Saturday 21 January 2017

Informer claim a lie, murder trial told

Natasha Reid

Published 09/06/2011 | 05:00

A drug dealer-turned state witness in a murder trial has denied being a garda informer for several years before the Dublin killing.

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Joseph O'Brien (26), was giving evidence at the Central Criminal Court, in Dublin, in the trial of four men charged with murdering a father of three in a city pub.

John Carroll (33) was shot dead while socialising in Grumpy Jack's Pub in the Coombe just after 9.30pm on February 18, 2009.

Peter Kenny (28), of McCarthy's Terrace, Rialto; Christopher Zambra (35), of Galtymore Road, Drimnagh; Damien Johnston (27), of Cashel Avenue, Crumlin; and Bernard Hempenstall (26), from Park Terrace in The Coombe, have pleaded not guilty to his murder.

The court has heard that Mr O'Brien was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for giving evidence.

Michael O'Higgins, defending Mr Johnston, yesterday pointed to his phone records for the week leading up to the killing. They showed 11 communications with Detective Sergeant Adrian Whitelaw, a senior officer in the murder investigation.

"He used to ring me just to see what was happening in the area," explained Mr O'Brien. "I wouldn't tell him anything."

He agreed that he used to tell Det Sgt Whitelaw when he would change his phone number, but said that this was to prevent him calling to his house.

"Det Sgt Whitelaw is going to say that you've been an informer for several years ... , that you gave him information and that information led to the intersection of drugs, and the arrest, prosecution and conviction of a number of people," said Mr O'Higgins.

"No way. That's a lie," responded Mr O'Brien.

Mr O'Brien agreed that he had never held down a job for more than a couple of months. He'd left school at about 15 and soon began selling drugs. However he didn't begin taking drugs until he was 19 and was a recreational user, never becoming addicted.

He agreed that by the time of the killing he was a drug dealer at a significant level.

Mr O'Brien agreed that he'd also committed a large number of other criminal offences, including credit card fraud.

Threat

He said that by the summer of 2005, his life was under threat as he had fallen out with the well-known, notorious criminal, who had taken a shine to him as a teenager.

The witness agreed that this drugs boss came down heavy on him and that he told Det Sgt Whitelaw that this individual was threatening to shoot him over the debt and for informing on him to the gardai.

Mr O'Brien agreed that at the time of John Carroll's killing, he (Mr O'Brien) was socialising seven nights a week, taking cocaine, getting taxis everywhere, 'could drop' €3,000 or €4,000 an hour in a bookie's and owed €8,500.

However, he denied driving the gunman to the scene that night in order to make €15,000.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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