Monday 20 November 2017

Former SF councillor was filmed torturing fraudster

Jonathan Dowdall: poured water over victim's head
Jonathan Dowdall: poured water over victim's head

Andrew Phelan

A former Sinn Féin councillor tied up a convicted fraudster in his garage, "tortured" him with water, and threatened to chop him up, feed him to dogs and burn his head at the stake.

Jonathan Dowdall (40) believed he was being "duped" over the sale of a motorbike when he researched the man on the internet and came across a series of scamming allegations against him.

He invited the man to dinner, but instead he and his father Patrick Dowdall (60) imprisoned him in the garage for three hours and tried to force a confession out of him.

The victim, Alexander Hurley, has prior fraud convictions. He 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 a pliers.

The pair let him go and gardaí only discovered what they had done when they searched the Dowdalls' home for a separate reason and found a video of the incident.


The Special Criminal Court was shown the "grim and harrowing" footage of Mr Hurley's interrogation.

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

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said the three-judge court wished to reflect before deciding on sentences and adjourned the case to May 19.

Detective Inspector William Hanrahan said gardaí searched the Dowdalls' home on March 9 2016 "in relation to another matter" when they found a USB stick with the videos.

Mr Hurley was found and told gardaí he had agreed to buy a motorbike Jonathan Dowdall had put up for sale online.

When he arrived at the house on January 15, he was pushed into the garage, backed into a swivel chair, and bound at the chest and legs with cable ties.

The accused and a third unidentified man were there.

He 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" if he did not "tell the truth".

Jonathan Dowdall, wearing a balaclava, placed a tea towel over Mr Hurley's head and poured a full bucket of water over him.

He could not breathe and thought he was being drowned.

He said he was told he would be fed to Dobermans, chopped up, brought to Tyrone, part of him would be buried in the mountains and his head would be burned at the stake.

He was told he was a "stupid dumb f*** to mess with the head of the IRA" and that Jonathan Dowdall was a friend of Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald. He was told to get out of Dublin.

A girl was filming on an iPhone.

In the footage, Mr Hurley could be heard begging "please don't hurt me". He was repeatedly asked what he was doing with Jonathan Dowdall's bank details.

Mr Hurley said he had been tortured "to the point of death's door" and that his psychological injuries would never heal.

The court heard Jonathan Dowdall maintained Mr Hurley had pretended he was a barrister.

Both accused apologised "unreservedly" for their actions.

In a press statement, Mary Lou McDonald said Dowdall left Sinn Féin some years ago.

"He subsequently worked with, and supported, a political opponent of Sinn Féin in the Dublin Central Constituency," she added.

Irish Independent

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