A credit union worker feared a man running towards her was gong to kill her 'because she had seen too much' on the night detective garda Adrian Donohoe was shot dead, a court has heard
Volunteer employee Bernadette McShane was giving evidence this morning at the trial of Aaron Brady (28) who is charged with the capital murder of Det Gda Donohoe at the Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Co Louth, on January 25, 2013.
Mr Brady is also charged with the robbery of approximately €7,000 in cash and assorted cheques from Mr Pat Bellew at the same location on the same date.
The accused, of New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, has pleaded not guilty to both charges.
The Central Criminal Court heard that Bernadette McShane had worked at the Lordship credit union for around 25 years at the time of the incident.
The witness told the court that she arrived in work at around 4.45pm that day, and carried out her routine roles.
Later at 9.25pm Ms McShane locked up the credit union with her co-worker Pat Bellew after a colleague from the Cooley branch arrived with an armed garda escort.
She said she turned off the car park lights and set the alarm and that Mr Bellew left with a dark-coloured AIB bag, walking towards his Mazada car.
Ms McShane said she got into her red Nissan Micra, parked near the credit union door beside the front wall of the car park, but didn't start her car up straight away as she wanted the detectives to realise it was Mr Bellew who they were following as part of the escort that evening. This, the court heard previously, was a weekly occurrence for the takings from four credit unions on the Carlingford Peninsula to be escorted to Dundalk.
She told prosecuting counsel Dean Kelly BL that through her rear view mirror she saw Mr Bellew reverse his car, and she then started the engine of her own vehicle.
The witness told the court that she then heard what she described as two loud bangs and initially thought they were fireworks. Ms McShane turned to look towards the other cars in the car park and saw men running to her right hand side.
"The first thing I saw was one of the detectives falling to the ground" the witness said, adding that she initially believed it was a ducking reaction from the bangs. Ms McShane said she wasn't used to gunshots, but when the detective "fell to the ground and didn't move" she realised that it was a gunshot she heard and not a firework.
After this, the witness said, an individual running towards her. The witness became emotional recalling the robbery and wiped away tears.
Ms McShane said that when she saw the man running towards her she thought he was coming "to kill me because I'd seen too much". This individual smashed her driver side window and demanded money.
She told the court that the man said "give me the money, give me the f***ing money" and that Ms McShane replied "I haven't got any, somebody else has it."
The court heard he then told her to "drop the glove compartment", which she did, but that there was nothing inside. He then demanded her handbag which she handed over.
Ms McShane said she then heard someone shout 'are you right there lads' and the witness said the men then all left at the same time, with the male at her car jumping the car park wall out on to the main road.
The volunteer employee said she did not know where that shout came from, but described what she thought was a walkie talkie being carried by the man at her car.
The witness said she was afraid to look at this individual because she was in fear that if she "took in to much" that he was going to kill her.
She agreed with Mr Kelly that the man was holding this object close to his body, and that the device had what she thought was an aerial.
Ms McShane described this individual as "on the bulky side" and wearing dark clothes, but said she was not able to described his accent apart from saying that it wasn't a strong Norther Ireland accent.
The court heard the man who shouted 'are you right there lads' had a different accent to the male who robbed her handbag.
She then noticed a car speed off after the men had left the car park.
The witness will continue giving evidence this afternoon.