Businessman Jim Mansfield Jnr has pleaded not guilty to charges of false imprisonment and perversion of justice at the Special Criminal Court.
Mr Mansfield (53), of Tasaggart House, Garters Lane, Saggart, Co Dublin, is charged with conspiring with one or more persons to falsely imprison Martin Byrne on a date unknown between January 1 and June 30, 2015, both dates inclusive.
The non-jury Special Criminal Court heard yesterday morning that Martin Byrne is now in the Witness Protection Programme.
Mr Mansfield is also charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice by directing Patrick Byrne to destroy recorded CCTV footage with the alleged intention of perverting the course of public justice in relation to the false imprisonment of Mr Byrne at Finnstown House Hotel, Newcastle Road, Lucan, Co Dublin, between June 9 and June 12, 2015.
Arraigned on the two char-ges, he pleaded not guilty to both counts.
Defence counsel Bernard Condon said an employee of Mr Mansfield was isolating as a result of a Covid-19 issue.
He said this person, who would ordinarily be in court for the trial, was required by the defence as their knowledge of the issues in the case was very extensive.
He said the person had not been cleared by doctors to break self-isolation and was due a test.
Mr Condon added that Mr Mansfield had been a close contact of this person, and if they tested positive for Covid, his client would then have to self-isolate.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Alexander Owens pointed out that Mr Mansfield was repre- sented by a solicitor and counsel in the case and said the employee was not necessary for his defence.
Mr Condon argued that the employee had been "intimately involved in his business and affairs over many years".
In reply, the judge said this did not give the employee an entitlement to be in the proceedings.
Mr Justice Owens said this individual would not be entitled to be present in court during the trial if they were a defence witness.
Further, Shane Costelloe, on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said very substantive disclosure issues were continually being sought, and part of the contents of a file maintained by the Witness Security Programme had already been disclosed to the defence.
Mr Costelloe asked the court not to hear any substantive matters in relation to the trial yesterday and to put the matter back until Tuesday.
Mr Justice Owens said the court was agreeable to putting the matter back until next week when the situation regarding Mr Mansfield's employee would be known.
Mr Costelloe said there were protected witnesses in the case, and Martin Byrne, who is in the Witness Protection Programme, was the principal witness that would be called.
"Once the disclosure issues are resolved, it is quite a short case," he added.
Mr Justice Owens, sitting with Judge Sinéad Ni Chulachain and Judge James Faughnan, remanded Mr Mansfield on continuing bail to app-ear before the court again on Tuesday morning.
The trial is expected to last three weeks.
The non-jury court vacated Mr Mansfield's trial date last April over Covid concerns.