Saturday 24 February 2018

Second witness in murder trial retracts statement, claiming he was in fear of gardai

A SECOND witness in a murder trial has retracted his statement which implicates the accused, stating he made it because he was in fear of gardai.

Andrew Sheridan said in evidence during day four of the trial of Jonathan Douglas who is accused of murdering Aidan Byrne, that his initial statement to gardai on March 6, 2010 was “not true.”

He told defence counsel Mr Michael O'Higgins, SC, he felt “intimidated and fear” when up to ten gardai called to his house two weeks after the shooting dead of Mr Byrne as they found him in possession of two small bags of cocaine and some hash.

“They found some cocaine and some hash in my house and I thought then I was in serious trouble,” said Mr Sheridan, who is the boyfriend of the accused's step-niece, Stacey Douglas.

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

Mr Sheridan said he was asked to go to the Bridewell Garda Station to make a statement in relation to the shooting of Mr Byrne as he said gardai told him they were aware the accused had come to his and Stacey's house moments after the shooting.

“They told me Stacey had said Jonathan had come to our house with a gun and if I said the same thing I'd be gone home so I went along with them with the statement,” said Mr Sheridan.

“They recorded the reading back of the statement to me and said all I have to do is say yes after every sentence and sign my initials to it,” he continued.

He said he “would have done anything to get out of the garda station” that morning. He denies he is afraid to give evidence in the trial and denies he was forced to retract his statement.

In his original statement to gardai,which was read out in court by prosecuting counsel Mr Gerard Clarke, SC Mr Sheridan said Douglas called to the house at around 9pm on Saturday, February 20, 2010. He said there was a knock on the door and a couple of taps on the window before Stacey opened the door and asked Douglas, whose nickname is Yuka, what does he want and what is he after doing.

“He had the hood of his top pulled over his head and he just said to me “Alright” and he went into the kitchen with Stacey,” Mr Sheridan said in his statement.

“I could hear Stacey asking him 'who were you after fighting with' and 'what are you after doing,” the statement continued.

“He seemed agitated and started to wash his hands in the kitchen sink. He had a pale complexion when he walked into the sitting room. He stood there for about thirty seconds and looked dazed and confused.”

Mr Sheridan told gardai Douglas “pulled up his hoodie top, winked and me and showed me a gun in the waistband of his tracksuit.”

“He was definitely doing this to show off to be a hard man and he definitely didn't wink at me to threaten me or anything. Then he left the house,” Mr Sheridan said.

He said after Douglas left the house, Stacey started to cry and told him Douglas told her he had shot someone.

“She said he was waiting in the Cattle Market (Drumalee estate) on someone to come and then shot him. Douglas said he would sort her out, I took this to mean sort her out with money or a bribe or something but she told him she didn't want anything to do with him,” his statement continued.

However, in the witness box, Mr Sheridan said Douglas called to the house, followed Stacey into the kitchen and “stayed around seven to ten minutes,” changing his tracksuit bottoms because he got sick on them.

He denied Douglas showed him a gun and said “my version in court is the truth.”

Earlier the trial heard evidence from Stacey Douglas, who also retracted her initial statement, which implicates the accused in the murder, saying she made it because gardai told her “to tell them what they wanted to hear,” so she could go home. She also claimed gardai threatened that her daughter would be taken away from her.

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

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