State witness in Hutch trial denies plan to deliver bomb timers to dissident republicans

Former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall
Former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall

EX-Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall, a former co-accused of Gerard 'The Monk' Hutch who has turned State's witness, has denied he used the promise of bomb timers as "a bargaining tool" to get dissident republicans to mediate in the Hutch/Kinahan feud.

The former politician also denied references he made on the recording about bombing a house in Finglas or having the IRA grab two people and "whack" one, were real.

He insisted it was all "nonsense", "hypothetical stuff" and "none of it ever happened".

Dowdall, previously sentenced to four years for his involvement in the 2016 murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in Dublin, has been in the witness box for six days being cross examined by defence counsel Brendan Grehan at the Special Criminal Court.

Hutch (59) from the Paddocks, Clontarf, is on trial for murdering Mr Byrne during a boxing weigh-in at Dublin's Regency Airport Hotel in 2016.

Dowdall, who is serving four years for facilitating the murder, is giving evidence at the trial. Yesterday also denied ever being an IRA member.

At the centre of the cross examination are comments made by Dowdall and Hutch caught on audio during journeys across the border.

It was previously stated in court that Hutch had hoped dissident republicans could mediate to end the feud with the Kinahan gang, and that Dowdall was the go between.

The defence played further excerpts yesterday from the secret garda recordings of conversations between the pair as they travelled north to Strabane for a meeting with dissidents.

In his direct evidence last week, Dowdall testified that Hutch told him in a park several days after the Regency attack, in or around February 8 2016, that he and another man had shot Mr Byrne at the hotel.

In his evidence yesterday Dowdall denied he was referring in the audio recording to a bomb going off in a house in Finglas. "It's nonsense, didn't happen and was never going to happen," he said.

"You give an explanation that it was never going to happen but you did say it about a bomb going off in Finglas?" said counsel. "If you say so," replied Dowdall.

Mr Grehan kept pressing, including bringing up Dowdall saying that the IRA would "grab two of the c**** and whack one of them", Dowdall said he was just saying stuff.

Referring to words used by Dowdall in the audio recording, Mr Grehan said the words "whack one of them" is an expression to kill someone and "to plug someone" is the same, to shoot them. "It's hypothetical stuff," replied Dowdall.

During another stage of his cross-examination, Dowdall accused counsel of making him out to be a member of the IRA "for days" and if he was ever in the IRA then the gardai would have known as he was under 24 hour surveillance.

Mr Grehan called this nonsense and asked the witness on "what basis was his house searched on March 9", 2016. Dowdall said his house was raided for firearms and explosives on suspected membership of the IRA. In reply, Mr Grehan said the witness was going on about his house being under surveillance as if it was some kind of alibi for him

Dowdall also said he never planned to give "electrical circuits" to anyone as they never existed, even though the dissident republicans were asking about them for several weeks.

"Isn't that a dangerous thing to be promising something you can't deliver on to the IRA," said Mr Grehan.

Dowdall said he was booked to go away to Dubai. "I wasn't coming home," he added.