It "may be dangerous to rely on" the evidence of a witness who told the Aaron Brady trial that she heard the accused admit that he "shot a cop in Ireland", the presiding judge has warned.
Mr Justice Michael White has today nearly completed his charge to the jury and told them they will begin their deliberations tomorrow having begun hearing evidence last January. 15 jurors were sworn at the start of the trial but two dropped out.
Today a juror said that he has a commitment next week and wished to be excused. Mr Justice White discharged the juror bringing the number to the required 12, comprising five men and seven women.
Aaron Brady (29) 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 judge gave the jury a warning on the evidence of Molly Staunton. While Ms Staunton was giving evidence in front of the jury via video link from her New York home an unseen man interrupted her. Mr Justice White today told the jury that there was a previous interruption by the same man when the jury was not present.
On that occasion a radio could be heard in the background in Ms Staunton's home and when the judge asked her to turn it down she said to the man: "The judge says you have to leave. I don't want anyone else in the room." Mr Justice White said the man became difficult when asked to leave and said: "Call another boy, you should be with a lawyer" and later he said: "Just fucking do it," and, "Tell them what you're supposed to tell them." Ms Staunton replied: "I'm not telling them." She later described the man as a friend and said he had left.
Mr Justice White said that because of the interruption and possible interference he had to warn them about Ms Staunton's evidence. He said it "may be dangerous to rely on her evidence", but he added that if they are convinced beyond reasonable doubt of the truth and reliability of her testimony, they may rely on it.
The judge also described Daniel Cahill as "the most controversial prosecution witness". Mr Cahill told the trial that he heard Mr Brady admit to killing a garda on three occasions. Mr Brady's defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC, in his closing speech, said Mr Cahill "might have had a lot of motives to make things up" in circumstances where he was detained by Homeland Security as a visa overstayer on the same day that he gave a statement to gardai.
Having spent five days going over the evidence Mr Justice White thanked the jury for their patience and apologised that it took longer than he expected. He told them that tomorrow he will explain the possible verdicts open to them before they begin their deliberations.