Monday 19 March 2018

Detective Inspector denies receiving document with alternative explanation for 'suspicious activity' by accused, court hears

Special Criminal Court
Special Criminal Court

A garda detective inspector has denied receiving a document last year which gives an alternative explanation for the events surrounding the arrest of a man who has admitted taking photos of the Dublin headquarters of a number of specialist garda units.

Detective Inspector Anthony Lenihan, Special Detective Unit, today gave evidence in the trial of Corey Mulhall (43), who was arrested in September 2012 after detectives observed suspicious activity at the Harcourt Hotel close to the garda complex on Harcourt Square.

The Harcourt Square building is home to the Special Detective Unit, whose tasks include monitoring the activities of dissident republicans.

The accused man, of Daletree Court, Ballycullen, Dublin 24, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on September 26th, 2012.

Following an application by the defence last week, the court ruled that the trial could proceed, despite the non-disclosure to the defence of a document offering an alternative explanation for Mr Mulhall’s arrest.

The document sets out what the author perceives to be a number of “victories” achieved by him in an “ongoing battle” with gardai of the Stolen Motor Vehicles Unit (SMVU), also based at Harcourt Square.

In the course of the 10-page document the author makes certain allegations about gardai in the SMVU and states that by September 2012 he believed the best manner to protect himself was to make the story public in the media, for which he would need photographs of the gardai involved.

Later in the document, the author outlines how he came to pay €200 to a man he believed to be connected to dissident republicans to book a room at the Harcourt Hotel and take more photographs of Harcourt Square.

The author said he gave the man €200 to “appease him” and came to believe the man was a “garda informer” and was there to “set him up on a fake charge”. The author states that the man later told him of the events of September 26 and how he managed to escape the Harcourt Street area.

The author alleges that Mr Mulhall was arrested against this background.

Garda Maria Flynn, of the Stolen Motor Vehicle Unit, told counsel for Mr Mulhall, Ms Deirdre Murphy SC, that she came in to possession of a copy of this document after she arrested the author on May 24, 2013.

She told Ms Murphy that within a few days of the arrest she contacted the SDU, asked to speak to the detective inspector overseeing the Corey Mulhall investigation and brought the matter to his attention. Gda Flynn said she was now aware that the detective inspector was Anthony Lenihan.

When this evidence was put to Detective Inspector Lenihan, he told Ms Murphy that he recollected the phone call with Garda Flynn and had also found an email requesting him to make contact with her.

However, he told Ms Murphy he did not accept that Gda Flynn gave him information that Mr Mulhall was in effect a “patsy” in a game being played by the author of the document and another man as part of a test set by the author.

Det Insp Lenihan said that if he was aware of information about a prospective witness who had evidence he hired somebody who claimed to be a dissident republican to carry out a surveillance operation from the Harcourt Hotel, this would have been of “very strong” interest to him.

He told Ms Murphy that he could not say what Gda Flynn told him and could only recall having a telephone conversation with her.

Det Insp said that his first knowledge of the document was when it came before the court last week. “Had I received a copy of this letter it would have been of very strong interest to me,” Det Insp Lenihan said.

Put to him by Ms Murphy that he did not want anything to upset the course that Mr Mulhall would be “done” for membership of the IRA, Det Insp replied that on his reading of the document the author’s claim to have hired a member of the IRA to carry out a surveillance operation would have strengthened the garda case.

Last week Mr Mulhall formally admitted to the Special Criminal Court that he took photos of the complex on Harcourt Square in September 26, 2012 after booking a room in the nearby Harcourt Hotel under the false name “Jason Egan”.

In the written admissions, Mr Mulhall said that a man had offered him money to take photos of a specified garda on behalf of another unnamed man, who was in dispute with gardai.

The trial continues.

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