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Judge warns Adrian Donohoe murder trial jury to 'exercise caution' over key prosecution witness testimony

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Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe

Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe

Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe

THE jury in the Adrian Donohoe murder trial have been warned by the presiding judge that they will have to "exercise caution" when evaluating the testimony of a key prosecution witness, the court heard.

Mr Justice Michael White made the comments this afternoon in relation to the evidence of US woman Molly Staunton, who previously told the court that she heard the accused say he shot a cop. Aaron Brady denies the capital murder of detective garda Adrian Donohoe.

While giving evidence via video link from her home on June 12 a man entered the room she was in and told her "put a stop to it" and "no more testimony" before the camera feed cut off.

Today Mr Justice White told the jury that later inquiries established he was Ms Staunton's "friend/boyfriend" who she was living with at that time.

The jury were told that initially witnesses based in New York would travel to Dublin to give evidence but that due to the Covid-19 pandemic the prosecution applied for this evidence to be given by video link.

Due to the severe nature of the pandemic in New York, he said, the court was informed that facilities could not be provided by American authorities and that the order was varied to allow witnesses to give evidence from their formal residences.

He said that the court attempted to impose as much formality in this process as possible but said that there was an error in not carrying out a risk assessment of the place of testimony.

Mr Justice White described the interruption as "improper and regrettable" and apologised to the jury for it.

He added that in due course, during his charge to the jury, he will be issuing a warning for them to exercise caution on the evaluation of Ms Staunton's testimony.

This afternoon the cross-examination continued of a US agent who inquired with people based in New York if they were interested in speaking with Gardaí as part of the investigation.

Special Agent Mary Ann Wade, of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), was asked by defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC about going to the home of Daniel Cahill on July 25 last year. Mr Cahill previously told the court he heard the accused say on three separate occasions that he had shot a Garda.

Asked why Daniel Cahill was handcuffed and taken to a local precinct when there was nothing prosecutable found in the house, she said that "there were also steroids in the house."

Special Agent Wade said she was "not sure" when asked if she had ever mentioned steroids to the court before.

She said there was no prosecution brought by the local district attorney in relation to these or plants found at the apartment, and that they were "nowhere near" the threshold for federal charges.

The court also heard that Special Agent Wade did not take any notes of any discussions she had with Mr Cahill.

The HSI agent refused to answer questions on Daniel Cahill's immigration status citing the letter of scope from her employer limiting the evidence she could give.

She said she could speak about Aaron Brady as he was not one of six witnesses mentioned in this letter.

This, the court heard, limited her to reports of investigations and "interviews of six witnesses conducted in New York."

When asked by counsel if she knew why he was questioning her about aspects of the detention of Daniel Cahill, Special Agent Wade replied: "To discredit me, I understand."

The evidence of Special Mary Ann Wade has now concluded and Mr Justice White thanked her for her cooperation.

The trial continues before the jury of six men and seven women tomorrow morning.

Aaron Brady (29) has pleaded not guilty to the capital murder of Adrian Donohoe (41), who was then a member of An Garda Síochána acting in the course of his duty, at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Dundalk, Co Louth, on January 25, 2013.

The accused, of New Road in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, also denies robbery of approximately €7,000 in cash and assorted cheques from Pat Bellew at the same location on the same date.

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