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Jonathan Dowdall’s phone records show ‘no clear’ opportunity for confession meeting, trial told

Intelligence analyst Sarah Skedd one of the final prosecution witnesses in the 12-week trial, was continuing to give evidence today

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Gerry Hutch

Gardai outside the Regency Hotel

David Byrne

Andrew PhelanSunday World

Regency trial witness Jonathan Dowdall did not appear to have had “any clear opportunity” to be in a park where he alleges Gerard Hutch confessed to murder on one of the possible dates he gave for the meeting, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Intelligence analyst Sarah Skedd told the trial that records showed Dowdall’s phone was near his own Navan Road, Dublin home before travelling towards Dundalk on February 8, 2016, not at the park in Whitehall.

It was possible Dowdall met Hutch the day before, February 7, when his phone did connect to a Whitehall cell, but this was at 3.16pm, more than three hours after the time estimate Dowdall had given for the meeting.

Ms Skedd, one of the final prosecution witnesses in the 12-week trial, concluded her evidence today.

Mr Hutch (59), of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Kinahan gang member David Byrne (32) on February 5, 2016.

He was killed when five raiders, three disguised as ERU gardai with assault rifles stormed the hotel.

Gerry Hutch

The attack at a boxing weigh-in fuelled the Kinahan-Hutch gang feud.

Jason Bonney (52) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock and Paul Murphy (61) of Cherry Avenue, Swords, deny providing cars for the attack team.

Dowdall, a former Sinn Fein councillor, had been charged with murder but instead pleaded guilty to facilitation, by helping to book a room at the Regency that was used by the raiders.

He has alleged in evidence that after the room was booked, it was Gerard Hutch who turned up to collect the keys. He also claims Mr Hutch met him at Ellenfield Park, Whitehall days after the murder and “confessed” that he shot Mr Byrne.

Ms Skedd continued to give evidence of combining sources of evidence including phone data, CCTV footage and statements to produce spreadsheets, charts, timelines and maps for the court.

The court heard Dowdall maintains Mr Hutch contacted him and asked to meet him on a date after the Regency murder.

This was after the February 7, 2016 publication of a picture from the Regency attack in the Sunday World.

Dowdall had said after the meeting “later that night”, he got a call from Patsy Hutch’s wife Kay about the murder of Eddie Hutch, another brother of Gerard Hutch’s.

Ms Skedd noted Dowdall had said the meeting took place on the same date as the call from Patsy Hutch's wife, which would have to have been the eighth.

Records showed the call was at 8.03pm on February 8, 2016.

Dowdall’s phone records for that date showed it was connecting to cells near the Navan Road until 11.58am, after which the records were consistent with it travelling on the M1 towards Dundalk and then Co Monaghan. By 4.31pm the phone had returned to using cells in the north Dublin area.

“Based on the phone records there does not appear to have been any clear opportunity to go to the park in Whitehall on February 8, 2016,” Ms Skedd said.

Gardai outside the Regency Hotel

Ms Skedd said it was possible the meeting took place on February 7, 2016 and Dowdall’s phone connected to a cell at Collins Avenue, Whitehall which was oriented to potentially give coverage to the park.

This was at 3.16pm, she said, and the last cell data before that was at Ashtown Gate at 12.14am. After 3.16pm, the data showed the phone returning to Navan Road via the M50.

None of the phone numbers that contacted Dowdall’s phone stood out as having potentially been used by Mr Hutch but it was possible that contact took place over internet based applications, she said.

David Byrne

The court also heard on February 4, the day before the murder, Dowdall's father Patrick, who also facilitated the Regency murder, picked up the keys to a room in the hotel which he said he had booked at the request of Patsy Hutch.

Jonathan Dowdall alleged he drove his father to Richmond Road that night to hand over the keys to the booked room, and it was Gerard Hutch who collected them.

Ms Skedd said at 7.25pm that night, Patrick Dowdall’s phone used a cell on Richmond Road.

This “appears to be consistent” with Jonathan Dowdall’s account of being on Richmond Road that evening, she said.

Ms Skedd was cross-examined by Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr Hutch.

She agreed that phone records could not show the exact location of a phone but only which cell site it connected with. Records for a call only showed where it started, the court heard.

“There’s no evidence to support an opportunity for Mr Dowdall meeting Gerard Hutch in Whitehall on the morning of February 8,” he said.

“On the basis of these records, it doesn’t appear so,” Ms Skedd said.

“There’s no evidence of any possibility of meeting Mr Dowdall at that park during that particular day because his phone records suggest (Dowdall) is up north,” Mr Grehan said.

“Yes,” Ms Skedd replied.

Mr Grehan said Ms Skedd had then considered the possibility that the meeting could have happened on February 7.

She agreed that Dowdall’s phone was connecting to his “home” area cells until 12.14pm that day.

After this, Dowdall’s phone connected to the Collins Avenue, Whitehall site at 3.16pm.

Ms Skedd said there was a gap between 12.14pm and 3.16pm where there was no information from the phone, but agreed that it could possibly have still been in Dowdall’s home area by 12.34pm that day.

“So there’s nothing in the phone evidence to support the suggestion that Mr Dowdall could have been in the park meeting Mr Hutch up to 12 o’clock,” Mr Grehan asked.

“Not on the basis of these records,” Ms Skedd said.

Mr Bonney’s barrister, John Fitzgerald, cross-examined Ms Skedd on evidence she gave in relation to his client’s alleged movements on the day of murder.

Mr Bonney’s BMWX5 jeep and Mr Murphy’s Toyota Avensis taxi and are both alleged to have been part of a convoy that parked up at nearby GAA grounds before the attack and transported the assassination team away afterwards.

The court has heard Mr Bonney’s defence will be that on the day, he never drove his jeep south of Newbrook Avenue, Donaghmede, but his father did.

Mr Fitzgerald put it to Ms Skedd that the information on her charts did not identify his client anywhere other than outside his Portmarnock home. She agreed that after this, only a vehicle was identified.

She also agreed phone records had nothing to do with the vehicle unless the individual was in it.

“If the driver changed south of Newbrook Avenue and his father drove the jeep (after that) and was seen doing so, you can’t deny that can you?” he asked.

“No,” Ms Skedd replied.

The trial continues before Ms Justice Tara Burns, Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.

The trial continues before Ms Justice Tara Burns, Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Grainne Malone.

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