THE grinning from ear to ear of the defendants gave the game away. Before the jury was recalled yesterday, it quickly became apparent in Court 13 at Dublin's Criminal Courts of Justice that the DPP was dropping all corruption charges against businessman Jim Kennedy and four politicians.
Gibraltar-based Mr Kennedy stood accused, via "middleman" Frank Dunlop, of lining the pockets of one serving and three former councillors to rezone valuable lands in Dublin.
Mr Kennedy, serving councillor Tony Fox and former councillors Colm McGrath, Don Lydon and Liam Cosgrave all denied the money-for-votes charges.
In truth, there had been few laughs during this testy four-week trial.
It kicked off with a stern warning to the media that they would face serious sanctions if the case was misreported in any way.
The real drama, however, took place during the evidence provided by jailed lobbyist Frank Dunlop.
He had already been the star witness in Dublin Castle after his "Spy Wednesday" conversion in April 2000 when then planning inquiry tribunal chairman Mr Justice Feargus Flood told him to reflect on his evidence.
The former spin doctor had then to be "half-carried, half-dragged" from the witness box to his car before his Damascene conversion.
If the passage of time and an 18-month jail sentence had bowed Dunlop, he did not initially show it during a series of heated exchanges.
Laughter was stifled when the "involuntarily retired" lobbyist told the prosecution that he only dealt in cash when bribing politicians.
"I don't mean to be facetious," he told the court. "But there was only one currency: cash."
The cross-examination of Mr Dunlop, a former seminarian, by senior counsel Michael O'Higgins, Mr Kennedy's lawyer, was a fraught affair.
Mr Dunlop admitted obscuring references to the late politician Liam Lawlor and property developer Owen O'Callaghan from his diary. The diary had been presented to the Mahon Tribunal, which was set up to investigate planning corruption.
Mr O'Higgins suggested to Mr Dunlop that because of the obscured entries, the diary has been referred to as "looking like a Jackson Pollock painting".
The impressionist artist was known for "throwing paint randomly at the canvas", explained Mr O'Higgins, drawing rare, wry smiles from the jury.
The recent heatwave seemed to loom large in the often combustible atmosphere at the Criminal Courts of Justice.
It peaked when Mr Dunlop was reprimanded for making a prejudicial remark about Don Lydon, one of the accused politicians.
The jury was never told why the case against Mr Lydon collapsed on Monday.
Nor was it aware of the full extent of Mr Dunlop's deteriorating health which ultimately led to the collapse of the biggest corruption trial in recent memory.
For days it had been expected that the jury would be discharged and a re-trial ordered.
Now there is no prospect of anyone being charged and convicted.