A murder trial witness has said she recognised a car that was traveling “in an awful hurry” on the night a garda was shot dead during a credit union robbery.
Frances Malone was giving evidence in the trial of Aaron Brady who denies the capital murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe.
She told Lorcan Staines SC for the prosecution that she was driving home with her husband some time after 9pm on January 25, 2013 when she saw two cars coming towards her “very very fast” near the Ballymascanlon roundabout, a short distance from Lordship Credit Union where Det Gda Donohoe was shot dead.
Both cars had their headlights on and although she flashed her lights to tell them to dip they kept shining their full beams. “They were blinding me,” she said and she was therefore unable to identify the make or model of either car or their licence plates.
About five minutes later she met another car coming towards her going “very, very hard”. She recognised this car as belonging to a man she knows who is aged in his 60s. She knew the car because the man’s name was on the personalized number plate and she had seen it “a good many times” before.
She remembered saying to her husband that the owner, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was “in an awful hurry”. When she later saw on television that there had been a shooting she wondered if the cars she had seen with their headlights on had anything to do with it.
Aaron Brady (28) from New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh has pleaded not guilty to the capital murder of Det Gda Donohoe (41) who was then a member of An Garda Siochana on active duty on January 25, 2013 at Lordship Credit Union, Bellurgan, Co Louth.
Mr Brady has also pleaded not guilty to a charge of robbing approximately €7,000 in cash and assorted cheques on the same date and at the same location.
Mervyn McBride told Mr Staines that he was driving south on the Cortamlat Road in Armagh when he saw a dark-coloured Volkswagen coming towards him fast. About 150 metres after that he saw another car traveling in the same direction also at speed.
The witness agreed with defence counsel Justin McQuade that in a statement to gardai he said the Volkswagen appeared to have an English registration plate.
Farmer Alan McBride was in a shed on the Chaleybeate Road in Armagh between 21.30 and 22.00 on the same date when he saw a black BMW 5-series going towards a spot where a burned out car was later found. The BMW was going “very fast”, he said, maybe 60miles per hour (96km/h). Fifteen to twenty minutes later he heard the same car coming back heading in the direction it had come from.
The jury also heard from a number of officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland who searched the area near the Cumsons Road, off the Chaleybeate Road, where a burned out Volkswagen Passat was found.
The trial continues in front of Justice Michael White and a jury of eight men and seven women.