Ex-SF man jailed for 12 years over waterboarding

Johnathan Dowdall
Johnathan Dowdall

An ex-Sinn Féin councillor who threatened, interrogated and waterboarded a man who he believed was trying to defraud him has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Jonathan Dowdall, 40, was jailed alongside his father Patrick, who received eight years for his role in the attack.

Both admitted to falsely imprisoning the victim, Alexander Hurley, and threatening to kill him when he had come to Jonathan Dowdall’s Dublin home to buy a motorcycle in January 2015.

Dublin’s Special Criminal Court was told the victim – a convicted fraudster – met the pair after answering an advert about a motorbike for sale.

The court heard Jonathan Dowdall believed Mr Hurley was attempting to defraud him.

The court was told the victim was pushed into the garage by Patrick Dowdall and tied to a chair.

During the ordeal, which was filmed on a mobile phone and played in court, Mr Hurley is heard pleading for his life as the Dowdalls threaten to chop him up and feed him to the dogs.

The court was also told that Jonathan Dowdall put a tea-towel over the victim’s face and poured buckets of water over his head – a manoeuvre known as ‘waterboarding’, which can recreate the sensation of drowning.

Patrick Dowdall took out pliers and threatened to pull off the victim’s fingers, starting with the smallest.

Passing sentence yesterday, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said that the video footage depicts a truly terrifying ordeal which no words could convey.

Mr Hurley said the psychological injuries he suffered during the attack would never completely heal.

As reported by Irish broadcaster RTE, Ms Justice Kennedy said the fact that the attack was recorded by an unknown woman was chilling and the fact that he told the victim that he would if necessary upload it on YouTube shows Jonathan Dowdall’s moral compass was skewed.

The court also heard that during the course of the victim’s ordeal he was told that Jonathan Dowdall was a “good friend of Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald”.

Mr Hurley was also told that he had been “stupid” for attempting to “mess with the head of the IRA”.

Dowdall, Ms McDonald and Mr Adams have all been pictured together in the past.

Ms McDonald welcomed Jonathan Dowdall’s conviction last month, and said he had left the party “some years ago”.

However, extracts from press reports suggest Dowdall only left Sinn Fein in February 2015 – the month after the man was held captive.

A report on news site www.thejournal.ie says that whilst Dowdall publicly considered quitting in September 2014 he had ultimately opted to stay on. Then when he did quit, his resignation took effect from February 15, 2015.