A special agent with Homeland Security in America has said she did not offer anything to an Irish immigrant who had overstayed his visa in return for his testimony in the trial of a man accused of murdering Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe.
In an often spiky encounter with defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC, Special Agent Mary Ann Wade today repeatedly refused to answer questions about the immigration status of witness Daniel Cahill and insisted she did not promise or offer him anything.
Mr Cahill has previously testified that the accused man Aaron Brady told him on three occasions that he murdered a garda in Ireland.
Aaron Brady (28) from New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh has pleaded not guilty to the capital murder of Det Gda Adrian Donohoe 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 €7,000 in cash and assorted cheques on the same date and at the same location.
Special Agent Wade, giving evidence via video link from New York, told prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC that she worked with gardai in New York who were investigating the murder of Det Gda Donohoe. On May 18 2017 she was present when Mr Brady was arrested for being in the US illegally and she seized his mobile phone.
She also informed gardai that Mr Brady had entered the US using a British passport on a flight from Belfast to Newark, New Jersey on April 13, 2013 and had given an address in in the Bronx.
Under cross examination she told Mr O'Higgins that Homeland Security regularly works with foreign law enforcement. She said the agency does not just deal with illegal immigration but has a "broad arm" and is sometimes asked to help with "fugitives" who are in the US.
Mr O'Higgins asked if, regarding the Aaron Brady investigation, there were ever any discussions about telling people who had overstayed their visas that if they failed to cooperate with gardai they would be sent home.
She replied: "I'm not going to testify to investigative methods or interview techniques." She explained that she is bound by a letter from her employer that prevents her from discussing the immigration status of individuals or the methods used by the agency.
Mr O'Higgins asked if there were any discussions at briefings "along the lines of, if they cooperate they will get testimony status, if they don't they will be sent home."
She said she cannot testify as to what is said in agency briefings and said she had never heard of the phrase "testimony status".
Describing the detention of Mr Cahill she said that about eight officers arrived at his home and knocked on the door at about 8.30am on July 25, 2019. His wife answered and let the officers in and while they were there they found what they believed to be a cannabis plant under grow lights in a closet.
Mr Cahill was found after about an hour, hiding in the attic. He told Special Agent Wade that he hid because he was scared. She didn't know why he was scared and couldn't recall him telling her that he was afraid of being attacked or that he believed someone was breaking into his home.
Mr O'Higgins put it to her that Mr Cahill must have felt very vulnerable because he was aware that Irish people had already been asked to speak to gardai by Homeland Security and were later deported. The witness said she doesn't know how Mr Cahill felt.
She said she asked Mr Cahill if he would speak to gardai and told him Homeland Security would protect his rights. She said Mr Cahill told her he wanted to speak to gardai because "he was interested in seeing justice. That is what he told us."
Mr Cahill was detained, she said, because of the plant found in the closet which was believed to be drugs. He was brought to Yonkers police station and while there he spoke to gardai. She was later informed by police that the suspected marijuana plant contained no buds and was therefore not illegal and so there would be no prosecution for that.
Mr O'Higgins asked her if Mr Cahill was told that if he gave a statement he might be permitted to stay in the US. After initially refusing to answer, saying she would not discuss interview techniques or tactics, she said: "I made no promises to him and made no statements like that to him. I did not promise him anything."
When pressed again by Mr O'Higgins she said: "I did not promise him anything. I did not offer him anything. I asked him if he wanted to speak with the guards and that was it."
Mr O'Higgins asked a series of questions about whether Mr Cahill's immigration status was discussed and Ms Wade refused to answer each time. She said the only reason she was there that day was because gardai wanted to speak to Mr Cahill. When again asked about Mr Cahill's status, she said: "I don't think I can be any more clear. I'm not going to answer any questions regarding immigration status. You can waste court time, the jury's time, I'm not going to answer that no matter how many times you ask me."
Mr O'Higgins also asked why Mr Brady was deported but Mr Cahill was not, given that both had overstayed their visas but were married to American citizens. She again said she could not answer.
The trial continues in front of Mr Justice Michael White and a jury of six men and seven women.