Wednesday 16 August 2017

Ex-SF man told torture victim he was in IRA, court rules

Former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall with deputy SF leader Mary Lou McDonald
Former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall with deputy SF leader Mary Lou McDonald

Andrew Phelan

An EX-Sinn Féin councillor who tortured a convicted fraudster in his garage is to be sentenced 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 the man's family would be killed if he went to gardaí.

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 Hurley and the two accused in a 'Newton' hearing aimed at resolving disputed facts.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, presiding, said the court rejected Dowdall's claims he never told Hurley he was in the IRA and he never threatened to kill his family.

The court also rejected Dowdall's claim he did not invite Mr Hurley to dinner before he was imprisoned. It was accepted Dowdall invited Mr Hurley and when they got to the front door, Patrick Dowdall ushered the victim into the garage.

Judge Kennedy said the court was not satisfied Dowdall made the first phone call to Hurley the day before his ordeal and gave the defence the "benefit of the doubt" on this point.

The court also accepted there was no mention of the UDA in the incident, saying 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 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 Hurley was tortured in the Dowdalls' garage at their Navan Road, Dublin, home on January 15, 2015.

Dowdall told the court in evidence he had been "worried sick" Hurley was going to steal his identity in a scam and was "genuinely sorry" for what he had done. He was not in Sinn Féin at the time of the offences.

Disputed evidence that has not been considered relevant by the court is the prosecution's assertion that Hurley was told Jonathan Dowdall was a friend of Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald.

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 there was no mention of the IRA to the victim, as claimed by the prosecution. Mr Hurley gave evidence that Jonathan Dowdall asked him: "Do you know who I am?"

"I said I didn't. I didn't do any research on the individual. He said he was part of Sinn Féin and the IRA."

He said Patrick Dowdall "backed up" the statement, saying his son was "a very highly recognised figure".

Irish Independent

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