Thursday 20 July 2017

Ex-Sinn Féin councillor jailed for 12 years for torturing man in garage

Ex-Sinn Féin man Jonathan Dowdall with Gerry Adams and Mary-Lou McDonald
Ex-Sinn Féin man Jonathan Dowdall with Gerry Adams and Mary-Lou McDonald

Andrew Phelan

A former Sinn Féin councillor who tortured a convicted fraudster in his garage and threatened to chop him up and feed him to dogs has been jailed for 12 years.

Jonathan Dowdall (40) waterboarded the victim and claimed he was in the IRA during a two-hour interrogation.

His father Patrick (60), who threatened to chop off the man's fingers with pliers, was jailed for eight years. The sentences for falsely imprisoning the victim, Alexander Hurley, were handed down at the Special Criminal Court.

Jonathan Dowdall was also given a concurrent four years and his father a concurrent three years in prison for threatening to kill Mr Hurley.

"The injured party was subjected to a horrendous and terrifying ordeal, he endured what can only be described as physical and mental torture at the hands of the Dowdalls," Judge Isobel Kennedy, presiding, said.

The father and son, both of Navan Road, Dublin, pleaded guilty to the charges following the incident at their home on January 15, 2015. Their sentencing had been delayed after they contested some points of evidence at the last minute. That dispute was resolved in an additional hearing.

Judge Kennedy said facilitating an (unidentified) young person in making a video recording was very concerning.

The video which had been played back to the court showed a "truly terrifying ordeal which words could not adequately convey," she said.

That Jonathan Dowdall had said he would upload the video to YouTube if necessary showed his "moral compass is fundamentally skewed".

Judge Kennedy said the court wished to deprecate in "the strongest possible terms" the disputing of evidence of "marginal materiality" which led to the additional hearing.

Putting the victim through the trauma of giving evidence "significantly lessens the credit that would otherwise be given for an already late plea of guilty," Judge Kennedy said.

She then listed aggravating factors: the significant harm caused to the victim; the gratuitous, humiliating and degrading nature of what was done; its prolonged nature; the terror felt by the victim; the use of cable ties and of a cloth and bucket of water; production of pliers in the course of issuing threats; the severe impact on the victim and the recording of the event.

Mitigating factors for Jonathan Dowdall included his apology, lack of relevant previous convictions, his work record and his mental health.

The judge said Patrick Dowdall was receiving a lower sentence due to the lesser nature of his part in the offences. The court heard Jonathan Dowdall believed he was being duped by Mr Hurley over the sale of a motorbike.

He invited Mr Hurley to dinner, but instead he and his father tied him to a swivel chair in the garage. Mr Hurley pleaded for his life as Jonathan Dowdall covered his face with a teacloth and doused his head with water.

Mr Hurley 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", and that his head would be burned at the stake.

"[Jonathan Dowdall] said he was part of Sinn Féin and the IRA," Mr Hurley said. He said Patrick Dowdall claimed his son was "a very highly recognised figure".

Gardaí discovered what the Dowdalls had done a year later when they searched their home for a separate reason and found the video.

Irish Independent

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