An FBI spy testifying against alleged Real IRA chief Michael McKevitt suggested he should be hypnotised in order to remember details of meetings with dissident republicans which he infiltrated, a court heard today.
Trucking company boss turned informer David Rupert said he made the suggestion to MI5, but that it was turned down.
He thought the method would help him remember details such as phone numbers and the names of people at meetings he attended in Ireland, he said.
The 51-year-old US businessman infiltrated dissident republican groups for the American and British security services during the 1990s.
He is the star witness in the trial of McKevitt, 53, of Blackrock, Dundalk, Co Louth, who denies directing and being a member of the Real IRA.
Mr Rupert told Dublin’s Special Criminal Court that he had a system where he would go to a meeting and try to remember all the details he could when he reported back to the Security Services.
When he got back he was asked questions to prompt his memory, he said.
“I read an article ... about hypnosis being used to look into peoples’ memories,” he told the court.
“I brought the subject up to the British Security Services (MI5) and asked if they would consider that so that they could get more of the information I lost in transit.”
He added: “They said they didn’t think it would be necessary.”
During intensive cross-examination the striking 6ft 5in 20-stone informer also disclosed that while he was reporting to the Security Services various members would have referred to his position as “A snitch.”
He said this happened several times over his 10-year career with the FBI but that he could not recall any specific incidences.
Asked by defence counsel Hugh Hartnett whether he ever indicated to anybody that he had been treated like a “low-life criminal informer”, he replied that he could have done.
“It is likely I would have felt that,” he added.
Mr Hartnett also asked whether the Gardaí indicated that they had lost confidence in him while he was an agent.
Mr Rupert said he had not been aware of this. Neither was he aware that the British Security Services had given the same indication.
Mr Hartnett asked Mr Rupert whether he had reported that Garda Detective Superintendent Dermot Jennings – now Assistant Commissioner – had told him he did
not care about Northern Ireland and only cared about the Republic.
Mr Rupert replied that he did say this but that he considered it a “jurisdictional matter”.
He compared this with one US policing agency not being concerned with the work of another.
Asked whether Detective Superintendent Jennings expressed indifference towards terrorism in Northern Ireland, he said: “I could have said that.
“I do recall something on that line, but thought it over and it was a jurisdictional thing.”
The defence barrister also asked Mr Rupert about a period in his life when he was short of money but managed to negotiate his contract with the FBI.
Asked whether he picked himself up after “another financial disaster” he replied: “That’s what America’s all about.”
The spy was also questioned explicitly about his tax returns.
On several occasions he replied: “I filed all my tax returns properly.”
The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.