This week in the Regency trial was always going to be dramatic as former Sinn Féin councilman Jonathan Dowdall spent five days on the witness stand testifying against Gerry “The Monk” Hutch. During this time we have observed a noticeable change in the behavior of the two men who are the focus of attention.
owdall grew more stressed and argumentative by the day as he battled defense attorney Brendan Grehan – who subjected him to a grueling cross-examination.
The opposite was true of Hutch, the man Dowdall claims was one of the killers of drug dealer David Byrne. When Dowdall finally took the stand Monday morning, there were indications that the inscrutable monk appeared concerned.
Most of the time, Hutch rested his chin on his clasped hands as he sat in the dock, his gaze fixed on his former associate, who testified from the jury box across from the courtroom.
The next day, his attorney informed the court that Hutch would switch places in the dock with his co-defendant so that he could see his accuser better.
Yesterday, Hutch was back in his original place, displaying the aloof demeanor of someone who was no longer overly concerned about what Dowdall was saying about him.
For his part, Dowdall carefully avoided eye contact with Hutch or the rest of the court and faced the three judges, whom he regularly referred to as “Your Honor.”
For the first two days of his testimony, it was often difficult to understand a word the witness said, but that changed markedly when Mr Grehan stood up.
Sometimes the exchange of words between the two men was reminiscent of a cat playing with a mouse. And if Brendan Grehan hoped to excite his prey, he certainly did
Through Friday, Dowdall regularly raised his voice in anger and frustration at the senior counsel. Mr Grehan went on the offensive from the start.
“My position is that you lie to this court and there are two big lies,” he told Dowdall.
The “lies,” he said, were that Gerry Hutch had collected a key card to a room at the Regency Hotel where a member of the kill team, Kevin “Flat Cap” Murray, had stayed the night before the attack.
The other was that a few days later, Hutch Dowdall confessed that he was one of the attackers who shot Byrne along with his partner James ‘Mago’ Gately.
The defense’s strategy is clearly aimed at refuting Dowdall’s claims and portraying him as a lying opportunist trying to frame Gerry Hutch.
Sometimes the exchange of words between the two men was reminiscent of a cat playing with a mouse. And if Brendan Grehan hoped to excite his prey, he certainly did.
He refined Dowdall’s commentary during 10 hours of secretly recorded conversations between him and Hutch as they traveled to Strabane on March 7, 2016. The purpose of the trip was to meet with so-called commanders of a Republican gang of dissidents to ask them to intervene in the Kinahan/Hutch feud.
Dowdall’s denial that he was involved in murder or telling lies became his mantra. He claimed Gerry Hutch and his brother Patsy tricked him by implicating him in the Regency attack.
But his words kept coming back to haunt him, including comments about a gun attack on his uncle’s home a few years ago.
Yesterday he denied being involved in the shooting and told Grehan he was unwilling to discuss the incident on Hutch’s behalf.
He then said he spoke to the Gardaí about it and representatives from Sinn Féin interviewed him about it. They are “fully aware of the background” and are convinced that he is not responsible.
During his cross-examination, the former protégé of Mary Lou McDonald tried to dismiss the recorded comments that made him look bad as a “showoff” and claimed that one of his weaknesses was a tendency to fill the silence by talking “garbage”. .
In recent days, exchanges between Mr Grehan and the state witness have become increasingly sensitive as excerpts of Dowdall’s interviews with Gardaí were played when he was arrested in connection with the Regency attack in May 2016. In the interviews, the former close friend of The Hutch Clan admitted that he told detectives lies because he couldn’t tell the truth about what he knew for fear of the consequences.
During a tense exchange on Friday, Dowdall erupted in desperation when he claimed Hutch was responsible for “terrorizing” his family over his decision to testify in exchange for having a murder charge dropped against him.
His 62-year-old mother has received death threats from people “to whom she had been friendly as children”.
This weekend will probably be a welcome change for the former Sinn Féin member. His interrogation is scheduled to resume on Monday and may last up to three more days.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/weekend-brings-welcome-respite-for-jonathan-dowdall-while-gerry-hutch-looks-relaxed-during-regency-trial-42226195.html The weekend brings a welcome respite for Jonathan Dowdall while Gerry Hutch looks relaxed during the Regency trial