Thursday 19 April 2018

Former councillor now denies telling torture victim he was in the IRA or a friend of Gerry Adams or Mary Lou

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

Andrew Phelan

A FORMER Sinn Fein councillor who tortured a man in his garage and threatened to chop him up and feed him to the dogs has now denied he ever told the victim that he was in the IRA or a friend of Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald.

Jonathan Dowdall (40) is insisting some of the evidence against him is wrong, that his false imprisonment of the victim did not last for three hours, that he never threatened his family and did not mention the two Sinn Fein politicians to him.

He made the claims through his lawyer just before he was due to be sentenced at the Special Criminal Court today.

Evidence and mitigation had already been heard earlier this month.

Micahel O’Higgins SC, defending, asked for a new hearing to be held if the disputed evidence is going to add to Dowdall’s sentence.

Prosecutor Vincent Heneghan SC said it was "far too late" and asked the court to proceed.

Mary Lou McDonald with Jonathan Dowdall
Mary Lou McDonald with Jonathan Dowdall

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy halted sentencing and adjourned the case for further submissions on May 30.

Dowdall was remanded in custody along with his father Patrick (40), who is also facing sentence for his part in the crime, and who is making the same claims about the evidence.

Previously, the court heard Jonathan Dowdall suspected convicted fraudster Alexander Hurley of conning him over a motorbike sale when he invited him to his Dublin home for dinner invitation before tying him up and waterboarding him.

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

The court heard Mr Hurley 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 a separate reason and found a video of the incident.

Gardai seize vehicles from Jonathan Dowdall during a raid on his home
Gardai seize vehicles from Jonathan Dowdall during a raid on his home

Read More: 'At that stage I thought, "that's it… I'm dead"' - man tortured and waterboarded by Dowdall and father speaks

Today, Mr O’Higgins said he had strict instructions to bring certain matters to the court’s attention.

He said the thrust of his plea had been that the accused was wrong in what he did, but he did not accept some aspects of the evidence given at the earlier hearing.

The first was the evidence that he had invited the victim to dinner - Dowdall would say the call was “the other way around,” that he received the call and there was no invitation to dinner.

Rather, Mr Hurley was going to come to the house with a receipt proving monies had been transferred over.

There was an e-mail received from him indicating that the funding had been transferred, Mr O’Higgins continued.

It was not accepted that the “extremely difficult ordeal” that the victim suffered went on for hours.

There were references to him having a position in the IRA and that he was friends with Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald, and these were not accepted.

When Mr Hurley arrived on the first occasion, he tried on the clothes and when he left the house, an insurance policy for the bike was take, Mr O’Higgins said.

It was also suggested that his client threatened the injured party’s family, and Mr O’Higgins was “under strict instruction that that did not happen.”

He would “never contemplate making such a threat” as Mr Hurley’s family had never done anything to him.

Read More: Former SF councillor was filmed torturing fraudster

Mr O’Higgins said he also wished to bring to the court’s attention that there was a new LinkedIn profile for Mr Hurley in which he appears to describe himself as a medical doctor and an A&E general medical consultant.

This ID was loaded in the recent past, he said.

Mr O’Higgins said the victim had given media interviews in which he described himself as an accountant. He also referred to allegations surrounding the purchase of two cars.

He told the court the LinkedIn profile may ultimately not be relevant.

“The concern arises that if the matters I have highlighted were matters that were feeding into how a sentence was constructed he would wish to place on record his views,” Mr O’Higgins said.

“If the court is of the view that a conflict exists, regrettably I would have to ask that there be a hearing of it.”

A new hearing was sought only if the matters he raised were at the core of sentencing, he said.

He said it was a matter he wanted to avoid at all costs. He was not getting away from the fact that what was done was wrong but there were “certain aspects that were not accepted.”

Mr O’Higgins was concerned if aspects of what the injured party said were to be used against Dowdall as an aggravating factor in circumstances where he disputed them, and where to add to his sentence.

He said the submission was unpalatable but the injured party “does have previous convictions for dishonesty.”

A barrister for Patrick Dowdall said he did not have anything to add to Mr O’Higgins’ submissions.

Vincent Heneghan SC, prosecuting, said the State had relied on the book of evidence, which was “long served” on the accused and the evidence had not been contested during the sentencing hearing.

The mention of the IRA was part of the book of evidence, he said.

Mr Heneghan said it was “far too late” for a new hearing. The court had heard the relevant evidence and the issues surrounding it were irrelevant to the court’s decision.

A fulsome and proper plea of mitigation had been presented, he said.

The three hour duration of the imprisonment was “not a slight issue, it’s a significant issue that will be front and centre,” he said.

Judge Kennedy said that in light of the submissions, the court would not proceed to sentence and adjourned the case for further submissions on “the appropriateness of a new hearing.”

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