Aaron Brady's defence lawyers complained that they were prevented from showing the jury evidence that they said points to a possible campaign to pressurise witnesses into giving evidence against their client.
In particular the defence wanted to introduce evidence that Suspect A for the robbery spoke to Special Agent Matt Katske of the US Department of Homeland Security in July 2017 at Belfast Airport. Mr Brady’s lawyers said that the special agent, who was at the time attached to the American embassy in London, appeared to offer help with citizenship in return for information that would convict Brady.
Suspect A’s brother was under threat at the time of being sent home from the US. In the recording, which was carried out covertly by Suspect A, the special agent can be heard saying: “He’s being removed, he’s going home. I can find plenty wrong with his paperwork. If he puts Aaron Brady away, you will probably never hear from me again... I can’t do anything for him until he commits to doing something for us in this case.”
Retired former detective inspector Pat Marry told the court during legal argument that he first heard of the recording after Suspect A sent it to Special Agent Katske who then passed it on to him.
He said he had not told the special agent to approach Suspect A or anyone else with offers in return for statements. Michael O’Higgins SC for the defence said that if Mr Marry is to be believed then this was evidence of a “maverick” agent behaving in a “bizarre and inappropriate manner” taking it on himself to enter into a bargain in return for evidence against his client. He said the agent indicated there were “great prospects available” for anyone willing to make statements against Brady.
Counsel argued that the jury needed to be aware that Special Agent Katske behaves in this way so that when they look at the evidence of Daniel Cahill “they will know what they are dealing with”. Mr Cahill gave evidence that Brady told him on three occasions that he had shot a garda but the defence claimed that Mr Cahill may have been pressurised by Homeland Security with the threat that he would be deported if he refused to give a statement to gardai.
In that context, Mr O’Higgins said it was necessary for the jury to hear about what was said to Suspect A at Belfast Airport. However, Mr Justice Michael White refused to allow the tape to be played in front of the jury and refused to allow Mr O’Higgins to question Agent Katske about it.
He said the issue was a collateral one and that Daniel Cahill and Special Agent Mary Ann Wade had said repeatedly when cross examined in front of the jury that no inducements were offered in return for Mr Cahill’s statement.