Former CAB officer gives evidence in George Redmond corruption trial

A former Criminal Assets Bureau officer has given evidence at the corruption trial of George Redmond that he admitted in interview he received Irl£10,000 from the Fianna Fáil Councillor, Patrick Dunne.

Detective Superintendent Pat Byrne, told prosecuting counsel, Ms Pauline Walley SC (with Mr Patrick McGrath BL) that the former Dublin Assistant County Manager said in a voluntary statement he had received the money from the late Mr Dunne in relation to the purchase of lands at Buzzardstown in West Dublin.

Det Supt Byrne agreed under cross examination by defence counsel, Mr Brendan Grehan SC (with Mr Angus Buttanshaw BL), that Mr Redmond later withdrew this admission at the Mahon Tribunal.

Det Supt Byrne said Mr Redmond made the admission in 1999 a month after his arrest at Dublin Airport by CAB officers in relation to money laundering and tax evasion charges. Mr Redmond was arriving back from the Isle of Man, carrying £300,000 (€376,975).

He said Mr Redmond was arrested in the arrivals hall on February 19, 1999 and brought to Harcourt Terrace Garda Station where he asked to see a doctor, saying "he felt a little unwell".

After a medical examination, the doctor said he was fit to be interviewed. He was released the next day without charge following his interview.

Det Supt Byrne said that one month later, Mr Redmond came into the station voluntarily and admitted: "I mentioned Pat Dunne who was a member of the County Council. He paid me £10,000 in relation to a compulsory purchase order of land in Buzzardstown owned by a man called Seagrave. I don't know why I was paid the money but I took it."

Det Supt Byrne agreed with Mr Grehan who read a transcript from the Tribunal that when the matter came up there in May 2000, Mr Redmond said his previous admission was "not true."

"He paid me nothing. I retract that statement and I sincerely apologise to the gardaí for having made it and I apologise to his (Mr Dunne) estate and family", Mr Redmond told tribunal counsel, Desmond O'Neill SC.

"I don't know what got into me. It was a peculiar business, Buzzardstown," he said when asked at the Tribunal by Mr O'Neill why he made the statement.

Mr Grehan said Mr Redmond told the Tribunal he was "pressured" into signing the compulsory purchase order and said he didn't think it was necessary because "we didn't need more local authority houses".

Mr Redmond said at the Tribunal: "We had all this land further up the road and in those days we were attempting to get tenants in just to prevent vandalism."

Det Supt Byrne also agreed with Mr Grehan that the accused told the Tribunal he felt "pressured" by Mr Dunne to complete the purchase of the Buzzardstown land alleging: "He would stick his nose in and say, 'have you signed that order to treat yet'?" and that he said he only signed it when he received orders to do so.

Det Supt Byrne told Mr Grehan that Mr Redmond was carrying Ir£200,000 in cash and around Ir£100,000 in other forms when he and eight other officers arrested him as he arrived back from the Isle of Man.

He was interviewed three times in relation to tax and money laundering offences during which he described his situation as "ruinous"

He told Gardaí: "The world has ceased to exist for me tonight. It's shattering to say the least. I can't see myself saying much more. It's fair to say I had the Ir£200,000 at the airport."

Det Supt Byrne said he understood Mr Redmond owed the Revenue Commissioners Ir£548,000 which after interest and penalties could amount to Ir£2.5 million. He agreed with Mr Grehan that he was forced to sell his house of 30 years to pay the tax bill.

He also agreed that before he left custody the next day, Mr Redmond requested and received a meeting with the then CAB Chief, Fachtna Murphy, now Garda Commissioner. Commissioner Murphy agreed to have an unmarked van take him home to avoid the media "circus" that had gathered outside the station.

When asked by Mr Grehan how the media became aware of Mr Redmond's arrest Det Supt Byrne said he had "no idea".

Det Supt Byrne agreed with Mr Grehan he was aware of a previous prosecution against Mr Redmond in 2003 involving an alleged corrupt payment from a Mr Brendan Fassnidge but said he was never asked to make follow-up interviews in relation to this.

It was day-10 of the trial and Det Supt Byrne was the first witness to give evidence in the presence of the jury after six days of legal argument in its absence.

The hearing continues before Judge Joseph Matthews and the jury of three women and eight men.

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