Wednesday 16 October 2019

Detective defends handing €3k back to murder suspect

Retired detective superintendent PJ Browne
Retired detective superintendent PJ Browne

Natasha Reid

A retired detective superintendent has denied that his judgment was impaired by alcohol when he returned the proceeds of crime to a murder suspect while taking a statement from him.

PJ Browne was being cross-examined in the trial of a man charged with a murder four years ago.

Christopher Zambra (38), of Galtymore Road in Drimnagh, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to murdering John Carroll (33) on February 18, 2009. Mr Carroll was shot dead as he socialised in Grumpy Jacks pub in the Coombe.

Mr Zambra is accused of ordering the killing on the evidence of an accomplice in the murder, Joseph O'Brien. Mr O'Brien has been granted a form of immunity, meaning nothing he says in Mr Zambra's trial can be used against him.

Mr Browne agreed with Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, that gardai found almost €3,000 on Mr O'Brien when he was arrested trying to flee the country days after the murder.

He agreed that he had the money returned to Mr O'Brien's then girlfriend. Mr O'Brien has since admitted that it was 'drugs money'.

However, Mr Browne said he did not suspect this.

He denied the barrister's suggestion that he was 'trying to keep Joey O'Brien sweet'.

Mr O'Higgins then asked him if his judgment had been impaired because he had consumed alcohol that evening, before hearing of Mr O'Brien's arrest.

"My judgment was not impaired and I want you to withdraw that disingenuous comment," he replied. "I had two pints of Guinness and a glass of wine over a four-hour period."

Mr O'Higgins asked him if he was suggesting that his judgment wouldn't be impaired after that.

"Yes," replied Mr Browne.

"Would you have driven a car?" asked the barrister.

"No," replied the witness.

When asked why, he replied that it was against the law.

"You were breaking the law by not having video recording," said Mr O'Higgins.

The trial had already heard that he took statements from Mr O'Brien off camera.

Mr O'Brien (28) has testified that Mr Zambra offered a man €30,000 for the murder.

He told the Central Criminal Court that Mr Zambra told him to source a motorbike to be used in the shooting.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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