Brid Murphy tells her husband’s trial in Dublin that the couple were not evading the authorities when they were in Brazil and Portugal
“Mr Lynn,” the judge said sharply to the defendant. Mr Justice Martin Nolan had a “direct question” that he thought “relevant” and for clarification, he asked it again.
“Did you tell the state authorities, ‘by the way I’m in Brazil now?’” he asked.
“No, I didn’t,” said Mr Lynn.
It was shortly before lunch on day three of Michael Lynn’s cross-examination. The former solicitor and property developer had spent much of the morning being questioned about numerous meetings he agreed to with An Garda Síochána, which ultimately never happened.
His trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard how Mr Lynn’s legal practice had been raided by the Law Society and he had moved to the UK, to Portugal and ultimately to Brazil, from where he was extradited to face 21 counts of theft of €27m from seven financial institutions.
Mr Lynn (53) is accused of taking out multiple mortgages on the same properties in 2006 and 2007. The prosecution alleges Mr Lynn bought Glenlion, a house in Howth, as a family home for €5.5m but took out three mortgages on the property totalling €11m. Mr Lynn pleads not guilty. He claims he had a secret deal with senior bankers who allowed him to take out multiple mortgages in Ireland to fund property development abroad.
He has told the court he “moved” to Brazil in 2011 and did not “flee”, and that it was he who first contacted An Garda Síochána with a view to meeting them.
On Tuesday, Patrick McGrath, senior counsel for the prosecution, took the former solicitor “step by step” through each cancelled meeting between 2008 and 2011. In November 2008, gardaí arranged to meet him at London legal firm Merriman White, but that meeting was cancelled because his solicitor couldn’t attend, the court heard.
In February 2009, Mr Lynn’s solicitor wrote to gardaí saying he was prepared to be interviewed but asked that no European Arrest Warrant would be issued until four weeks after the interview, the court heard. Gardaí wrote back a week later to ask if Mr Lynn would attend the garda office, the court was told.
“I don’t recall that”, said Mr Lynn. “I recall we were trying to arrange a meeting in Portugal at the time.”
Another date was agreed for January 10, 2011 in Portugal, the court heard.
“The 10th of January?” said Mr Lynn.
“I think you sought assurances you would not be arrested,” said Mr McGrath.
“Yes, that was the advice of my solicitor, to seek those assurances,” said Mr Lynn.
That meeting did not proceed and a new date was set for June 27, 2011, the prosecuting counsel said. However Mr Lynn was in Brazil, the court heard.
“You’d already gone on June 13, 2011,” said the prosecuting counsel and he had not told An Garda Síochána.
Mr Lynn disagreed. It wasn’t correct that he had left “to avoid the police in any way”, he said. At that point, Mr Justice Martin Nolan intervened: “Did you leave Portugal for Brazil on June 13, 2011?”
“I had moved to Brazil, yes.”
The prosecuting counsel continued. No one was told Mr Lynn would not be available for the interview on June 27, 2011, he put to Mr Lynn.
Mr Lynn again disagreed. The meeting had already “broken down” because one solicitor “couldn’t make it”.
“That was nothing to do with me going to Brazil, absolutely not.”
The prosecution counsel pressed on.
In subsequent correspondence with An Garda Síochána, there was “no mention whatsoever” that Mr Lynn had gone to Brazil and was no longer in the Portuguese jurisdiction, he said.
When a new date was set for a meeting, Mr Lynn did not tell An Garda Síochána he would not be available, the prosecution said. Mr Lynn responded that this was because there was nothing to preclude him from flying back for the meeting.
When Mr Lynn finished in the witness box, his wife of 16 years, Brid Murphy, stepped in.
The couple had never sought to evade the authorities in Brazil, or in Portugal, she told the court. They had been going to Brazil to see a fertility doctor, because she and her husband had been trying for children without success.
A former nurse at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer when she was 26. She said they flew over and back between Portugal and Brazil, before moving there in June 2011.
Their first child was born there two months later. They travelled on their own passports, and when they flew in and out of Europe, had to provide the address of their hotel each time, as they were told they were on a watch list.
Ms Murphy was seven months’ pregnant with her second child when her husband was arrested in Brazil. She said he returned home with five unarmed undercover police. He told her he was being taken into custody and wanted to say goodbye to their son.
They took him in a car, and for five days she did not know if he was alive or dead.
The trial resumes tomorrow.