Gardai deny deal with suspect over rugby star killing
THE solicitor of the 26-year-old man on trial for Shane Geoghegan's murder told detectives he would admit to the killing if the mother of his sick child was released from custody.
The conversation emerged during 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 the murder at Clonmore, Dooradoyle, in Limerick.
Detective Sgt Mark Philips of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation spent yesterday being cross-examined by Barry Doyle's barrister, Martin O'Rourke.
Det Sgt Philips testified that the defendant's solicitor had approached himself and his colleague, Det Garda 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," Det Sgt Philips read from an aid memoir the detectives prepared later that night.
He said they told him 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.
Det Sgt Philips said he and his colleague again said this would not be possible and that Barry Doyle would have to admit his involvement in interview. They told him 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 Det 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.
Mr O'Rourke put it to the detective that he and his colleague had actually offered an inducement by saying Ms Gunnery would not be detained further after Mr Doyle's admission.
Det 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 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 Det Sgt Philips.
The trial continues.