Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch stunned as Jonathan Dowdall could turn State witness in Regency murder trial

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Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch believes he will face the final betrayal as he stands in the dock of the Special Criminal Court tomorrow.

he veteran criminal, accused of the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in February 2016, has been placed under observation at Wheatfield Prison as speculation grows that his friend Jonathan Dowdall has turned State witness.

Jonathan Dowdall was due to stand trial with Hutch for murder.

However, last Wednesday at the Special Criminal Court, Dowdall and his father, Patrick (65) also of Navan Road, Cabra, Dublin 7, both pleaded guilty to facilitating the murder of Mr Byrne at the hotel.

Lawyers for the State are expected to address the three judges of the court; Justice Tara Burns, Justice Sarah Berkeley and Justice Grainne Malone tomorrow afternoon and update them on the eleventh hour changes to the trial which could see it adjourned for months.

The Dowdalls were whisked in and out of court this week with no warning and speedily pleaded guilty to facilitating the Regency Hotel attack by renting a room at the hotel which was used by the gunman known as ‘Flat Cap’, the late Kevin Murray.

It was a far cry from Jonathan Dowdall’s days as an up-and-coming Sinn Féin politician when he served as a Dublin City councillor.

After the Dowdalls’ court appearance, gardaí arrested Hutch at Wheatfield Prison and quizzed him about directing a criminal gang in a highly unusual move just days before he stands trial.

Later members of the Emergency Response Unit attended Dowdalls home on the Navan Road where associates of Hutch were reported to have called.

And officers kept a house in Coolock under surveillance for a short period while the Hutch associates were understood to have been inside.

Hutch-linked social media platforms have been speculating on Jonathan Dowdall’s guilty plea and the possibility he has given a lengthy statement to gardaí against his co-accused.

If Dowdall is to give evidence against Hutch it is expected he will be placed in the Witness Protection Programme. The programme managed by the Garda’s Crime and Security division is designed to protect witnesses in the run-up to a trial and to help them relocate to a new jurisdiction and with new identities in it’s aftermath.

While protected witnesses have given evidence in numerous cases since the programme first established for State supergrasses Charlie Bowden and Russell Warren during the trials of those accused of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin, it has been repeatedly criticised by the judiciary.

It is understood that in Ireland no legislation surrounds the secretive programme. However, evidence given by State witnesses has regularly been accepted and used to convict those charged with serious offences including murder.

The dramatic developments of the past few days have mirrored the extraordinary events that have led to the much-anticipated Regency trial.

The shooting of David Byrne was a seminal moment in the Irish underworld and resulted in a shocking gangland feud that saw the loss of 18 lives.

It was also the spark that lit an international policing co-operation that has reverberated across Europe and beyond and led to sanctions being levelled against the Kinahan Trans Global Organisation and it’s leaders Christy Kinahan snr and his sons Daniel and Christopher Jnr.

This month, their financial control room was targeted when Johnny Morrissey and his wife Nicola were arrested and properties linked to them searched.

Police in Spain are trawling through what they believe to be the accounts of the Kinahan organisation including details of unpaid debts owed to them.

While the Hutch organisation suffered heavy personal losses, with many murder victims linked directly to them, the Kinahan mafia has been systematically dismantled in an unprecedented way with the help of the US Treasury and the powerful DEA.

Gerry Hutch, the man considered the ‘Godfather’ of the Hutch clan had remained off the garda radar for at least a decade before a row between his nephew Gary and Daniel Kinahan escalated and resulted in murder.

In the aftermath of the Regency Hotel attack the Kinahan organisation flooded the north inner city with money and bought the loyalties of neighbours and childhood friends of the Hutch group destroying a once close community and pitching pals and family against one another.

The first ‘Regency’ trial ended when a nolle prosequi was issued in the case of the Monk’s nephew Patrick Hutch after a senior investigator on the case died.

The same team of officers whose evidence brought Patrick Hutch to trial are involved in the State’s case against Gerry Hutch and his co-accused Jason Bonney and Paul Murphy, who are both facing gangland charges relating to vehicles used in the murder.

If the trial is not disrupted by the recent developments with the Dowdalls, it is expected to last around three months. However, if they have given new statements it is likely that Hutch’s legal team will apply for an adjournment to consider the new evidence.

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