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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Paul Healy

State witness Jonathan Dowdall tells Regency trial he's 'not a rat' and doesn't care if he gets killed

State witness Jonathan Dowdall has said he doesn’t care if he gets killed and has insisted: ”I’m not a rat.”

Mr Dowdall, 44, made the shocking claim towards the end of him being cross-examined by Brendan Grehan SC, defending for Hutch, on Wednesday evening.

“I don’t care if I’m killed,” Dowdall told a stunned courtroom.

“Nobody will touch my children.”

Dowdall was giving evidence on what is the second day of him being cross-examined by Hutch’s legal counsel and the 32nd day of the Special Criminal Court trial of Gerry Hutch for the murder of David Byrne in Dublin’s Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016.

The former Sinn Fein councillor was directly challenged a number of times about whether he only spoke to gardai because he wanted a murder charge against him dropped.

And, after a lengthy, and sometimes lively exchange between the two men before Ms Justice Tara Burns, Dowdall became animated and insisted at length that he was telling the truth.

Jonathan Dowdall (file photo) (Collins)

He insisted: “I’m not a rat,” and repeated what he said throughout the day that his speaking now was “nothing to do with me getting a murder charge dropped.”

He insisted that Gerry Hutch “was the one who got the cards,” referring to the hotel key cards from the Regency that he says were handed to the accused the day before the attack.

And he again doubled down that “I met Gerard in the park,” in reference to his key claim that he met the accused in a park in Whitehall after the Regency and that he confessed to him.

He insisted that that was the “gospel honest truth.”

Dowdall stunned the courtroom when he said all of this towards the end of the day, adding that he wanted to apologise to the family of the victim - David Byrne.

“I’m sorry for what happened to David Byrne and that family. And I’m sorry for what I said to offend that family. But I wasn’t involved in that murder,” he insisted.

He then went on to explain why he agreed to help the accused’s brother Patsy to try and end the feud in January 2016 saying he “trusted” him at the time because they had built up a rapport over the years.

He then said that Patsy Hutch, who is not before the courts, “was involved in it” and said that “if down the road I’m required to come into this court and give evidence against Patsy in the same way that I’ve given evidence against Gerard, I will do that.”

Those comments came after a bombshell claim by Dowdall earlier in the day that Gerry Hutch was “willing to throw his own brother under the bus.”

He said this after the Defence put it to him that throughout his entire account it was “Patsy, Patsy, Patsy,” and he only later inserted Gerry Hutch into the narrative when it was convenient - when he wanted the murder charge dropped.

In response to that Dowdall said that the “Hutches are willing to throw someone else under the bus.

“Your client is willing to throw his own brother under the bus.”

Dowdall, dressed in a dark-coloured suit and white shirt, again sat in a section of the court typically reserved for a jury - and on the opposite side to the accused who was wearing a green-coloured jumper.

Throughout Wednesday Mr Dowdall was grilled by Brendan Grehan about how and when he met his republican contacts who he claimed would help resolve the Kinahan Hutch feud.

And at one point the bombshell revelation emerged from Mr Grehan that Dowdall had visited Garda killer Pearse McAuley in prison 14 times - including two days after the murder of Gary Hutch in Spain in September 2015.

McAuley served a lengthy sentence in prison for the murder of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in 1996.

Dowdall had claimed before the court that he had met Mr McAuley in Castlerea Prison “two or three times,” but Mr Grehan said he had a record and read out to him the 14 occasions he visited.

At this point Mr Dowdall became quite irate and responded to the senior defence counsel by asking if it was a crime for him to visit someone in prison.

Mr Grehan said that it was not, but said that it was a crime to “lie on oath.”

“It’s a crime to say you weren’t friendly with him. It’s a crime to say you only visited him two or three times when you know full well that wasn’t the truth.”

After a short break Dowdall returned to the courtroom with a coffee cup in hand and said that if the record shows he visited McAuley in prison 14 times, then he must have - but he couldn’t remember.

Mr Grehan said he had a record which showed that Dowdall visited McAuley in prison two days after the murder of Gary Hutch - yet Dowdall couldn’t remember that.

He asked then how is it that Dowdall’s memory of exactly what Gerry Hutch was wearing on the day he says he met him in the park months later was so fresh.

The witness said he could remember that because it was “a very significant day.”

He said he remembered Hutch was wearing what he described as a “waxy coloured, dark coloured jacket.”

Mr Grehan put it to him that that wasn’t a colour, to which Dowdall then clarified that he remembered it as a dark green.

Spending a bit of time on the Pearse McAuley visits, Mr Grehan said he wanted to know what kind of conversations Dowdall was having with the convicted killer.

It was then that the witness told the court that he met with him in the days following the gangland murder of Gary Hutch to tell him that he needed to speak to republican contacts to try and stop the feud.

He said that he told McAuley that Patsy Hutch was being targeted to be murdered and that his son Patrick Jr was being “blamed for something he didn’t do.”

In response to that he says the prisoner urged him not to get involved and to “leave them” - advice he didn’t follow because he went up north to try and meet republicans to stop the feud.

In trying to establish how and when Dowdall made contact with his republican contacts Mr Grehan also asked him about an occasion where RIRA mob boss Alan Ryan paid a visit to his home.

Dowdall agreed with Mr Grehan that Ryan and a number of “heavies” called to his door - but he became quite reluctant to explain why.

“It’s not every day that the Real IRA make a house call,” Mr Grehan responded.

The witness was pressed a number of times as to why Alan Ryan had called to his home, but he said he wasn’t prepared to say, and when he continued to be pressed he claimed:

“You’re putting me on trial over stuff here.”

During this part of the cross-examination Dowdall insisted multiple times that he “wasn’t involved” with dissident republicans and he wasn’t a member of any dissident group.

Despite that the court heard that for a period of time he was admitted to a republican landing in Portlaoise Prison - only to be booted off it when he was connected to the Regency incident.

Dowdall was also challenged on the fact that it seemed to be easy for him to contact people in the IRA - but he responded by saying the accused man Gerry Hutch was more than capable of that.

He said Hutch was “well able” to do this, “yet I was sent up north like a gilly.”

Meanwhile he said unbeknownst to him, the Regency Hotel attack was being planned at the same time.

At the beginning of the day before Dowdall was even called into the room, the court was informed by Prosecuting Counsel Sean Gillane SC of a development he’d been made aware of.

Mr Gillane told Ms Justice Tara Burns presiding that he’d been made aware that videos were circulating which appear to be of the court proceedings - and they appear to have been filmed from the overflow court.

Judge Burns said she was “surprised” to hear of this, and said she wanted to remind everyone that it is considered a criminal offence to film court proceedings.

She said that if anyone from the overflow court see’s anything of this nature going forward that they immediately come into court and inform her.

“I will not preside over a trial where anything of that nature occurs,” she said.


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