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Friday 14 December 2018

'I'm shocked by cut in torturers' jail terms', says Dowdall victim

Jonathan Dowdall (top) and Alex Hurley (below)
Jonathan Dowdall (top) and Alex Hurley (below)

A man who was tortured by former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall has said he thought he was going to die during the terrifying attack.

Jonathan Dowdall (39) and his father Patrick Dowdall (61) both admitted falsely imprisoning Alexander Hurley and threatening to kill him at Jonathan's home on January 15, 2015.

Footage recorded on a mobile phone was shown to the court of Jonathan Dowdall wearing a balaclava and holding a tea towel to Mr Hurley's face before pouring water over his head, in what is commonly known as waterboarding.

Patrick Dowdall was heard threatening to pull off his fingers one by one with pliers.

Jonathan Dowdall was sentenced to 12 years in jail and Patrick Dowdall to eight years.

The father and son had their jail terms cut on Monday, with the Court of Appeal resentencing Jonathan Dowdall to 10 years with the final 25 months suspended and Patrick Dowdall to seven with the final three years suspended.

Waterboarded

Mr Hurley revealed yesterday on RTE's Liveline that he was "surprised" and "shocked" by the appeal.

"I was a bit surprised in one sense, but in another sense I knew it could possibly happen," he said.

"I don't agree with it [the sentence reduction]. The offence was totally unacceptable. The punishment was correct. I didn't think it would be reduced to that extent. I'm shocked.

"You just have to accept it and move on."

Mr Hurley said that once the trial was over, he "shifted his mindset to rebuilding his life".

"You have to try and pick yourself up... You have to dig deep and remain positive. Physical wounds will always heal quite quickly but the psychological issue isn't easy."

He described how he was tied to a swivel chair, threatened and waterboarded. "I was in shock and terror," he added.

"They shaved my head with an electric razor too. It was obviously a part of their torture that they wished to inflict.

"They said 'you're not going anywhere. You're not leaving alive'. At that stage I thought, "that's it, I'm dead'."

Mr Hurley said the Jonathan Dowdall made references to Sinn Fein during the attack and said "he was involved in the IRA".

He said that when he was let go, he was told there were "terms and conditions attached".

"They told me to leave Dublin and never return. There were also threats against me and my family if the conditions were breached," he explained.

"A third person filmed the attack. It was said that the video would be played on YouTube if the terms were breached too."

Mr Hurley said it was difficult being portrayed as a "criminal" himself during the court proceedings.

Trap

"It is definitely not true. I had admitted that I had made some mistakes in the past. They were dealt with accordingly. People make mistakes and you learn from them and move on," he said.

He recalled how he came into contact with Jonathan Dowdall after the former Sinn Fein councillor advertised a €16,000 BMW motorcycle on Done Deal.

Following an initial viewing of the bike at the Dowdall house on January 12, 2015, he was given a bank account to transfer the money to. Shortly after, Mr Hurley received a phone call inviting him to dinner.

"They said they enjoyed my company. I said I would accept and after arriving that's when it all changed and turned into a nightmare. It was a trap."

He said he didn't go to gardai because of the threats against him and his family.

The incident came to light when officers searching Jonathan Dowdall's home as part of another investigation discovered a USB flash drive containing footage of the torture.

"I realised I was lucky to be alive," added Mr Hurley.

"You find inner strength that you don't know that you have. You realise that you are one of the lucky ones that you survived the ordeal. I kept in the mindset that if I uphold the terms they would have no reason to come near me."

Mr Hurley said he would like a written apology from Jonathan Dowdall.

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