Ex-councillor Dowdall did make IRA 'threat' to kill family, court rules
A former Sinn Fein councillor who tortured a convicted fraudster will be sentenced today after a court rejected most of his last-minute objections to evidence in the case.
The Special Criminal Court ruled that, contrary to his claims, Jonathan Dowdall (40) did make a threat to his victim that he was in the IRA and that the man's family would be killed if he went to gardai.
The three-judge court made its decision after Dowdall and his father, Patrick (60), pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning and threatening to kill Alexander Hurley, but then contested some of the evidence.
The judgment came after fresh evidence was given by Mr Hurley and the two accused in a "Newton" hearing aimed at resolving disputed facts.
Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said the court rejected Dowdall's claims that he never told Mr Hurley he was in the IRA and that he never threatened to kill his family. The court also rejected Dowdall's claim that he did not invite Mr Hurley to dinner before he was imprisoned.
It was accepted Dowdall invited Mr Hurley in and, when they got to the front door, Patrick Dowdall ushered the victim into the garage. The judge said the court was not satisfied Dowdall made the first phone call to Mr Hurley the day before his ordeal and gave the defence the "benefit of the doubt" on this.
The court also accepted there was no mention of the UDA in the incident, saying Mr Hurley's evidence was "flawed" on this.
The court judged the victim's ordeal to have lasted around two hours. The prosecution maintained it lasted nearly three hours and the defence estimated 30 minutes to an hour.
A dispute over whether Mr Hurley took Dowdall's motorbike insurance without his permission was not found to be relevant to the construction of a sentence.
Sentencing is due to go ahead this afternoon. The court has heard Mr Hurley was tortured in the Dowdalls' garage at their home on Navan Road, Dublin, on January 15, 2015. Dowdall told the court in evidence he had been "worried sick" Mr Hurley was going to steal his identity and was "genuinely sorry" for what he had done. He said what happened had "ruined" the lives of his family and affected the victim, but added that there was "a lot behind it".
Patrick Dowdall said what happened was not planned and had been a "spur of the moment thing" that got out of hand.
They both gave evidence that there was no mention of the IRA to the victim, as claimed by the prosecution. Mr Hurley gave evidence that Jonathan Dowdall told him "he was part of Sinn Fein and the IRA".
He said Patrick Dowdall "backed up" the statement, saying his son was "a very highly recognised figure".
Mr Hurley admitted he had posed as a barrister but denied he went to Dowdall's house to engage in an act of deception.
"I did not set out with that mindset," he said. "I do 100pc accept that I took wrong turns in earlier life, we all make mistakes, but I did not do that."