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File photo. Aaron Brady. PADDY CUMMINS
Court of Appeal

Aaron Brady's lawyers claim late disclosure of documents rendered murder trial unfair

Aaron Brady was jailed in 2020 for a minimum of 40 years for the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe.

DOCUMENTATION THAT LIMITED the evidence two US special agents could give at the trial of Aaron Brady, who was convicted of murdering Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, was not disclosed to his defence team until five months into his trial, the Court of Appeal has been told.

Brady, who was jailed in 2020 for a minimum of 40 years for the murder of the detective, is bidding to overturn his conviction in a six-day hearing before the Court of Appeal.

On the second day of the hearing before the three-judge appeals court, Michael O’Higgins SC, representing Brady, argued that the trial court had erred in refusing to direct an oral hearing on disclosure with respect to documentation in the possession of Homeland Security Intelligence in America.

Another ground of appeal argued today by O’Higgins was the failure by the prosecution at trial to disclose to the defence letters of scope in a timely fashion, which the defence said placed significant limitations on the evidence which Special Agent Mary Anne Wade and Special Agent Matt Katske were willing to give such that it rendered the trial unfair.

During the trial, Wade told prosecution counsel that she worked with gardai in New York who were investigating the murder of Det Gda Donohoe.

On 18 May 2017, she was present when Brady was arrested for being in the US illegally and she seized his mobile phone.

In an often spiky encounter with O’Higgins, who defended Brady during his trial, Wade repeatedly refused to answer questions about the immigration status of key witness Daniel Cahill and insisted she did not promise or offer him anything.

Cahill had testified that Aaron Brady told him on three occasions that he murdered a garda in Ireland.

O’Higgins asked if, regarding the Aaron Brady investigation, there were ever any discussions about telling people who had overstayed their visas that if they failed to cooperate with gardai they would be sent home.

Wade replied: “I’m not going to testify to investigative methods or interview techniques.” She explained that she was bound by a letter from her employer that prevented her from discussing the immigration status of individuals or the methods used by the agency.

In reply, Brendan Grehan SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the letters of scope were disclosed to the defence, albeit late, in May 2020, adding that the defence were being “opportunistic” in their submissions.

He said the letters did not have anything to do with the disclosure of the documentation in the case but were in place because the two special agents were being asked to make themselves available as witnesses in the case.

Aaron Brady (32) previously of New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, is serving a life sentence with a 40-year minimum having been found guilty in 2020 of murdering Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe (41) at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Co Louth on 25 January 2013.

Brady was also sentenced to 14 years for the robbery, a sentence that will run concurrently with the life sentence. Det Gda Donohoe was on a cash escort when he was ambushed by a five-man gang and shot dead. The raiders stole just €7,000 in cash during the robbery, which lasted 58 seconds.

Brady’s trial was also the longest murder case in Irish legal history, lasting 122 court days. The father-of-one was found guilty of the murder of Det Gda Donohoe by an 11 to one majority jury verdict at the Central Criminal Court in August 2020.

The appeal continues tomorrow before Mr Justice John Edwards, presiding, sitting with Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy and Ms Justice Tara Burns, when it is expected that the appellant will raise a complaint regarding witness Molly Staunton who gave testimony via video link from New York during the Covid-19 crisis.

Alison O'Riordan