Guerin suspect had electronic devices in his shoes, court told


The man gardai suspect shot dead journalist, Veronica Guerin, had electronic devices hidden in his shoes, the Special Criminal Court has been told.

The court heard evidence yesterday on the legality of Mr Patrick Holland's detention at Lucan Garda station after his arrest at Dun Laoghaire on April 9th this year. Garda Marion Cusack, who arrested Mr Holland, said she believed he was the man who had shot dead Ms Guerin at the Naas Road on June 26th, 1996.

Mr Patrick Eugene Holland (58), of Dublin, with an address at Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow, has denied possessing cannabis for sale or supply within the State on a date unknown between October 1st, 1995, and October 6th, 1996.

The court was told that as a result of the investigation into Ms Guerin's murder, gardai uncovered a major drugs importation and distribution operation centred on a warehouse at an industrial estate in Dublin. Detectives said they found 47kg of cannabis at the warehouse worth about £470,000, and they believed the warehouse was used for the distribution of huge amounts of the drug.

Det Insp Thomas O'Loughlin, Lucan, said he received a phone call from Mr James Orange, solicitor, on April 4th this year, stating that he was acting for Mr Patrick Holland and that Mr Holland would not be keeping an appointment to attend Lucan Garda station that day.

Mr Orange said Mr Holland would attend on April 7th but he did not. Nor did he attend on a previous occasion when a similar arrangement had been made.

On April 8th, Insp O'Loughlin received confidential information that Mr Holland was at Holyhead. Indications were he would be travelling to Ireland and gardai were instructed to monitor ports and airports. The following morning he was told that Mr Holland was being detained at Lucan Garda station.

Insp O'Loughlin said that at 11 a.m. on April 9th, he was contacted by a detective inspector from the Criminal Assets Bureau about an investigation into alleged money-laundering offences relating to the sale of Mr Holland's house at Brittas Bay.

He also became aware that Mr Orange had been arrested in connection with that investigation. He was told Mr Holland had requested through his solicitor, Ms Elizabeth Ferris, Mr Orange's wife, that any interviews should be recorded on video, but there were no facilities for such recording at the Lucan station.

He said the inspector also informed him that Ms Ferris was involved in the investigation into the alleged money laundering and, on that basis, he informed Mr Holland he could not be seen by Ms Ferris as this could hinder both investigations.

Cross-examined by Mr Brendan Grogan SC, for Mr Holland, Insp O'Loughlin said he had no objection to the recording of the interviewing of suspects by the gardai. He said special arrangements were in place at Lucan to check the integrity of phones and faxes.

"I was extremely worried as a result of items which had been found during a search of Holland's clothing which indicated that attempts were being made to monitor the progress of the investigation," he said. He also suspected that moving Mr Holland to another station could jeopardise the investigation.

A listening device and receiver were found in Mr Holland's shoes, he said, and they ended up in one of the incident rooms before they were detected by gardai.

He denied that the arrest of Mr Orange and the denial of access by Ms Ferris to Mr Holland was part of a "concerted effort to make sure that Mr Holland did not have the legal representation of his choice".

Re-examined by Mr Peter Charleton, prosecuting, Insp O'Loughlin said a hotel room across from Tallaght Garda station had been retained by an associate of Mr Holland who was later taken into custody.

Certain items were found which indicated that the items were going to be used for electronic surveillance. Packaging from the equipment was also found in a bed-and-breakfast near Lucan station. The equipment could be used for monitoring faxes and mobile phones.

A detective inspector from the Criminal Assets Bureau, who cannot be identified, said he suspected Mr Holland and his wife, Angela, had bought a house at Brittas Bay in 1995 for cash, the proceeds of Mr Holland's drug trafficking.

He suspected that the purported sale of the house in February was an attempt to disguise the true ownership of the house to prevent the CAB from taking action over it.

The trial continues today.