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State pays €45k a year to murder-trial supergrass

A MURDER accomplice turned prosecution witness is paid €45,000 every year by the State, a murder trial has heard.

Joseph O'Brien (28) is in the Witness Protection Programme and receives the money – which includes rent and healthcare allowances – for himself, his partner and two children.

The murder trial of Christopher Zambra previously heard that O'Brien – who now lives abroad – has been granted a form of immunity, despite admitting his part in a Dublin pub murder.

Under the Witness Protection Security Programme, the taxpayer pays him €45,000 a year.

A normal PAYE worker would have to earn €65,000 in gross pay to have such an income, the Central Criminal Court heard.

A detective superintendent confirmed the payments to O'Brien while being cross-examined by defence counsel for Christopher Zambra.

Zambra (38), of Galtymore Road in Drimnagh, has pleaded not guilty to murdering John Carroll. Carroll, of Charlemont Street, was shot dead on February 18, 2009, in Grumpy Jacks pub in The Coombe.

Accomplice-turned-state witness O'Brien has testified that Zambra ordered the murder.

O'Brien said that the accused told him to source the motorbike used in the killing and to destroy it afterwards.

The trial has heard that O'Brien was never charged in connection with the murder, despite admitting involvement.

Now in the Witness Security Programme and living in another jurisdiction, he testified in the knowledge that nothing he said could be used against him.

Detective Superintendent Liam King yesterday confirmed that the State pays O'Brien, his partner and two children about €45,000 in cash and allowances annually as part of the WSP.

 

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Det Supt King, who is responsible for the programme, agreed with Michael O'Higgins, defending, that a person would need to earn €65,000 per year gross in order to end up with that sum.

He had already explained that the family received the equivalent of a similar family on social welfare, along with a contribution towards utilities, €315 a week in rent allowance and at least €40 a week for healthcare.

He also confirmed that the DPP had not been informed that a file on O'Brien existed in the possession of the host force outside the jurisdiction.

He agreed that this foreign force was precluded from voluntarily disclosing its records for security reasons.

He also agreed that steps could have been taken to have this information released on a non-voluntary basis.

After making inquiries, he also said O'Brien's sworn testimony that his partner was now his former partner was incorrect.

Previously, the Central Criminal Court heard evidence from retired Detective Superintendent PJ Browne.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of eight women and four men.

hnews@herald.ie


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