Court hears forensics found no DNA linking accused to items found at scene of Garda Adrian Donohoe's murder

Court hears forensics found no DNA linking accused to items found at scene of Garda Adrian Donohoe's murder
Murder victim Garda Adrian Donohoe.

Scientists who tested dozens of items found at the scene of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe's shooting found no DNA linking the man accused of his murder to the scene, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Dr Edward Connolly today told prosecution counsel Lorcan Staines SC that he and other scientists at Forensic Science Ireland's laboratories in Phoenix Park, Dublin, examined samples and items from the scene including swabs taken from various cars, a hammer taken from one of the cars, cigarette butts, a handbag, car keys, chewing gum, gloves and a €2 coin.

He also tested items taken from a car that was found burned out in Armagh and believed to have been involved in the shooting. These included a shotgun cartridge, Mary Black and Lady Gaga CDs, a plastic wallet, a Tayto crisp packet, a cable tie, a Starburst sweet wrapper and a popcorn packet.

Under cross-examination, the witness agreed with Fiona Murphy SC for the defence that no DNA matching the accused man Aaron Brady was found on any of the items tested.

He said various profiles were generated including three unknown males which were checked against the national database but returned no matches. Other profiles matched gardaí or witnesses who were at the scene.

Aaron Brady (aged 28) from New Road, Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh, has pleaded not guilty to the capital murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe (aged 41) who was then a member of An Garda Siochana on active duty on January 25, 2013 at Lordship Credit Union, Bellurgan, Co Louth. Mr Brady has also pleaded not guilty to a charge of robbing approximately €7,000 in cash and assorted cheques on the same date and at the same location.

Christopher Reilly told Mr Staines that on March 1, 2013, he responded to an internet advertisement for a W-reg BMW sports automatic. He spoke on the phone to a man calling himself 'James' who claimed to be the owner of the car.

The man told Mr Reilly that he had bought the car in August 2012 but he wasn't the registered owner because he wanted to keep the number of previous owners down.

After doing a background check on website cartell.ie, Mr Reilly agreed to meet James at a Texaco garage in Moy, Co Tyrone. James arrived in the BMW on his own and they agreed a final price of €15,150.

Before he left, James handed over documents for the car and gave Mr Reilly €50 "for good luck". The witness described the man he met as having short, fair hair.

He was stocky, clean shaven, aged in his mid-20s and had a Northern Irish accent. He also seemed "relaxed".

In August 2013, Mr Reilly was contacted by a garda who wanted to inspect the BMW. The garda examined the car and told Mr Reilly that he needed to seize it as gardaí in Dundalk wanted to examine it in relation to a "serious crime." Mr Reilly handed the car and relevant documentation over to gardaí.

Ballistics expert Detective Garda Seamus O'Donnell previously gave evidence that he believed the gun that fired the fatal shot was six to seven feet away from Det. Gda Donohoe's face when it was fired.

Under cross-examination today, he agreed with Ms Murphy for the defence that safety pins on guns like the one used in the shooting can be modified so that they don't work and that the pressure required to pull the trigger varies.

He further agreed that the age of a firearm, the manner of its use and the way it is maintained will impact on it. He said the difficulty in aiming while running would depend on the experience of the shooter.

The witness agreed that guns can be fitted with a device called a choker which keeps the gun pellets together for longer after they emerge from the barrel and, if used in this case, that might affect his estimate that the gun was six to seven feet from Det. Gda Donohoe's head.

The trial continues in front of Justice Michael White and a jury of eight men and seven women.

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