Confession was produced by gardaí, claims Nash

A man charged with a 1997 double murder said a confession made by him in relation to the killings was “produced” by gardaí, a jury has heard.

Mark Nash, aged 42, who has last addresses at Prussia St and Clonliffe Rd in Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the murder of Sylvia Shields, 60, and Mary Callanan, 61, between March 6 and 7, 1997.

In December 1999, now assistant commissioner Derek Byrne participated in an interview with Mr Nash at the Bridewell Garda Station concerning his confession to gardaí in Galway on August 16, 1997, to the murder of two women in Grangegorman.

The court heard how the accused described his confession at that time to Mr Byrne as “a note” made in Mill St Garda Station “produced by gardaí in Mill St rather by myself.”

Mr Nash later said in the statement, as recounted by Asst Comm Byrne yesterday in court, “I never said they made up 100% of my statement.”

Mr Nash also said in his statement “no matter how nice you guards are, I don’t trust the gardaí, when you sit through that type of thing, it’s better to keep your mouth shut as words are twisted.”

Brendan Grehan, prosecuting, told the court on September 14, 1998, Asst Comm Byrne was handed an evidence bag containing a “black velvet pin stripped jacket” by Detective Superintendent Martin Donnellan.

Asst Com Byrne said he also took possession of black Caterpillar boots following a search of the home of Mr Nash which he had in his control until May 19, 2005.

These items were handed over to now retired Det Sgt Alan Bailey, who was attached to the Serious Crime Unit of Bridewell station.

Patrick McGrath, defending, told the court in 1997, two people had confessed to the “high profile murders” of two women in Grangegorman and well over 1,000 lines of enquiry were pursued.

Dean Lyons, who died in the UK in 2000, was the first person who made an independent admission.

“A number of persons said they had overheard information suggesting that Dean Lyons had been involved in the confessions of the murders,” Asst Com Byrne told the court.

In July 1997, Dean Lyons was charged with the double murder of the women.

The court also heard Mr Lyons was visited in prison by his mother and father at the time, where he also confessed to them, how he had committed the murders.

A month later, on August 16 and 17, 1997, the court heard Mr Nash made an independent admission to the murder of the two women.

This “was probably unprecedented in the history of the State?” Mr McGrath asked Asst Comm Byrne.

“I had not experienced this previously and there was concern to get to the bottom of how these independent admissions could be made and to get to the truth,” he replied.

Asst Comm Byrne said various reports were conducted to see whether Mr Lyon’s statement was consistent with the known facts.

It was concluded by Det McHugh that Mr Lyons was not the man who had committed the killings and in April 1998, the charge was withdrawn from Mr Lyons.

The court heard that it was not until 1999 that Mr Lyons made a formal retraction of his admissions through a solicitor in a solicitor’s office.

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