Garda murder accused told Bronx waitress that he 'had shot a cop in Ireland', trial hears
The man accused of the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe told an American woman he was living in fear of police coming to his New York apartment "because he had shot a cop in Ireland", the trial has heard.
Molly Staunton (24) was in a relationship with a housemate of Aaron Brady (29) in the summer of 2016 when he is alleged to have told her that he was "carrying around guilt having murdered a cop in Ireland".
The witness, who was giving evidence via video link from her home in New York, told the Central Criminal Court that Mr Brady said "he was the most feared man in Ireland".
However, under cross-examination she agreed with defence counsel when it was put to her that Mr Brady was concerned and upset that gardai were looking for him and that he "never made any admission having carried out that shooting".
The defendant has pleaded not guilty to the capital murder of Det Gda Donohoe, who was then a member of An Garda Siochana acting in the course of his duty, at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Dundalk, Co Louth, on January 25, 2013.
Mr Brady, of New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, also denies robbery of around €7,000 in cash and assorted cheques from Pat Bellew at the same location on the same date.
The court heard that Ms Staunton is an American citizen who lives in the Bronx but that her father is originally from Mayo and her mother from Clare.
The witness said that in January 2016 she was aged 20 and in a relationship with Tommy McGeary, who was originally from Armagh, and that he lived in an apartment with Mr Brady in Woodlawn, the Bronx.
Ms Staunton said another man who was also from Armagh, Ronan Flynn, lived at the property with her boyfriend and the accused.
The court heard Ms Staunton worked as a waitress at the Press Box pub in New York and that she socialised in bars including Behan's and the Rambling House, both in the Bronx.
Ms Staunton said that one evening in July 2016 between 7pm and 8pm she was at her boyfriend's house, which she would visit almost daily.
The witness said they were on a couch in the sitting room and that Mr Brady had come out of his bedroom.
Ms Staunton said he was "intoxicated" and was "going kind of crazy" as well as "crying, going on a huge rant".
She added that Mr Brady was "really in distress about his life, about his son and trying to be a good father".
She said it was hard to understand his accent but that he was ranting about money and the future.
The court heard that the accused had a girlfriend, Danielle Healy, who was from Kerry, and that she was expecting the couple's son at the time.
Lead prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC then asked the witness what it was that she heard Mr Brady say.
Ms Staunton replied: "He said that he was in fear of the cops coming to the apartment because he had shot a cop in Ireland and that he was worried that he didn't have enough money to take care of his son."
She added that Mr Brady said "he was the most feared man in Ireland".
The witness said she was "quite in shock" and she "didn't really believe it".
Ms Staunton also told the court that Mr Brady said "he had murdered someone in Ireland and that he had to carry around that guilt having murdered a cop in Ireland".
"He said he needed money, that he didn't want to be working in construction and that he wanted to be a good father," the witness told Mr Grehan.
"He said he wanted to be different than his own father and wanted to be a good father to his son.
"Ronan tried to calm him down and he eventually went back into his room."
The court heard that agents attached to US Homeland Security visited Ms Staunton's home in August 2017 looking for Tommy McGeary, who she was no longer in a relationship with.
The witness said she told the agents that she had known Mr Brady and later made a statement to gardai.
Ms Staunton said Mr McGeary moved out of the apartment in November and that Mr Brady moved out as well to live with Ms Healy.
Under cross-examination from defence counsel Fiona Murphy SC, Ms Staunton said that she "got on fine" with Mr Brady but that they were not friends.
Ms Murphy put it to the witness that her client "denies making any confession to you or to anyone else about shooting a guard" and that the reason he denies this is "because he never shot a guard".
She also put it to Ms Staunton that Mr Brady was concerned that gardai were looking for him and that he "never made any admission himself having carried out that shooting", to which the witness said: "That is correct."
The trial continues before Mr Justice Michael White and the jury of six men and seven women.