Central Criminal Court

Accused gave untrue account of movements on night of murder - barrister

Court

Eoin Reynolds

Reporter:

Eoin Reynolds

Accused gave untrue account of movements on night of murder - barrister

Central Criminal Court

The man accused of murdering Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe gave gardai an untrue account of where he had been when questioned the day after the shooting, his barrister has told the Central Criminal Court.

The trial of Aaron Brady also heard that a garda inspector noticed a "conflict" between what Mr Brady told him and an account given by the man he said he had spent much of that day with. Inspector John Moroney said the times the two men gave "didn't marry" and he also found it "strange" that Mr Brady said he didn't know about the previous night's shooting until he got up that morning.

Counsel for the defence Michael O'Higgins SC said his client told gardai that the initial account he gave was "untrue" and that when asked why, Mr Brady said he didn't think gardai would "look into it much".

Aaron Brady (28) from New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh has pleaded not guilty to the capital murder of Det Gda Donohoe (41) who was then a member of An Garda Siochana on active duty on January 25, 2013 at Lordship Credit Union, Bellurgan, Co Louth. Mr Brady has also pleaded not guilty to a charge of robbing approximately e7,000 in cash and assorted cheques on the same date and at the same location.

Inspector John Moroney told prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC that on January 26, 2013 he was coordinating search teams along the road near Lordship Credit Union. At about 12.35pm he saw a silver BMW 5-series with a W registration approaching the Ballymascanlon roundabout coming from Lordship. He asked the driver to pull in. Aaron Brady was in the front passenger seat.

The witness recognised him because he was prosecuting a matter before Dundalk Circuit Court which concerned Mr Brady. The driver of the vehicle, who can't be named for legal reasons, told him his name and gave him an address in the United States. He said he was home visiting his mother who lived nearby. Mr Brady gave him an address at New Road, Co Armagh.

When the garda asked for an account of Mr Brady's whereabouts the previous night the accused said he had been with the BMW driver and they spent the early part of the day driving around the area. At between 4pm and 5pm they went to a local restaurant named Superbites. At 7pm the driver took him to his girlfriend's house on Concession Road in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh where he stayed until 3am when he was again collected by the driver of the car. They went to the driver's house and played a Fifa computer game, he said.

Mr Brady told Insp Moroney that he wasn't aware of the previous night's incident at Lordship Credit Union until that morning when he got up. When the inspector asked Mr Brady to contact him if he had any information, the inspector said Mr Brady responded: "It might help me with my Circuit Court case."

Inspector Moroney said Mr Brady was "very relaxed" and they spoke to one another sitting on a barrier between the footpath and the grass verge.

When Inspector Moroney spoke to the driver he told him he had been with the accused the previous day and dropped him off at Mr Brady's house at about 8pm or 9pm and then went to a friend's house in Lismore, Crossmaglen for about one hour. He said he then collected the accused and brought him to his girlfriend's house.

Inspector Moroney told Mr Grehan that the driver was "more nervous and said he wasn't great with times."

The witness said he also noticed a "conflict in the times" given by each man and he thought it "strange" that Mr Brady said he didn't know about what happened at Lordship Credit Union until that morning considering he told him he was staying in a house that was inside the garda cordon set up following the shooting.

Under cross examination Inspector Moroney agreed that the shooting was on "every bulletin" that morning and the area around Lordship was "saturated with guards". He further agreed that Mr Brady didn't give him a vague account of where he had been but named specific people he was with and places he visited.

Mr O'Higgins said his account "lends itself to verification". The witness replied that it was up to the incident room to decide what to do with the information. Inspector Moroney also agreed that the first time they were asked to account for their movements the accused and the driver gave "completely contradictory statements."

The witness said he didn't know about a subsequent statement given to gardai in which Mr Brady said his initial account was untrue and that he didn't think the gardai would "look into it much". Inspector Moroney said that he would expect anything said by Mr Brady to be checked but added: "That doesn't mean others would expect it to be checked."

Earlier the jury heard from Gda Finbar Gurhy who said that at 3.05am, less than six hours after Det Gda Donohoe was shot dead, he was one mile from the scene when he saw the same BMW driving towards him. He flashed the lights of his patrol car, switched on the siren and when the car pulled up he spoke to the driver through the car window. Mr O'Higgins said it is accepted that the passenger in the car was his client Aaron Brady.

The witness agreed with Mr O'Higgins that if, as the prosecution says, Mr Brady and the driver of the car were "up to their necks in this murder," being stopped by the gardai with flashing lights and a siren would have been a "very uncomfortable moment".

Gda Gurhy told Mr Grehan that the driver of the car told him that he lived nearby and was on his way home. The garda continued on his way to Dundalk and the driver went on his way, he said.

Gda David Byrne said he saw the same BMW driving along the stretch of road from Lordship three times during the early hours of January 26.

The trial continues this afternoon in front of Mr Justice Michael White and a jury of eight men and seven women.