Prosecution: Redmond's actions 'reeked of corruption'

Closing speeches have concluded in George Redmond's corruption trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court with the prosecution telling the jury on day-15 of the trial that his actions "reeked of corruption".

Prosecuting counsel, Ms Pauline Walley SC (with Mr Patrick McGrath BL), urged the jury not to be swayed by Mr Redmond's age or assume because "he was old he was in his dotage".

Defence council, Mr Brendan Grehan SC (with Mr Angus Buttanshaw BL), maintained in his speech that there was not a "scintilla of evidence that Mr Redmond acted improperly" and said the Criminal Assets Bureau "got their teeth in Mr Redmond and refused to let go."

Mr Redmond, aged 84, of College Gate, Castleknock, has pleaded not guilty to two charges arising out of a compulsory purchase order on 167 acres of land at Buzzardstown and Coolmine, in north-west Dublin when he was an Assistant County Manager.

He denies receiving IR£10,000 from the late Fianna Fáil councillor Mr Patrick Dunne on a date between October 10, 1985 and June 26, 1989, as an inducement in respect of the compulsory purchase order (CPO) and to receiving the money "as a reward for showing favour to another" in relation to the same land.

Ms Walley told the jury of three women and eight men that Mr Redmond was "firing on all cylinders" when he was interviewed by gardaí and was not confused or misled. She said he was fully aware he was there to talk about bribery and corruption as well as tax evasion.

She said that Mr Redmond made five voluntary statements to gardaí after his arrest in 1999 admitting that Patrick Dunne, along with several other businessmen, gave him the money.

She asked the jury to consider if his retraction of this statement at the Flood (now Mahon) Tribunal, was "credible or believable" and why he would choose to withdraw that one admission out of all the others he made.

"Why would he lie about a transaction that he can be connected back to. It's because it was not a lie. He was telling the gardaí the truth and all the surrounding factors point in that direction," she said.

Ms Walley outlined what she saw as the sequence of events leading up to the purchase of Buzzardstown by Dublin County Council. She said the Council put in place a CPO on the land in 1980 but this was challenged in the High Court by the owner, Mrs Mary Seagrave.

Ms Walley said the evidence showed Mrs Seagrave dropped her legal challenge to the CPO when her husband agreed to buy another farm from businessman, Mr Pino Harris.

Ms Walley said that after this, the Seagraves were "extremely anxious" to sell the Buzzardstown land but were left "in limbo" because Mr Redmond did not want to complete the CPO, believing there was no need for the council to acquire more land in that area.

Mr Redmond told the Seagraves' solicitor there was no intention to complete the CPO at that time, meaning they couldn't go ahead with the purchase of Mr Harris's farm.

Ms Walley said Mr Redmond decided to purchase the land outright in 1986, despite earlier saying that Council finances were "over-stretched".

She told the jury that in his admissions to gardaí, he said: "He paid me IR£10,000 in relation to a compulsory purchase of land in Buzzardstown owned by a man called Seagrave. I don't really know why I was paid the IR£10,000 but I accepted it. Dunne did work for Pino, nothing was said."

Ms Walley suggested this statement "reeked of corruption". She said IR£10,000 at the time was a large amount of money, "a third of the salary of a man in a senior position".

"He had a problem with Buzzardstown, then all of a sudden he signed an order to buy it, at a time when money was scarce," prosecuting counsel said.

Referring to Mr Redmond's retraction at the Flood Tribunal, she said there was one reason for this: "He could see the train coming down the tracks and that train was a Buzzardstown corrupt payment prosecution."

Mr Grehan said Mr Redmond had made his admissions to gardaí "for one reason, to get his story in there before the tax assessments were issued." He said his client was never questioned directly about bribery and corruption and said these things "didn't seem to come into it."

He explained Mr Redmond's retraction of the statement by saying he didn't want to perjure himself at the Flood Tribunal.

"A man of Mr Redmond's vintage would not want to tell a lie on oath for civil or religious reasons."

Mr Grehan concluded: "This is a very simple case despite the mountains of paperwork you have had to digest. Its about a lie not on oath versus an account given in public on oath to the Flood Tribunal.

"And there is a logical, understandable reason why he lied to gardaí and a logical reason, both legally and morally, why he wouldn't lie to Flood. I invite you to find him not guilty."

The jury will begin its deliberations tomorrow after being charged by Judge Joseph Matthews.

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