Det Adrian Donohoe killed in raid carried out for ‘base’ criminal motive of money

Trial of Aaron Brady told detective died instantly after being shot outside credit union


Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was murdered as part of a sophisticated, well-planned robbery in Co Louth seven years ago, the trial of his alleged killer said.

Opening the trial of Aaron Brady at the Central Criminal Court on Tuesday morning, the prosecution said the veteran detective was “blasted in the face” by a shotgun at close range and was killed instantly during a robbery which lasted 58 seconds.

The raiders deliberately targeted the armed detectives during the robbery of cash from the Lordship Credit Union near Dundalk, the jury heard, as part of a “slick” operation which would have required meticulous planning.

“It was done for money, nothing else,” prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC said. “There is no suggestion of connection to any kind of cause.”

Det Gda Donohoe never had a chance to draw his weapon and his colleague, Det Gda Joe Ryan was pinned in his seat by the raiders until they made their getaway, Mr Grehan said.

Mr Grehan said it is the prosecution’s case that Mr Brady was the man who shot Det Gda Donohoe. The accused was seen in the area on the day of the robbery and was spotted on CCTV driving past the Credit Union in the preceding hours, counsel said.

His phone and those of his two friends, who cannot be named by court order, were switched off before the raid and only switched on afterwards, Mr Grehan said.

The accused also lied to gardaí about his alibi the next day, the jury heard. Counsel said there will be evidence to show Mr Brady had money worries in the lead up to the robbery and had indicated to others these worries would soon go away.

The jury will also hear evidence that he left for New York shortly after as the investigation “ramped up”. While there, “ believing he was beyond the long reach of the law,” Mr Brady had conversations “of a certain nature with people,” Mr Grehan said. The jury will hear about these conversations.

Mr Brady (28) from New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh has pleaded “not guilty” to capital murder- the murder of a garda in the course of their duties- on January 25th, 2013 at Lordship Credit Union, Bellurgan, Co Louth .

He also denies robbing about €7,000 in cash and assorted cheques from Pat Bellew on the same date.

The jury heard the crime of capital murder as a distinct offence derives from the unique nature of the Garda’s job. “When we are in trouble we call them and we expect them to answer. While others run from danger they will run towards it,” Mr Grehan said

He said sometimes gardaí “have to give their lives for that value as they patrol that thin blue line that keeps us all safe” and that the legislature introduced the offence of capital murder in recognition of this.

Det Garda Adrian Donohoe, a married father-of-two, was killed while on duty. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.
Det Garda Adrian Donohoe, a married father-of-two, was killed while on duty. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Det Gda Donohoe (41) was a married father of two and 18 year Garda veteran. The location of his death in the Credit Union car park occurred just across the road from the national school attended by his two children, the court heard.

January 25th, 2013 was a cold, wet night, Mr Grehan said. Det Gda­ Donohoe and Det Gda­ Ryan were assigned to escort the delivery of money from four Credit Unions in the Carlingford Peninsula to a bank in Dundalk.

In a “tragic coincidence”, one of the gardaí who escorted staff on the first leg of the journey was Tony Golden who was himself shot dead two years later in an unrelated incident, the jury heard.

The Lordship Credit Union was the last of four pickups that night. When the detectives arrived staff member Pat Bellew came out of the building and entered his car with €7,000. As he was about the join the convey, a car appeared and blocked the entrance while four “athletic, masked” men jumped over a wall simultaneously.

“Without hesitation” two of the raiders, one armed with a shotgun and one with a handgun, went straight for the Garda car while ignoring the staff members’ vehicles, counsel said.

Det Gda Donohoe was shot in the face from about a car-length away. He died instantly.

The raiders then pointed their weapons at Det Gda Ryan and said: “I’ll f**king kill you. Don’t move. I’ll shoot”.

Another unarmed raider smashed the window of Mr Bellew’s car and took the cash bag while a fourth raider robbed a female staff member of her handbag. One witness noticed they were using walkie talkies.

The raiders never tried to rob staff member Mary Hanlon who was in her car with the majority of the takings, about €27,000 in cash and cheques.

The four men then fled in the waiting car which was driven by a fifth person. The car, which had been stolen “to order” two days before in Clougherhead, was later found burnt out in South Armagh.

The specially enlarged jury of eight men and seven women are due to hear 16 weeks of evidence with the trial expected to conclude by late May.