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Text sent from garda murder accused's phone 90 minutes before fatal shooting was later deleted, court heard


Accused: Aaron Brady. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

Accused: Aaron Brady. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

Accused: Aaron Brady. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

A TEXT sent from the man accused of murdering detective garda Adrian Donohoe to his girlfriend 90 minutes before the fatal shooting was later deleted, the trial has heard.

The communications between Aaron Brady (29), who denies capital murder, and his girlfriend Jessica King were read out in the Central Criminal Court this morning.

In one message, which was deleted but later recovered by investigators, the accused said that he was going to be loading a lorry that night and that his phone was going to go dead.

The jury heard that the text was sent at 7.54pm on January 25, 2013. Det Gda Donohoe was shot dead during the robbery about 90 minutes later.

Aaron Brady, of New Road in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, 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, Co Louth, on January 25, 2013.

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

Under cross examination Garda Inspector Mark Phillips agreed with Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, that Aaron Brady was stopped by gardai and spoken to at around 12.35pm the day after the murder and asked about his movements on the previous evening.

Mr Brady said he was with his girlfriend Jessica King and that 45 minutes after telling gardai this members of the PSNI arrived at his Ms King's house in Cullaville to corroborate this.

She later attended a PSNI station where she surrendered her phone and gave consent for officers to access the device. Tests were carried out and the mobile was later made available to the Garda investigation team, the court heard.

Four texts, sent on the day of the murder between Aaron Brady and Jessica King, were then read out in court.

One, sent from Mr Brady at 14.43, read: "Where did ya get the feed. Am not doing anything have a few things to do later on at about 8 till ten then am doing nothing if ya wanna do something if not i understand, is your ones giving out today'.

The jury heard that his girlfriend was interviewed about this, and said he might "have been away with the lads" and that they would move diesel in a yard in Crossmaglen.

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Later that day the accused sent another text, at 4.52pm, which read: "I was away there for a while had to meet a man there now. I have work at 8 till half ten then thats it..Sure if not Id be stuck in the cold house and am not putting heating oil in it til (his friend) gives money."

Insp Phillips agreed with Mr O'Higgins that when interviewed, Ms King understood this to be in reference to loading lorries in the yard 'where they do be smuggling and washing diesel'.

Another from Mr Brady, at 7.50pm, read: "Aww kk. They won't say nothing to ya will they. Watch any good movies. Its f*cking lasing rain am gonna get soaked now in a while rippin".

In interview his girlfriend said she understood 'rippin' to mean being in a rage.

Jessica King then replied at 7.51pm saying: "Not really a scary one and just dopey ones. They wouldn wanna even talk to me because im like a wasp this day. Rank! What do you have to do."

The jury were then told that there was another message sent that night from Aaron Brady to his girlfriend, who said she deleted this message while waiting in Newry police station because she didn't want to get "the boys like Aaron...or any of the lads in the diesel yard in trouble".

The text, sent at 7.54pm, read: "Just have to load the lorry but it will only take an hour or 2. This phone is gonna go dead. il text ya soon as home home and get it charged. love you"

Insp Phillips agreed with Mr O'Higgins that, from an investigative point of view, the texts indicate that Aaron Brady was working in the diesel yard between 8pm and 9.30pm or 10pm that night.

The witness also accepted that it was one of two versions provided by Aaron Brady which connected him to the diesel yard, and that when Mr Brady gave two voluntary statements to gardai on February 5 and 6, 2013, he said he was only at the yard for up to 15 minutes.

Gardai also had a working theory of when those involved took up position in the field behind the credit union, which Insp Phillips said was at around 8.50pm.

Mr O'Higgins told the court that the time between Cullaville and Lordship Credit Union, according to Google Maps, was 21 minutes.

The jury were also told that the PSNI were asked to conduct a harvesting of CCTV along the entirety of Concession Road, where the diesel yard is located, which Insp Phillips said were then returned to the incident room at Dundalk Garda Station.

The trial continues this afternoon at the Central Criminal Court before Mr Justice Michael White.

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