Dowdall denies being friends with Gerry Adams or Mary Lou McDonald

Sentencing of former Sinn Féin councillor and father adjourned until end of the month


A former Sinn Féin councillor who pleaded guilty to torturing a man has denied being friends with Gerry Adams or Mary Lou McDonald or being a member of the IRA.

Jonathan Dowdall (38) and his father Patrick Dowdall (59) were due to be sentenced at a sitting of the Special Criminal Court on Friday. They had pleaded guilty to imprisoning and torturing Alexander Hurley at a house on the Navan Road on January 15th, 2015. Both also pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Mr Hurley.

However, with sentencing from Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy imminent Michael O’Higgins SC, for Jonathan Dowdall, asked for permission to address the court, and said his client sought to contest claims that he had any association with the IRA or that he was personal friends with high-ranking Sinn Féin figures.

While admitting that his client’s actions on the date in question were “wrong” Mr O’Higgins said Jonathan Dowdall disputes that he threatened Mr Hurley’s family, adding he would “never have even contemplated” doing such a thing as he had nothing against the family.

Phone records

Mr O’Higgins said Mr Hurley proposed coming to the house rather than being invited to dinner by his client. He said this version of events is borne out by telephone records and claimed the victim was not imprisoned for three hours as had been stated.

Mr O’Higgins also raised doubts over Mr Hurley’s stated occupation as well as his character in light of previous convictions for dishonesty, and said the matters needed to be teased out in the court in case they impacted on sentencing.

Mr O’Higgins said it would be “grossly unfair” if a penalty were to be imposed on someone before all evidence was heard, but admitted that the new factors raised “may ultimately not be relevant at all” depending on the judge’s interpretation.

Prosecuting counsel Vincent Heneghan SC said evidence regarding Jonathan Dowdall’s alleged association with the IRA were “very clearly” part of the prosecution case from early on.

Mr Heneghan said Jonathan Dowdall pleaded guilty to matters contained in the book of evidence in which details of the three-hour ordeal endured by the victim were “front and centre”, and said it was “far too late” to order a new hearing.

Ms Justice Kennedy agreed to adjourn sentencing and set a date of May 30th for parties to make submissions on holding a new hearing.