No case against Lordship Credit Union robbery accused - says Brendan Treanor’s barrister in closing argument

James Flynn and Brendan Treanor (left) are charged with the robbery of €7,000 at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Co Louth, on January 25, 2013. Aaron Brady (top right) was convicted of the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe (bottom right).

The Argus

There is no case against one of the men accused of participation in the credit union robbery that resulted in the death of Det Gda Adrian Donohoe, a barrister has argued before the Special Criminal Court.

Sean Guerin SC delivered his closing speech to the three-judge, non-jury court on Wednesday on behalf of Brendan Treanor, saying that there is no evidence his client left his home on the evening of the robbery and that the prosecution relied on speculation and theories that “make no sense”.

There is, he said, a more convincing case to be made against at least two others who are not before the courts and he accused the prosecution of “desperation” in how it had put forward its evidence.

Counsel for the second accused, James Flynn, will deliver his closing speech.

Brendan Treanor (34), previously of Emer Terrace, Castletown Road, Dundalk, Co Louth, and James Flynn (32) from South Armagh are charged with the robbery of €7,000 at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Co Louth, on January 25, 2013.

Both men are also charged that between September 11, 2012, and 23 January 2013, they conspired with convicted Garda-killer Aaron Brady and others to enter residential premises with the intention of stealing car keys.

The prosecution alleges that Mr Treanor and Mr Flynn were part of a group of young men who conspired to break into houses to steal car keys and then quietly make off with the cars.

Both accused have pleaded not guilty to each charge.

Aaron Brady (31) previously of New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, is serving a life sentence with a 40-year minimum having been found guilty of murdering Det Gda Adrian Donohoe and of the robbery at Lordship. He denied any involvement in the robbery and is awaiting an appeal against his conviction.

Mr Guerin told the court that when assessing a circumstantial case it doesn’t matter if there are ten, one hundred or one thousand pieces of evidence, one piece that contradicts the narrative is “more powerful than all of that”. He warned of the dangers of speculation where there is an absence of direct evidence.

Counsel said the prosecution had asserted without evidence that “spotter cars” were used in the robbery. He said they had also ignored the direct evidence of one witness who said that the driver of the getaway car, a stolen Volkswagen Passat, was a woman.

Mr Guerin said it is the State’s case that his client was with Mr Flynn and Aaron Brady on the day of the robbery but they dropped Mr Treanor home at Slieve View in South Armagh that evening. Counsel said that the prosecution is alleging that Mr Treanor made his way from there to Lordship at about 8.45pm, 45 minutes ahead of the robbery, but there is no evidence that he even left his house. “How does he get there?” he asked, in circumstances where Mr Treanor did not have a car. Mr Guerin said it “makes no sense” that Brady and Mr Flynn would have dropped Mr Treanor at Slieve View if he was to take part in the robbery at Lordship a couple of hours later.

If Mr Treanor had travelled from Slieve View to Lordship 45 minutes ahead of the robbery, Mr Guerin said he would have been “sitting in a muddy field getting soaking wet”. On the prosecution case, Mr Treanor was one of four people who jumped over the wall of the credit union as a convoy of cars carrying cash and gardai was blocked into the car park by the stolen Volkswagen Passat.

Within 15 minutes Mr Treanor was back at home when his then girlfriend said she saw him for the first time that evening. It takes 15 minutes to get from Lordship to Mr Treanor’s address, counsel said, and in that time he would also have to dispose of his muddy, wet clothing and tidy himself up. His girlfriend “didn’t say she saw any of those things,” Mr Guerin said, so the court must conclude he wasn’t wearing wet or muddy clothes, his hair was not wet and he did not try to get rid of the clothes he had been wearing. Counsel said the prosecution had “ignored the reality of life” in trying to make precise calculations about timings.

Mr Guerin also pointed out that one witness had seen a dark-coloured Volkswagen Passat about five minutes after the robbery driving at speed the wrong way around a roundabout near the scene of the robbery and onto the M1 heading south towards Dublin, in the opposite direction of Mr Treanor’s home. Mr Guerin asked if this could be a coincidence or was it the same Passat used to block the car park by the robbers. Counsel said the likelihood is that the getaway driver, having initially headed north on the Ballymascanlon Road, as seen by other witnesses, changed their mind and went south, away from Slieve View. “The closer you examine the evidence, the further away from Mr Treanor you get,” he said.

Counsel said that there is an alternative view of a tattoo on Mr Treanor’s back that the prosecution alleged was a “glorification” of Mr Treanor’s role in the Lordship robbery. The tattoo contains four gangsters, one holding a long-arm firearm and a woman wearing a balaclava and holding a handgun. It also depicts rolls of money and a BMW with the number plates “Boss BFT”. In 2013 Mr Treanor was accused online and in the national media of being one of the Lordship robbers and the prosecution said in those circumstances it was extraordinary that in 2018 he chose to get a tattoo with those features.

Mr Guerin said the prosecution had alleged that the accusation would be to the front of Mr Treanor’s mind and would prevent him getting a tattoo with “any representation of criminality in any form”. Mr Guerin said you could also consider that five years after “being demonized” in the media and online he was “entitled to forget about it and move on”.

Mr Guerin said it is well established that his client was friendly with Mr Flynn and Mr Brady but that is not evidence of guilt. He said he was dropped off at his home on the night of the robbery by Brady and Mr Flynn “in circumstances which make no sense in terms of a conspiracy” and there was no evidence he left his home again that night. Even if he did, it is not reasonable, counsel said, that Mr Treanor could have been dropped back home in time for his girlfriend to see him within 15 minutes of the robbery “in the manner in which she did”.

He said there are others who were in contact with Aaron Brady on the day against whom there is “a more convincing case to be made” that they were involved in the robbery. Mr Guerin suggested the prosecution had introduced speculation about spotter cars because the defence had established the likelihood that these two other people were involved so the prosecution had to increase the number of roles in the robbery to leave room for Mr Treanor as one of the four raiders in the car park. Mr Guerin said the speculation about spotter cars was a sign of “desperation” on the part of the prosecution.

There is, counsel said, “no case against Mr Treanor and no jury properly directed could convict”. He asked the court to acquit Mr Treanor of the robbery charge.

In relation to conspiracy to commit burglaries, Mr Guerin said there is no evidence of any agreement or “overarching conspiracy” and no evidence that Mr Treanor committed any of the burglaries.