Court hears Jim Mansfield jnr wanted CCTV footage destroyed

Witness handed in CCTV device from day of alleged abduction to gardaí at Kildare station

Jim Mansfield jnr, who denies setting up one of his employees to be taken prisoner by a gang, wanted CCTV footage from the day of the alleged abduction destroyed, his trial has heard.

Patrick Byrne on Monday told prosecution counsel Shane Costelloe SC that, in 2015, he worked in security with his brother Martin Byrne at Finnstown House hotel, which was owned by Mr Mansfield jnr. The witness said the day after his brother was taken hostage, Mr Mansfield told him to destroy a digital recording device used to store CCTV footage at the hotel. "He asked me to bring it out the back and smash it up."

Mr Byrne said he told his employer he would, but instead brought the device home and later handed it over to gardaí. The witness had already viewed the footage and said it showed "two lads" trying to get access to Martin Byrne's car on the day of the abduction. He said it also showed Mr Mansfield and Martin Byrne leaving the hotel together in a black Audi A6. He said the two men who tried to access Byrne's car could also be seen in the Audi.

Mr Mansfield jnr (55), of Garters Lane, Saggart, Co Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to conspiring with one or more people to falsely imprison Martin Byrne on a date unknown between January 1st, 2015, and June 30th, 2015.


False imprisonment

He also denies attempting to pervert the course of justice by directing Patrick Byrne to destroy recorded CCTV footage, with the alleged intention of perverting the course of public justice in relation to the false imprisonment of Martin Byrne (53) at Finnstown House Hotel, Newcastle Road, Lucan, Co Dublin, between June 9th, 2015, and June 12th, 2015. He is on trial at the Special Criminal Court.

Patrick Byrne said that he was working at Finnstown House when his brother’s wife, Lisa, was upset and told him that “someone had taken Martin away and held him hostage in a house”. The following day, the witness said he had a conversation with Mr Mansfield jnr in which the accused described the people who had taken Martin as “animals”.

Mr Mansfield asked about Martin and asked Patrick to check the CCTV from the day.

When Mr Byrne told him what was on the CCTV, he said Mr Mansfield asked him to remove it from the system. Mr Byrne said: “He said that the guards would not be coming to collect it and I didn’t need to give it to the guards.” The witness told his employer that if he deleted the footage, it could still be recovered using forensic tools. Mr Byrne said the accused then told him to destroy it, and to “bring it out the back and smash it up”.

Recording devices

The witness said it would have been obvious that the device had been removed because it was part of a bank of recording devices and each one was numbered. It was number four in the bank. He said Mr Mansfield told him to replace the device, which he did. He said he later met gardaí at Kildare Garda station and handed over the original device, which was produced in court and identified by the witness.

The trial, which began in October last year and was initially expected to last just three weeks, resumed on Monday following months of delay and numerous adjournments. It is continuing at the non-jury, three-judge Special Criminal Court, presided over by Mr Justice Alex Owens.