A suspected fuel launderer who is named in an alibi notice for the man accused of murdering Det Gda Adrian Donohoe is also a suspect for the robbery that led to the garda's fatal shooting, the Central Criminal Court heard on Tuesday.
In December last year the accused man Aaron Brady submitted a notice of alibi to the Director of Public Prosecutions in which he said he was working at a diesel laundering yard on Concession Road in south Armagh at the time of the robbery at Lordship Credit Union in Co Louth. In the notice he said he was working under the direction of a named person whose identity cannot be published for legal reasons.
The current senior investigating officer in the case Detective Inspector Martin Beggy on Tuesday told Michael O'Higgins SC for the defence that the suspected fuel launderer has not been questioned in relation to Mr Brady's alibi as he is also a suspect for the robbery. He added: "To speak to him would require him being cautioned and an interview set up." He said the man was approached in 2013 and asked to account for his movements on the night of the robbery and at that time did not mention any interaction with Mr Brady.
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 Síochána 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.
Mr O'Higgins put it to former detective inspector Pat Marry that when Mr Brady called the known fuel launderer at 19.55 on the evening of the robbery his call went through a mast at Drumlandrick in Northern Ireland. When gardaí, as part of their investigations, made a call from near the diesel laundering yard it went through the same mast. Mr O'Higgins said that this supported Mr Brady's claim that he was at the diesel laundering yard that evening.
Mr Marry did not agree, saying that phone calls made at Lordship Credit Union can go through many masts over a vast area. You could, he said, be in the south and have your call go through a mast in Northern Ireland. "It's not an exact science," he said.
Giving evidence last week Mr Marry said that gardaí looked at CCTV footage on Concession Road but could find no evidence of the BMW Mr Brady said he was travelling in when he went to the diesel laundering site. Mr O'Higgins on Tuesday put to him a garda report on the CCTV which stated that no vehicles were identifiable in the footage but at 20.45 and 20.49 gardaí saw two cars that were "possibly" a BMW or "similar to" a BMW.
Mr Marry said that in February 2013 Aaron Brady told gardaí the BMW waited for him on Concession Road for 15 minutes from about 8pm before they left the area and travelled to another part of Northern Ireland. He said there was no CCTV of a car waiting in that area at that time.
In reexamination Mr Marry told Brendan Grehan SC for the prosecution that Mr Brady’s accounts of his movements on the night were checked thoroughly.
Retired former chief superintendent Brian Mohan told Mr Grehan that he was the senior investigating officer (SIO) for the murder of Det Gda Donohoe from September 2013 to November 2016. Mr O'Higgins asked him if gardaí ever noticed that Mr Brady and five other people who were in contact with one another at various times on the day of the shooting and the day after were all known to be involved in fuel laundering. He said this was noticed but added that they also have other things in common.
He said gardaí launched a separate investigation that resulted in two of those men being convicted of fuel laundering offences. He agreed that there was a high volume of calls among those people on the days in question but added: "We couldn't say what they were saying and planning or doing." He said gardaí particularly noted high levels of contact among the group after Mr Brady and another suspect for the robbery were stopped by Sergeant John Moroney on the afternoon following the murder. The court has previously heard that Mr Brady lied to Sgt Moroney about his movements around the time of the robbery and shooting.
Mr Mohan said gardaí asked some of the suspected fuel launderers to account for their movements on the night of the shooting but he said the investigation was hampered by the border with Northern Ireland.
Detective Inspector Mark Phillips of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) told Mr O'Higgins that he heard witness Daniel Cahill tell the trial that he met off-duty gardaí in a bar in New York on St Patrick's Day 2017 and told them that Aaron Brady had admitted to him that he killed a garda. Mr O'Higgins asked what Det Insp Phillips would expect a garda to do with that information. It is a difficult question, he said, adding: "It depends on the circumstances. I can't say what they thought they heard, their condition, had they consumed alcohol, what they remembered the next day." He agreed that it is difficult to imagine that any garda who heard such information would fail to appreciate its significance.
The trial continues in front of Mr Justice Michael White and a jury of six men and seven women.