Jonathan Dowdall to give evidence in Regency trial on Monday

The former Sinn Féin councillor had been expected to give evidence this week
Jonathan Dowdall to give evidence in Regency trial on Monday

Alison O'Riordan

Jonathan Dowdall, a former co-accused of Gerard 'The Monk' Hutch who has turned State's witness, will "finally" give evidence in the Regency Hotel murder trial on Monday, despite the status of his Witness Protection Programme application remaining unknown, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

After the non-jury court was told on Friday that a decision on Dowdall's status within the Witness Protection Programme (WPP) would not be made until the middle of January next year, Mr Hutch's barrister Brendan Grehan SC said his client was "anxious" that his trial proceed as he was not at all convinced about the timetable suggested or that it would necessarily "yield any fruit".

Before Dowdall takes the stand on Monday, a Detective Superintendent will give evidence that the former Sinn Féin councillor's admittance into the WPP is "separate and distinct and not tied in any way to his performance in the witness box".

Mr Hutch (59), last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, denies the murder of Kinahan Cartel member David Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5th, 2016.

On Thursday, judges at the non-jury court trial of Mr Hutch ruled that the evidence to be given by the former Dublin City councillor was admissible in the trial, despite defence objections.

Dowdall intends to give evidence implicating Mr Hutch in the murder at the Regency Hotel. The former electrician has already been sentenced to four years by the three-judge court for the lesser offence of facilitating the murder of Mr Byrne, and is being assessed for the WPP when he gets out of prison.

Defence counsel Mr Grehan has outlined there are two pillars of Dowdall's proposed evidence against his client, namely the handing over of the hotel key cards for a room in the Regency Hotel and "an alleged conversation" with Mr Hutch that took place in a park a number of days after the shooting.

It was in this conversation that Dowdall says the accused confessed his direct involvement in the murder of Mr Bryne to him, the barrister said.

Shooting

At the opening of the trial, Mr Gillane said the State's case was that Mr Hutch had contacted Dowdall and arranged to meet him days after the shooting. Mr Gillane said the evidence would be that Mr Hutch told Dowdall that he was "one of the team" that murdered Mr Byrne at the Regency Hotel in 2016.

Jonathan Dowdall (44) - a married father of four with an address at Navan Road, Cabra, Dublin 7 - was due to stand trial for Mr Byrne's murder alongside Mr Hutch but pleaded guilty in advance of the trial to a lesser charge of facilitating the Hutch gang by making a hotel room available ahead of the murder.

Dowdall has been jailed by the Special Criminal Court for four years for facilitating the Hutch gang in the notorious murder of Mr Byrne.

His father Patrick was jailed for two years before the Regency trial started after he also admitted his part in booking a room for the raiders.

Mr Byrne, from Crumlin, was shot dead at the hotel in Whitehall, Dublin 9 after five men, three disguised as armed gardaí in tactical clothing and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, stormed the building during the attack, which was hosting a boxing weigh-in at the time.

Mr Hutch's two co-accused - Paul Murphy (61), of Cherry Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin, and Jason Bonney (50), of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, Dublin 13, have pleaded not guilty to participating in or contributing to the murder of Mr Byrne by providing access to motor vehicles on February 5th, 2016.

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