Sunday 18 March 2018

Prosecution witnesses were in fear of giving evidence, detective tells murder trial

Nicola Donnelly

A DETECTIVE investigating a murder has told a jury the two main prosecution witnesses had expressed concerns about their initial statements because they were in fear of giving evidence.

The garda’s evidence came on day five of the trial of Jonathan Douglas who is accused of murdering Aidan Byrne.

Detective Sergeant Kevin Daly told defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC that a step-niece of the accused, Stacey Douglas and her boyfriend Andrew Sheridan made statements that the accused arrived at their house on the night of the murder and showed them a gun.

Mr Byrne was shot ten times as he sat in the passenger seat of a car in the cattle market at Drumalee estate, Dublin about 8.40pm. The bullets hit Mr Byrne in the chest and abdomen and he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.

Mr Douglas (27), of O'Devaney Gardens, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the murder of Mr Byrne at Drumalee Avenue in Dublin on February 20, 2010.

However, Det Daly said it was not because the contents of the statement were untrue but that they told him they had a fear of giving evidence at the trial.

“Once a fear was expressed by them after they gave their statements, I then recorded the reading over of it and they signed it,” Det Daly told the defence counsel.

He denied Mr Sheridan told gardai a number of times his statement was untrue.

He told prosecuting counsel Gerard Clarke he met Mr Sheridan's father in March 2010 shortly after Ms Douglas and Mr Sheridan gave their statements to gardai, and his father enquired about the safety and security of the two for providing witness statements.

He also said he met Ms Douglas and Mr Sheridan in May 2011 to discuss the court process which is when, he said, they again expressed a fear of giving evidence.

Defence counsel suggested to Det Daly that it was “bonkers” not to have taken a video recording of Ms Douglas and Mr Sheridan expressing that they were not standing over their statements because of fear and that not a single note of the meeting was taken.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Paul Carney and a jury of seven men and five women.

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