Jonathan Dowdall, once a protégé of Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, faced the Special Criminal Court yesterday where he admitted abetting a murder that sparked a gang feud.
The ex-councillor and his father Patrick have pleaded guilty to helping a crime gang fatally shoot a rival criminal at Dublin’s Regency Hotel more than six years ago.
The pair are the first to be convicted in the murder investigation, and now face up to 15 years in prison – a place they already know all too well.
2014 was going well for Jonathan Dowdall. The electrical company he had started seven years earlier was profitable and getting jobs across Ireland, while he was running successfully for a seat on Dublin City Council that summer. But his impressive rise within Sinn Féin did not last, and within a year he had vacated his council seat and left the party.
At the time, Ms McDonald said they accepted his decision “with great regret” and described him as a “very well loved and respected member” of his community.
Over time, Dowdall showed his true colors. In January 2015, he took part in the barbaric torture of a man he believed was plotting to scam him into a motorcycle deal.
The victim, Alexander Hurley, a convicted fraudster, pleaded for his life during the two-hour ordeal when Jonathan Dowdall waterboarded him while claiming he was with the IRA.
Patrick Dowdall threatened to cut off Hurley’s fingers with pliers.
The crime went undetected for more than a year until another brazen crime would help uncover it.
On February 5, 2016, just after 2pm, five armed men stormed a boxing scale at the Regency Hotel on Swords Road in Whitehall, Dublin.
The hit team’s intended target, mob boss Daniel Kinahan, escaped and three men were shot dead during the shootout. One of them – David Byrne, a Kinahan employee – was killed.
The meticulously planned shootout, which involved fake Garda uniforms and a gunman dressed in women’s clothing, ultimately failed and would ignite a gangland feud that claimed 18 lives.
The Garda investigation immediately focused on the involvement of the Hutch crime group and detectives conducted a series of raids across Dublin over a period of several weeks.
On March 11, the intelligence gardaí obtained led them to search Dowdall’s home on Navan Road. His €80,000 BMW car was confiscated along with a motorcycle, paperwork and electronics while a large aquarium in a garden shed was searched by Garda divers.
In an interview on RTÉ Radio 1 live line The next day, Jonathan Dowdall told host Joe Duffy he was “surprised” by the Garda raid and claimed he didn’t know what it was about.
He also strenuously denied any connection to “crime or any criminal organization,” adding that he was “proud to know some members of the Hutch family.”
Footage discovered on confiscated electronic equipment would lead to exposure of Alexander Hurley’s torture.
Jonathan Dowdall and his father were charged with the crime and later sentenced by the Special Criminal Court after appeals to eight and four years in prison, respectively.
Whilst incarcerated in Wheatfield Prison, the investigation into the Regency murder at Ballymun Garda Ward continued with a view to bringing prosecution.
Last year the father and son were brought before a non-jury as part of the murder investigation.
On April 20, Patrick Dowdall was charged with facilitating the murder of David Byrne by providing a room for the criminal organization involved in the murder a day before the fatal shooting.
A week later, his son appeared before the three-judge court after being charged with the murder of David Byrne. In the past 17 months, Jonathan Dowdall had made multiple attempts to have the trial dropped or the charges dropped.
This included challenging the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court and trying to argue that he should be allowed to petition to have the charges against him dismissed on the basis of insufficient evidence.
Similar and equally unsuccessful requests have been made by Gerry “The Monk” Hutch, who is due to stand trial on murder charges next week. Two other men are also accused of being an accessory to murder.
Jonathan and Patrick Dowdall appeared in court again yesterday to admit their guilt in connection with the gang killing. They replied “guilty” when charged with complicity in the murder of David Byrne by providing a hotel room for the criminal organization involved.
Both were remanded in custody on bail – Jonathan was led out through a secure entrance by Gardaí. He will be sentenced on Monday.
Afterwards, Mary Lou McDonald said she welcomed her former party colleague’s admission of guilt to a “heinous and disgusting” crime. Praising Gardaí, she said they had their “unwavering support in fighting the scourge of organized crime gangs in my constituency”.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/how-one-time-sinn-fein-darling-jonathan-dowdall-ended-up-facing-15-years-for-facilitating-regency-hotel-murder-42025248.html How one-time Sinn Féin darling Jonathan Dowdall finally faced 15 years in prison for abetting the Regency Hotel murder