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Friend lied to gardaí about accused's whereabouts due to 'peer pressure', trial told

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Witness Jade Fitzpatrick. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Witness Jade Fitzpatrick. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Witness Jade Fitzpatrick. Photo: Gerry Mooney

A woman was "peer pressured" into saying a garda murder accused was at his girlfriend's house at the time of the fatal shooting to keep him compliant with his curfew, a court has heard.

The witness initially said Aaron Brady was at Jessica King's home between around 7.30pm and 9.30pm. Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was shot dead at 9.29pm.

The Central Criminal Court heard yesterday that Jade Fitzpatrick later changed her account to say Mr Brady arrived at the house over an hour after the murder.

Mr Brady (29), of New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, has pleaded not guilty to the capital murder of Adrian Donohoe (41), a member of An Garda Síochána acting in the course of his duty at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Co Louth, on January 25, 2013.

He also denies the robbery of about €7,000 in cash and assorted cheques from Pat Bellew at the same location on the same date.

Ms Fitzpatrick, who was 18 at the time, said she was friends with Ms King and on the evening of the murder she stayed over in her home.

She agreed with Brendan Grehan SC, prosecuting, that she made an initial statement to the PSNI saying she went to Ms King's home at around 7pm, and Mr Brady arrived between 7.30 and 8pm before leaving at 9.30pm.

The court heard two days after the fatal shooting she indicated to the PSNI she wanted to change her statement. The witness said her father dropped her at Ms King's home between 8.30pm and 9pm that night, that Mr Brady arrived at the house between 10.30pm and 11pm, that he left at 3am, and that this was "the truth".

Asked by Mr Grehan why she initially told the police Mr Brady arrived at the house earlier, the witness said "Jessica asked me to" and it was "more or less peer pressure in regards to his curfew at the time".

Under cross-examination, she agreed with Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, that she did this to keep Mr Brady in compliance with his curfew.

The court heard this was related to Mr Brady at the time facing charges of unauthorised taking of a vehicle, dangerous driving and criminal damage.

Asked if Mr Brady appeared preoccupied or worried when he arrived at the house, Ms Fitzpatrick replied: "No."

The trial continues.

Irish Independent