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Brady had access to laptop in prison, court hears

The Special Criminal Court has been told that Aaron Brady, who murdered Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, was an enhanced prisoner in Mountjoy Prison with unique access to a laptop when he is alleged to have conspired with another inmate to prevent a witness from giving evidence at his trial.

Prison Officer Pat Ferris told the trial of Dean Byrne, Brady’s alleged conspirator, that he knew Brady as a prisoner in 2020.

The witness said that Brady was housed in the D-wing on the basement floor, an area reserved for inmates who enjoy special privileges for good behaviour.

The trial has previously heard that Mr Byrne was on a different floor of the same wing.

Those in the basement, Officer Ferris said, have jobs or attend education courses and more freedom to move around.

They also receive extra phone calls and get extra money for the tuck shop.

Brady, he said, was in a single occupancy cell. He was a volunteer with the Red Cross and in that role would sometimes bring leaflets to the cells on all four landings on D-wing.

Officer Ferris said that he could not recall if Brady carried out a leaflet drop in April or May of 2020.

Deputy Governor of Mountjoy Prison, John Quinn, recalled that during Brady’s trial the court ordered that the jail provide Brady with access to a laptop so he could review his book of evidence.

This was the first time it had happened so the prison developed a protocol whereby Brady could use the computer only when he was locked in his cell on his own. The laptop also did not have access to the internet.

In late March 2020, the prison went into lockdown due to the outbreak of Covid-19. Enhanced prisoner duties were suspended, Mr Quinn said, but Red Cross volunteers would still have been allowed to do leaflet drops because that provided a way to communicate without direct contact.

In August 2020, Brady, 33, formerly of New Road, Crossmaglen in Co Armagh, was convicted by a jury of the murder of Det Gda Adrian Donohoe during a credit union robbery at Lordship, Bellurgan, Co Louth on 25 January 2013.

He was due to be tried with Mr Byrne but before the trial started, Brady pleaded guilty to a charge that on a date between 20 February and 7 May 2020, within the State, he embarked on a course of conduct intended to pervert the course of justice.

He accepted that he was responsible for recording a video of witness Ronan Flynn giving a statement to gardai that later appeared on social media accusing Mr Flynn of “touting”.

Dean Byrne, 30, from Cabra Park, Phibsborough in Dublin, is on trial accused of conspiring with Brady in Mountjoy Prison between 8 April 2020 and 22 June 2020 to persuade prosecution witness Daniel Cahill not to give evidence at Brady’s murder trial, a course of conduct which had a tendency to and which was intended to pervert the course of justice.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

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