herald

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Ex-SF councillor was nabbed by kidnap video on his mobile phone

Gardai seize vehicles from Jonathan Dowdall during a raid on his home
Gardai seize vehicles from Jonathan Dowdall during a raid on his home

A former Sinn Fein councillor, whose home was raided by detectives investigating the Regency Hotel bloodbath, was charged with separate offences after officers discovered an incriminating video on his phone.

Jonathan Dowdall (38) and his father Patrick Dowdall (59) yesterday pleaded guilty at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin to falsely imprisoning and threatening to kill another man.

Jonathan, who is a pal of a number of associates of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, previously went on RTE's Liveline show to deny any involvement in crime after gardai raided his home.

While no evidence of their crimes was given in court yesterday, the Herald can reveal that the father and son were nabbed after a video was found on Jonathan's seized phone.

His mobile phone was taken in the raid at his home by armed officers investigating the Regency Hotel gun attack on February 11 last year, when the Hutch mob attacked the Kinahan cartel and gangland figure David Byrne (33) was shot dead.

Two of his associates were also seriously injured.

However, while Jonathan has never been charged in relation to the Regency attack, officers from the Special Detective Unit (SDU) were able to charge him with the other offences after analysing his phone and gathering other evidence.

Jonathan, of Navan Road, Dublin 7, and Patrick Dowdall, of the same address, both admitted to falsely imprisoning Alexander Hurley by detaining him without his consent at Navan Road on January 15, 2015.

Both men also pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Mr Hurley at the same place on the same date. The incident is not linked to the capital's Hutch-Kinahan feud.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, presiding at the three-judge, non-jury court, remanded the men in custody until April 28, when they will be sentenced.

Michael O'Higgins, for Jonathan, said that a psychological report would be prepared on behalf of his client.

Members of the Garda water unit outside the home of Jonathan Dowdall
Members of the Garda water unit outside the home of Jonathan Dowdall

Vincent Heneghan, for the State, said the DPP would be seeking a victim impact statement.

Threat

Jonathan has been in jail since being arrested as he tried to leave the country on May 17 last year. That was less than four days after he was officially warned by gardai about a threat against his life.

The threat came from the deadly Kinahan cartel, which has been feuding with the Hutch faction.

The former politician's phone was seized during the high-profile raid by armed gardai on his north Dublin home on March 10 last year.

The property was searched for firearms and explosives by the SDU over 24 hours under a garda warrant.

Jonathan Dowdall
Jonathan Dowdall

A BMW car worth €85,000, a high-powered motorbike, documentation and other valuables were taken by officers.

Members of the Garda Water Unit were also called in to search a large aquarium, thought to be worth "tens of thousands of euro", in the shed of the property.

Jonathan, who is an electrical contractor with no previous convictions, previously spoke to Joe Duffy's Liveline radio show in the aftermath of the search operation at his home.

He said he was as surprised as anyone to see armed garda units pulling up outside his home on the morning of the raid.

He said he managed to open the door "just in time to stop them bursting through".

"I wasn't cautioned or arrested at any point, and I've no idea what it was in relation to," he said.

Mr Dowdall said that between 10 and 15 armed gardai searched his home and took away vehicles and other items.

"I like cars since I was a child… to this day I'm still breaking my arse to pay for that car… I've a loan for it like everyone else in the country," he said when asked about the seized BMW.

"I've got papers for all the cars… and I've up-to-date tax clearance."

Denying any connections to "criminality or any crime organisation", Dowdall said if he had any links to crime, "it would have come out during the election".

Association

He also admitted knowing people who are related to Gerry Hutch, many of whom have no links to crime.

"You know how the inner city works, everyone knows everyone… some of them I'm proud to know, and there's plenty others I've never met," he said when queried about his association with the Hutch family.

"Just because someone has the name Hutch doesn't mean anything. Patrick Hutch is the father and has been a good friend of mine since I was a child.

"It's been in the media all along that this man has no involvement in crime.

"I know that man, that man is a friend of mine. This [raid] is probably linked to that."

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