Gerry Hutch and Jonathan Dowdall face off in court

State witness Jonathan Dowdall must feel the day dawning and he must now weigh heavily as he contemplates what comes next.

he former Sinn Féin councilor once faced the same high stakes as Gerry “The Monk” Hutch, a life sentence if convicted of murder, but with a handful of cards he changed his fortunes and stood as a witness instead against his former friend.

And now comes the day, the day he faces Hutch in the Special Trials Court and reveals how he was tricked and used by the seasoned gangster and that The Monk is a murderer.

Jonathan Dowdall’s testimony was highly anticipated and is seen as the highlight of the case by both the media and the public that gathers in court every day.

In such unusual circumstances, we have already heard the bond they shared in 2016 when they traveled together to Northern Ireland, where the state, the monk said, was hoping to meet paramilitaries who could negotiate a peace deal between his clan and the Kinahans.


Robbers dressed as Garda and armed with AK47 assault rifles enter the front door of The Regency Hotel

The tapes, admitted into evidence this week after review by Justice Tara Burns and fellow Justices Sarah Berkeley and Justices Grainne Malone, show a amicable relationship between the two, who laugh and joke while discussing matters as disparate as the shooting at the Regency Hotel discuss to the singer Imelda May.

But now Dowdall’s pleasantries, apprehension and groveling are over, because when he takes the stand – later this week – he will be a man on a mission hell-bent on explaining in detail what he is saying the truth of the conspiracy and planning by Hutch and his associates of cold-blooded and brutal murder.

After the legal issues surrounding the tapes are resolved, the trial is expected to move to Dowdall and the evidence the state hopes it will swear.

It is likely that his remarkable transformation from murder charged to state witness will be dismantled by the defense led by Brendan Grehan SC.

Why Dowdall suddenly felt the urge to speak his truth years after the murder of David Byrne – when he himself faced life in prison – will surely be a big part of the opening days of next week’s hearing.

The often discussed status of the witness protection program could also be addressed in the days leading up to Dowdall’s testimony.


David Byrne was gunned down

In Ireland, the program continues, unregulated by law, in the same “arbitrary” form that Judge McCracken criticized during the appeal of Paul Ward’s murder conviction, saying there were no clear guidelines as to what the witnesses were for would get court appearances.

Dowdall’s arrest and his journey from accused to state witness will likely be scrutinized in detail later this week before he can begin his testimony.

But if he does, the courts will likely not only be heavily monitored, but filled with people hoping to snag a seat for the occasion.

In previous high-profile trials, members of the public have queued to get into courts open to spectators.

Given the size of the special criminal courts, these seats will be limited and already occupied by media representatives reporting on the historic trial.

One person sure to have front row seats is The Monk, who along with fellow defendants Jason Bonney and Paul Murphy will be present at every word of Dowdall’s evidence – and indeed his cross-examination, which can last for days.

Only three weeks until the Christmas break, which will end the lengthy process if it continues until December 23rd.

At this point, once Dowdall has finished his testimony, he could begin his move under the witness protection program with a new identity for himself and his extended family, who have also been placed into it.

But in a process of many twists and turns, each day can bring its own surprises.

The process goes on. Gerry Hutch and Jonathan Dowdall face off in court

Fry Electronics Team

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