herald

Monday 25 September 2017

'We'll chop you up and feed you to the dogs' - ex-councillor's threat

The garda raid at the home of the Dowdalls in March last year which led to officers finding
the video footage
The garda raid at the home of the Dowdalls in March last year which led to officers finding the video footage

A former Sinn Fein councillor tied up a convicted fraudster, tortured him with water, threatened to chop him up and feed him to dogs, and to burn his head at the stake.

Jonathan Dowdall (40) believed he was being "duped" over the sale of a motorbike when he researched Alexander Hurley on the internet and came across a series of scamming allegations against him.

At one point, Mr Hurley was told he was a "stupid dumb f**k to mess with the head of the IRA" and that Dowdall was a friend of Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald.

He was also told to get out of Dublin.

Dowdall had invited Mr Hurley to dinner, but instead he and his father, Patrick Dowdall (60), imprisoned him in the garage for three hours and tried to force a confession out of him.

Harrowing

The victim, who has prior fraud convictions, pleaded for his life as Jonathan Dowdall covered his face with a cloth and doused his head with water, while Patrick Dowdall threatened to cut his fingers off with pliers.

The pair let him go and gardai only discovered what they had done when they searched the Dowdalls' Dublin home for an unrelated reason and found a video of the incident.

The Special Criminal Court was shown the "grim and harrowing" footage of Mr Hurley's interrogation in a sentencing hearing yesterday.

The father and son, both of Navan Road, Dublin 7, pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning Mr Hurley on January 15, 2015.

Both men also admitted threatening to kill Mr Hurley.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said the three-judge court wished to reflect before deciding on sentences and adjourned the case to May 19.

Detective Inspector William Hanrahan said gardai searched the Dowdalls' home on March 9, 2016, "in relation to another matter" when they found a USB stick with the videos.

Mr Hurley was found and interviewed. He told gardai that Jonathan Dowdall had put a BMW motorbike up for sale online and he had contacted him to buy it.

Three days later, he went to Dowdall's home to see the bike. He told Dowdall he was getting loans for the purchase.

He later got a phone call inviting him to dinner on January 15. He went and was greeted by Patrick Dowdall.

He was pushed into the garage, backed into a swivel chair, bound with white cable ties around his chest and legs and told he was a "lying b***ard from the sewer".

"If you want to get out of here alive you'd better tell Jonathan what he wants," Patrick Dowdall told him.

He was in shock and was told there was no point in screaming as the garage was soundproof.

Another unidentified man was present.

He heard someone saying they would "feed him to dogs, chop him up, place him in cellophane bags and store him in the boot of a BMW" if he did not tell the truth.

Jonathan Dowdall, wearing a balaclava, told him he was a thief, who had tried to steal a car from a person. Mr Hurley denied this. A girl was at the door with a bucket of water and a tea towel, Mr Hurley's statement continued.

Jonathan Dowdall placed the towel over his head and poured a full bucket of water over him.

He told gardai he could not breathe, he thought he was being drowned and it went on for four to five minutes. This was then done a second time.

Mr Hurley said he was told he would be fed to Dobermans, chopped up, brought to Tyrone, and part of him would be buried in the mountains and his head would be burned at the stake.

Mr Hurley was told his family members would be pursued and would be dead within 48 hours of his disappearance. The girl was filming on an iPhone.

Mr Hurley told gardai he did not understand why it was happening.

At one stage, Patrick Dowdall pulled out some silver pliers and said he would chop his fingers off, starting with his little finger.

The ordeal ended at 10.45pm.

The video, in three clips, was then shown to the court.

In the footage, Mr Hurley could be seen and heard begging "please don't hurt me" as he was doused with water and repeatedly asked what he was doing with Jonathan Dowdall's bank details.

He was questioned about "robbing" people and accused of being a "lying, conning scammer" as his head was shaved with an electric razor.

Heinous

In a victim impact statement, Mr Hurley said what happened "can only be described as a brutal and heinous act of crime".

He said Jonathan Dowdall "proceeded to torture me to the point of death's door" and that his psychological injuries would never heal.

Jonathan Dowdall maintained Mr Hurley had pretended he was a barrister and another man who was selling a motorbike said the same thing.

Michael O'Higgins, counsel for Jonathan Dowdall, a father-of-four, said the accused apologised and his actions had been unacceptable, notwithstanding any perceived grievance.

Patrick Dowdall, also a father-of-four, apologised unreservedly, his barrister Michael Bowman said.

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