Jury to commence deliberations in Aidan Byrne murder trial
THE jury in the murder trial of Jonathan Douglas, the 27-year-old accused of shooting dead Aidan Byrne, is to commence its deliberations on tomorrow morning.
The nine-day trial reached its closing stages today at the Central Criminal Court and after both prosecution and defence counsel's closing speeches, the jury were charged by Mr Justice Paul Carney before being sent home for the evening.
Mr Justice Carney sent the jury of seven men and five women home and asked them to return in the morning to commence their deliberations.
Father-of-one Aidan Byrne (31) was shot ten times while he sat in the passenger seat of a Toyota Corolla car at The Cattle Market, in Drumalee estate at, Dublin, around 8.40pm on Saturday, February 20th 2010.
It is the prosecution's case that Mr Douglas was paid to shoot Mr Byrne.
Jonathan 'Yuka' Douglas, of O'Devaney Gardens, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Byrne.
In the prosecution's closing speech, Mr Gerard Clarke SC, said the jury can rely on the statements made by witnesses Stacey Douglas and Andrew Sheridan, implicating the accused in the murder even though they retracted their statements in court.
He said they have the advantage of viewing the video recording of the statements being read back over to the witnesses “showing both of them relaxed, drinking coffee and not exhibiting signs of fear and not being under pressure” to make the statements.
He told the jury they can have the utmost reliance on the two statements and they are a “true and accurate account” of what happened on the night Aidan Byrne was shot.
Both Ms Douglas, a step-niece of the accused, and her boyfriend Mr Sheridan initially told gardai Douglas called to their house shortly after the murder and admitted shooting someone in the Cattle Market in Drumalee estate. Ms Douglas said the accused told her he was offered money and asked to shoot Mr Byrne, showed them the gun, washed himself and left the house.
Mr Michael O'Higgins, SC, defending, described the contents of the statements given by Ms Douglas and Mr Sheridan as “toxic” and they should consider whether the statements can be relied on.
He said the trial has unusual features in that there are only two witnesses and both are saying under oath that what they said to gardai is not a reliable account.
He urged the jury to have great caution with relying on the video recording of the signing of the statements as he said “it can only establish what it purports to establish in a very narrow time frame and it doesn't establish what went on before it.”
He said the jury have no other information on the murder, independent of the statements given by Ms Douglas and Mr Sheridan.
Mr Justice Carney told the jury to bare in mind that the evidence from the prosecution is “unsworn evidence” and that they can attach no weight, little weight or a lot of weight on the statements.
He said “the issue is whether beyond a reasonable doubt the accused committed the murder.”