Wednesday 23 January 2019

It's a pack of lies to save your own skin, witness told

THE chief prosecution witness in a Dublin murder trial has denied dragging people into the case who had nothing to do with it, while withholding information on those really involved.

Joey O'Brien (26) was being cross-examined at the Central Criminal Court in the trial of four men charged with murdering a father-of-three.

Johnny 'Champagne' Carroll (33) was shot dead while socialising in Grumpy Jack's pub in The Coombe just after 9.30pm on February 18, 2009.

Peter Kenny (28) of McCarthy's Terrace, Rialto; Christopher Zambra (35) of Galtymore Road, Drimnagh; Damien Johnston (27) of Cashel Avenue, Crumlin and Bernard Hempenstall (26) from Park Terrace in The Coombe have pleaded not guilty to murder.


Mr O'Brien claims that his only task was to burn the getaway motorbike afterwards.

The court has heard he was given immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying.

Padraig Dwyer, defending Christopher Zambra, yesterday put it to Mr O'Brien that he had the wherewithal to plan the whole thing himself.

"Anything you say can't be relied on because your memory is either seriously deficient or, more realistically, you're telling a pack of lies to save your own skin, and dragging people into it who have nothing to do with it," suggested Mr Dwyer.

"Why would I lie now?" asked the witness.

"And you're keeping people out of it, people who were involved, who you have information on," said Mr Dwyer.

The barrister pointed to Mr O'Brien's phone records from the night of the murder, which showed a number of calls with a man not on trial.

"It was probably something to do with drugs," said Mr O'Brien, a former drug dealer.

Mr Dwyer read out a number of entries from Mr O'Brien's garda record.

Mr O'Brien denied threatening a security guard who had helped gardai arrest him and denied threatening to shoot door staff at a pub.

He initially denied threatening to shoot and stab security staff at another pub, but then said it might have happened.

Mr Dwyer asked him why he had a dictaphone in his hand when gardai stopped a car in which he was travelling, which a hammer was also found in.

"Would you have been going off to torture someone, to extract some information?" asked Mr Dwyer.

Mr O'Brien said he did not know why he had a dictaphone.

"I suggest to you that you had the wherewithal to organise everything to do with this crime, you and other people not in court," said Mr Dwyer.

"No way," said the witness.

Mr O'Brien agreed that if he had not been granted immunity, he would be convicted of murder on his own statements.

He agreed that he'd involved himself in the murder for €8,500 but didn't agree that this showed how ruthless and callous he was.

"Well that's rather a low value to put on someone's life," suggested Mr Dwyer.

"Yeah," he agreed.

"Two hours in the bookie's for you," continued the barrister.

"Not always," said Mr O'Brien.


Mr Dwyer also pointed to records, which showed Mr O'Brien using his phone in Dublin 8 when he said he was meeting his client about the murder in Temple Bar. He told Mr O'Brien that there was no CCTV footage of him in the area where he said the meeting was.

Finally, Mr Dwyer asked him why, during his days in the witness box, he had never looked the jury in the eyes.

"I have," he said, adding: "I don't have to look anybody in the eye if I don't want to."

"I suggest the reason is you're telling lies, and people telling lies find it difficult to look people in the eye," said Mr Dwyer.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Barry White and a jury of eight men and four women.


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