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Jury hears closing speeches in tiger kidnapping trial

CourtsBy Sunday World
Jonathan Gill
Jonathan Gill

The evidence against an alleged tiger kidnapper is almost entirely circumstantial but taken together conclusively proves the guilt of the accused, a jury has been told.

Jonathan Gill (35) is accused of a kidnapping a Drogheda postal worker, his partner and their 10-week-old baby daughter before robbing €660,000 from the man's workplace.

It is the State's case that Mr Gill was one of a group of five who were involved in holding the family hostage in their own home before moving them to a shed about a 90-minute drive away.

Mr Gill of Malahide Road, Swords, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to falsely imprisoning Warren Nawn, Jean Marie Nawn and their ten-week-old baby in Drogheda between August 1 and August 2, 2011.

Evidence has now concluded in the case. The jury has heard there is no evidence placing Mr Gill at the crime scenes nor any forensic evidence directly linking him to the offence.

The prosecution is instead attempting to link Mr Gill to the kidnapping by showing his association with two other men who are forensically linked to the crime as well as showing a car linked to Mr Gill was in the area of the kidnapping on the day in question.

The State has also presented evidence that Mr Gill was picked up on CCTV buying milk at 24 hour garage in Balbriggan at 5.30am while the kidnapping was in progress.

Ms Nawn had told the jury she was given a litre of milk during the night by the raiders to feed her crying 10 week old baby. A milk carton of the same brand was found in a partially burnt out car the next day after the family was released.

During his closing speech, prosecuting counsel Vincent Heneghan SC, said that several threads of evidence against Mr Gill mean nothing individually but “when you pull the threads together and intertwined they form a rope.”

Counsel said it was a circumstantial case but that circumstantial evidence can be just as compelling as DNA or fingerprint evidence.

Mr Heneghan pointed to a Renault Clio which he said was under the control or command of Mr Gill. He said this Clio was spotted at 6pm on the day of the kidnapping by a garda automatic number plate recognition system on a Drogheda road.

A few seconds later another car linked to another suspected tiger kidnapper was spotted by the same system. Counsel said they were travelling together.

Counsel also referenced evidence from the garda National Surveillance Unit that Mr Gill was seen driving the Clio at 9pm on the day of the kidnapping in Swords. Two other cars linked to the kidnapping were seen nearby.

Mr Heneghan said one of the other kidnappers, who he named as Anton Singleton, was seen driving out of a farmyard area in the months before the kidnapping. Counsel said this farm was used to hold the Nawns overnight during their ordeal.

In his closing speech counsel for Mr Gill, Sean Guerin SC, told the jury “you can’t make a rope with flimsy threads.”

He said the prosecution admitted it couldn't prove what role Mr Gill played in the offence. He said there was no evidence whatsoever referring to Mr Gill between the start of the kidnapping at 10.30pm and the buying of the milk at 5.15am.

Referring to the observations of Mr Gill in the company of Mr Singleton, Counsel said there was no such thing as guilt by association.

“You are not your brother's keeper or indeed your friend’s keeper,” Mr Guerin said.

He also pointed to the intensive garda surveillance operation of Mr Singleton in the days leading up to the offence and said that during this time Mr Gill was not spotted with Mr Singleton.

The jury of seven men and five women will be addressed by Judge Elma Sheahan tomorrow before beginning deliberations.