Former terrorist and killer on ‘frolic of their own’ when employee of Mansfield Jnr abducted

Laywyer for businessman says he should be acquitted over false imprisonment plot

Counsel for Jim Mansfield Jnr  told the Special Criminal Court on Wednesday that the prosecution’s case had not reached the threshold for them to even consider a verdict. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Counsel for Jim Mansfield Jnr told the Special Criminal Court on Wednesday that the prosecution’s case had not reached the threshold for them to even consider a verdict. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

Former INLA terrorist Dessie O’Hare and killer Declan ‘Whacker’ Duffy were on a “frolic of their own” when they abducted one of Jim Mansfield Jnr’s employees, a barrister has told the businessman’s trial.

Bernard Condon SC, for Mr Mansfield, told the Special Criminal Court that the prosecution’s case had not reached the threshold for them to even consider a verdict.

There is, he said, insufficient evidence that his client knew of the plot to abduct Martin Byrne.

Mr Mansfield Jnr (54), of Tasaggart House, Garters Lane, Saggart, Co Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to conspiring with one or more persons to falsely imprison Mr Byrne on a date unknown between January 1st, 2015 and June 30th, 2015.

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

Agreement

Mr Condon said that even if the court accepts the prosecution’s case at its height, there is insufficient evidence to establish that any agreement existed between Mr Mansfield and Duffy and O’Hare.

Even if the court felt the evidence established that there was a conspiracy, Mr Condon said the court could not be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the conspiracy involved the false imprisonment of Mr Byrne.

Mr Condon said the allegation made by Mr Byrne is that O’Hare was waiting in an office when he arrived at Keating Park in Dublin with Mr Mansfield. Mr Byrne said that Duffy then entered and O’Hare told Mr Mansfield to leave.

When Mr Mansfield was gone, Mr Byrne said O’Hare told him: “We are now in charge of the Mansfield business and your services are no longer required.”

Based on what Mr Byrne had alleged, counsel said, there was no evidence that Mr Mansfield was involved in a conspiracy to falsely imprison him or that he knew what was intended.

“It would be unfair,” he said, “to do someone down for something that wasn’t in their mind.”

Mr Condon said that Mr Byrne “ended up being falsely imprisoned” but the connection between that and Mr Mansfield has not been established. The evidence, he said, suggested that O’Hare and Duffy were “on a frolic of their own that had nothing to do with Mr Mansfield.”

Conspired

Shane Costelloe SC, for the prosecution, said there is sufficient evidence for the court to conclude that Mr Mansfield conspired with the two criminals to falsely imprison Mr Byrne.

He asked the judges to look at evidence that Mr Mansfield arranged to meet Mr Byrne at Finnstown House and they went together to Keating Park, a property owned by the Mansfields in a remote area with no security cameras.

Mr Byrne believed he was going there to meet O’Hare and said he was “shocked” when he entered the office to find Duffy standing behind him.

Mr Costelloe said: “How is it that Mr Duffy happens to be there? Of course the accused is part of this agreement where Dessie O’Hare and Declan Duffy are going to be there. It can’t be anything other than an agreement because look at what unfolds.”

The three-judge court, presided over by Mr Justice Alex Owens, will deliver its judgement on the defence application to acquit on Thursday.