Garda denies offering Geoghegan murder accused deal for guilty plea

The solicitor of the 26-year-old man on trial for Shane Geoghegan’s murder told detectives that he would admit to the killing if the mother of his sick child was released from custody.

The solicitor of the 26-year-old man on trial for Shane Geoghegan’s murder told detectives that he would admit to the killing if the mother of his sick child was released from custody.

The conversation emerged on day seven of the Central Criminal Court trial of Barry Doyle, who is charged with murdering the 28-year-old rugby player on November 9, 2008.

The Garryowen player was shot near his home in a case of mistaken identity. Barry Doyle, a father-of-three from Portland Row, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to his murder at Clonmore, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle in Limerick.

Detective Sgt Mark Philips of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation spent today being cross examined by Barry Doyle’s barrister, Martin O’Rourke QC.

D Sgt Philips testified that the defendant’s solicitor had approached himself and his colleague, D Gda Brian Hanley, in February 2009, shortly before the interview in which the accused admitted to the killing.

He said that Michael O’Donnell began by saying that the meeting was off the record and no memo should be taken.

“He stated that Barry Doyle would admit to killing Shane Geoghegan if his girlfriend, Vicki Gunnery, was released,” D Sgt Philips read from an aid memoir the detectives prepared later that night.

He said they told him that this was not possible, that they needed his client to tell the truth and that once he told the truth, they’d have no reason to detain Vicki Gunnery any further.

He said that Mr O’Donnell also said that Barry Doyle would answer only one question, that he’d committed the murder.

D Sgt Philips said he and his colleague again said that this would not be possible and that Barry Doyle would have to admit his involvement in interview. They told him that they had to know he was telling the truth and not just admitting to it to get Ms Gunnery out of custody.

He said that Mr O’Donnell suggested that they could arrest her again.

Mr O’Donnell then had a consultation with his client in his cell before returning to the detectives.

“Mr O’Donnell again stated that Barry Doyle would not admit to anything prior to his girlfriend being released,” said D Sgt Philips.

“I said to Mr O’Donnell that would be an inducement and there was no possible way for that to happen,” he continued, explaining that no court would accept such evidence.

“Sure wouldn’t you have it on camera?” replied Mr O’Donnell, according to the detective.

He said the solicitor went back to his client in his cell before returning to tell the detectives that he wouldn’t admit anything.

“I’ve told him to say nothing,” said Mr O’Donnell, according to the detective. “I think you’ll have more work to do.”

Mr O’Rourke put it to the detective that he and his colleague had actually offered an inducement by saying that Ms Gunnery would not be detained further after Mr Doyle’s admission.

D Sgt Philips denied this, saying that he hadn’t made any suggestion.

He said she had been arrested for possession of information and that in his experience he knew she would probably be released after a confession as there would be no grounds to detain her further.

He said the solicitor would have known this too and that he and his colleague had rejected his suggestion and made it clear from the start that it was ‘not a runner’.

“You knew you had acted totally improperly that night,” suggested Mr O’Rourke.

The detective denied this.

“You’d offered an inducement,” suggested the barrister.

“I never offered an inducement,” insisted D Sgt Philips.

The trial continues tomorrow morning before Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan.

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