A MAN accused of a series of ATM raids and other offences across the south-east told his trial at Wexford Circuit Court last week that evidence given against him by an alleged accomplice was all lies.
Michael Berry (36), of 2 Hillview, Carnew, Co Wicklow, is denying counts of ATM robberies in Carlow, Graignamanagh and Enniscorthy between November 2008 and July 2009. He has also pleaded not guilty to a number of other alleged offences, including aggravated burglary, assault, damage to property, theft of vehicles, and possession of a baseball bat, crowbar and sledgehammer at locations including Kilmyshall and Enniscorthy in County Wexford, Aughrim in County Wicklow, Tullow and the Athy Road in County Carlow, and in Waterford.
As his trial entered its third week, Berry said that evidence given during the first week by Desmond Kavanagh from Bunclody - who is currently serving a prison sentence in respect of the ATM robbery in Enniscorthy - that implicated him in that robbery and other offences was simply not true.
He denied that he had ever told Desmond Kavanagh of being involved in the theft of an ATM from Devoy's Garage on the Tullow Road in Carlow, while he also denied any involvement in the ATM raids in both Graignamanagh and Enniscorthy.
With regard to an assault on a Polish man at a service station in Bunclody,, he said he could not have been involved in that either, because he simply wasn't there.
Prosecuting counsel Patrick Treacy SC put it to him that Mr Kavanagh's evidence said otherwise. ' He (Kavanagh) is a liar,' replied Berry. ' I was not there, and he knows that'.
Berry was also asked about evidence given by Mr Kavanagh that referred to a trip the men made to Waterford in July 2009. Kavanagh had alleged that Berry was involved in offences there, but Berry said all he did was drive the car.
He said Kavanagh called to him that day, looking for a favour. 'I told him I would him that favour when I finished looking after the horses,' he continued. ' Two cousins of mine also called that morning to the Carraig Ban Estate in Bunclody. The cousins said leave the horses, and we would go with him for the spin. I had no idea where Desmond Kavanagh was going. I said I needed money for petrol and Kavanagh gave me €160 euro. I put €60 euro of petrol in the car and that left me with €100.
' We drove to Waterford. I dropped them off and waited for about half an hour for them to come back. I later drove home on my own. I don't know where they went,' he said.
Later in the trial, Mr Treacy put it to Berry that he seemed to have a taste for some of the finer things in life. He pointed in particular to the expensive Tommy Hilfiger shirt that Berry was wearing in court.
'I like expensive clothes when I can afford them,' Berry replied.
When further questioned by Mr.Treacy regarding the contents of bags of other clothing in the boot of his car, the accused agreed there was ' lots' there.
'You are very intrested in my shirt. I'm wearing XXXL today. If ncecessary I'll take it off,' the accused told Mr Treacy.
'Myself and my family are not bums. We are successful at what we do. We have a few quid, you know,' he added.
Mr. Treacy also questioned Berry about an occasion at the Jeans Shop in the Fairgreen Shopping Centre in Carlow, when Berry was seen to take 'a substantial amount' of cash from his pocket.
The accused said that he could not say for sure what he had at that time, for he had been in Best's Shop earlier with his brother.
' You had a substantial amount of €10, €20 and €50 euro,' said Mr. Treacy.
Mr. Treacy told the accused that he would have to put it to him that his brother was 'on the job' with him in Bunclody.
' You'll have to ask him about that,' said the accused.
Mr Treacy then questioned the accused about his taste in cars, saying he drives expensive cars such as an Audi and BMW. He said they must be very fast.
The accused replied that they would pass everything but a petrol pump.
' You are trying to make me out as a bum,' Berry said. 'I know I did not do any robberies. I was never in any of those places. I was never at the Brook Lodge Hotel or Golf Club either.'
Berry said he has 'a few bob' from the family tradition of breeding and dealing in horses, but said it was not as much as some might think. 'I never bred and sold a horse for €20,000 or €30,000. I once got €11,000,' he said.
When Mr. Treacy said it's like farmers selling cattle and sheep in that they have to keep records and file tax returns, the accused said ' We don't keep records. I have to admit that.'
The trial continues.