowdall, aged 65 with the same address on the Navan Road, also admitted assisting a criminal gang to commit the murder and was sentenced to two years.

This is in relation to the booking of a room at the Regency hotel the night before the fatal attack that was used by one of the gunmen.

Friday marks Dowdall’s fifth day of giving evidence at the non-jury Special Criminal Court, and the fourth day of cross-examination.

Two other men, Paul Murphy, 59, of Cabra Road, Swords, and Jason Bonney, 50, of Drumnigh Wood in Portmarnock, also pleaded not guilty to lesser charges related to the murder.

The three defendants sat beside each other in the dock, with Mr Hutch seen using a hearing aid.

The trial continues on Friday afternoon.