Garda killer Aaron Brady fails to overturn conviction

Aaron Brady in shirt and grey jumper
-Credit: (Image: Collins)

A Co Armagh man has failed in a bid to overturn his conviction for the capital murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe and will remain in prison serving his minimum 40-year life sentence.

Almost four years since he was found guilty by a majority jury verdict, the Court of Appeal on Thursday rejected the near 50 grounds of appeal argued by Aaron Brady's lawyers over a seven-day hearing last October, in what the three-judge panel said was "one of the longest ever" cases before it.

Mr Justice John Edwards this morning delivered a summary of the 363-page judgement of the three-judge court.

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The three judges dismissed all grounds of appeal including a complaint by Brady's lawyers that the integrity of his trial was "well and truly breached" when key witness Molly Staunton, who gave testimony via video link from New York during the Covid-19 crisis, was interrupted by an unseen man, who told her to "stop it right now", before the video link was "dramatically" cut. They told the three-judge court that the incident was grounds for a retrial.

Rejecting this ground today, Mr Justice Edwards said "the interruptions" that occurred did not represent "a real and substantial risk of an unfair trial which could not be avoided by directions of the trial judge, who carefully and properly addressed the jury on the issue of who had responsibility for the interruptions, acknowledged the absence of supervision and referred to the interruptions as being from the witness's boyfriend".

Ms Staunton told the murder trial that Brady said he had to "carry around the guilt of having murdered a cop in Ireland". Ms Staunton said in her direct evidence that Brady also claimed during a drunken "rant" to be "the most feared man in Ireland".

Brady, who is now 33-years-old, was led into court by prison officers for today's judgement. Wearing a navy suit and pink tie, Brady did not react when Mr Justice Edwards confirmed that the jury's verdict would not be overturned. Brady, previously of New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, is serving a life sentence with a 40-year minimum having been found guilty of murdering Det Gda Donohoe, 41, at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgen, Co Louth on January 25, 2013.

Brady was also sentenced to 14 years for the robbery, a sentence that will run concurrently with the life sentence. Det Gda Donohoe was on a cash escort when he was ambushed by a five-man gang and shot dead. The raiders stole just €7,000 in cash during the robbery, which lasted 58 seconds. Brady's trial was also the longest murder case in Irish legal history, lasting 122 court days. The father-of-one was found guilty of the murder of Det Gda Donohoe by an 11 to one majority jury verdict at the Central Criminal Court on August 12, 2020 and sentenced to the mandatory term for murder of life imprisonment in October 2020 after an eight-month trial.

As he had been found guilty of murdering a garda acting in accordance with his duty, the trial judge ordered that he serve a minimum of 40 years.

Mr Justice Edwards told the court on Thursday morning that Brady's hearing had been the longest the three-judge court had conducted in its ten year history. "The number of issues in this case was greater than in any other case so far," he outlined, adding that this was the reason for the "very substantial" length of the judgment.

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