The judge overseeing the trial of a man accused of murdering Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe has told the jury to use caution when considering the evidence of one witness who was interrupted during her video link testimony by a man who told her: “Put a stop to it. You can stop it right now. No more testimony.”
Mr Justice Michael White told the 13-person jury that Molly Staunton, who gave evidence from her New York apartment over two days last month, was not being independently supervised and the interruption was “improper and regrettable” and he apologized for it.
He explained the circumstances that led to Ms Staunton giving evidence from her home without independent supervision. It was, he said, the original intention that she would travel to Dublin but due to the pandemic the court decided to allow her to give evidence via video link. A request was sent to American authorities to facilitate her but the outbreak in New York was such that no public facilities could be provided.
Under normal circumstances he said a witness would not be permitted to give evidence without supervision and Mr Brady’s defence raised concerns but the decision was taken to allow her give evidence from her home. She was sent a letter telling her to be on her own, in a quiet room where she would not be interrupted.
However, Mr Justice White said, a “basic risk assessment was not carried out” to ensure she had control over the area.
The person who interrupted was, the judge said, a friend or boyfriend who was living with Ms Staunton.
He added: “The interruption was improper and regrettable and I apologize to you.”
He said that during his charge at the end of the trial he will issue a warning to them to exercise caution in their evaluation of Ms Staunton’s evidence.
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 e7,000 in cash and assorted cheques on the same date and at the same location.
The jury also heard cross examination today (MON) of Special Agent Mary Ann Wade of Homeland Security in America who again refused to answer questions regarding the immigration status of Daniel Cahill. Mr Cahill, a bartender, has previously told the trial that Aaron Brady admitted to him on three occasions that he shot a garda. He also said that he, Mr Cahill, had overstayed his visa in the US and was attempting to regularize his status having married an American citizen.
Special Agent Wade told defence counsel Michael O’Higgins SC that her employer will not allow her to give evidence of the immigration status of Mr Cahill or five other witnesses who were interviewed in New York. She said that she could talk about Aaron Brady’s immigration status as he is not one of the six witnesses named by her employer.
Mr O’Higgins asked the witness if she understood why he was asking her questions about the circumstances of Mr Cahill’s detention on July 25, 2019, the same day he gave his first statement to gardai. She replied: “Yes. You are trying to discredit me, I understand that. By asking the same questions over and over.”
Mr O’Higgins asked her about a suspected cannabis plant found under lights in a closet in Mr Cahill’s house on that day. The witness has previously stated that the plant found did not contain any cannabis and was not considered prosecutable by the local district attorney and no charges were brought.
Mr O’Higgins asked why, if the plant was not prosecutable, Mr Cahill was put in handcuffs and brought to Yonkers police station. Special Agent Wade said there were also steroids in the house. She said she couldn’t remember if she had mentioned the steroids when being cross examined on the same issue last week. She said no prosecution was ever taken against Mr Cahill in relation to the steroids but she did not remember why. It was, she said, not a federal matter and therefore was not going to be her investigation. The witness refused to say whether there was an investigation into Mr Cahill’s legal status in the US or whether she had a conversation with Mr Cahill about his status prior to him speaking to gardai.
Ms Wade has completed her evidence and the trial continues in front of Mr Justice White and the jury of six men and seven women.