'confused' | 

Credit union robbery suspect granted free legal aid one week after offering £1m in bail sureties

James Flynn (31) is charged with the robbery during which Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was murdered

Pictured: James Flynn

Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe (Garda/PA)

Aaron Brady

Sunday World

A man who offered over £1 million in bail sureties before he was extradited from the UK charged with the robbery during which Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was murdered, has been granted legal aid after the Special Criminal Court heard he now has "absolutely nothing".

Ruling today on whether James Flynn should be granted legal aid, presiding judge Ms Justice Tara Burns said "a very odd position" had been adopted by the applicant as the court had previously heard that he had a significant business in the US and was a man who worked.

"Instead we are now met with a document [a statement of means] which appears to reflect that the applicant has no assets," she added.

The judge said the non-jury court was "somewhat confused" by the defence application as it was referenced in the course of Mr Flynn's bail hearing last week that "very significant sums of money" were available to him before Westminster Magistrates' Court ordered his extradition back to Ireland earlier this year.

"It is now documented that he has absolutely nothing," she added.

The three-judge court heard last week that when applying for bail in the UK, Mr Flynn had offered the substantial sums of £185,000 in cash and a £965,000 independent surety.

In April of this year, Westminster Magistrates’ Court ordered Mr Flynn's extradition back to Ireland but this was appealed to the High Court. The appeal was dismissed in July and Mr Flynn was brought back to Ireland to be formally charged with the credit union robbery.

Mr Flynn (31), of Raven's Glen, Newry, Northern Ireland is accused of the robbery of €7K, the property of Pat Bellew, at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Co Louth, on January 25, 2013.

Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe (Garda/PA)

He is also accused of conspiring with Aaron Brady, Brendan Treanor and others of entering a residential premises with the intent to steal the keys of a motor vehicle between September 11, 2012, and January 23, 2013. Brady was convicted of murdering Det Gda Donohoe in August 2020.

Referring to a statement of means which was handed into the court today, Ms Justice Burns commented that the information provided in the document was "very sparse".

The judge said the court had stopped defence counsel for Mr Flynn last week from attempting to offer an explanation for the sums of money offered to Westminster Magistrates' Court.

"That said we did hear during the course of the bail hearing that the applicant is residing with his wife and children yet there is a reference in the document that he is not supporting any of his children," she continued.

Ms Justice Burns said the court would grant Mr Flynn legal aid in light of the State's position "albeit with the court's concerns set out".

Earlier, prosecuting counsel Brendan Grehan SC said the State had "no comment as such" to make on the legal aid application filed. He said it was a matter for the court and that the State was not raising any objection.

In summary, Ms Justice Burns said she had spoken to trial judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt and stressed that the trial would be proceeding in January. "[With] All due haste," she added.

Last Friday, Mr Flynn was refused bail by the non-jury court on the grounds that he is a flight risk. Ms Justice Burns said the three-judge court could not accept that the applicant was "anything but a flight risk" and that the probability of fleeing the jurisdiction was "well made out".

Ms Justice Burns also said in her ruling that the three-judge court had heard "very concerning evidence" about an interaction the applicant's father had with the investigating guard in relation to this matter.

The court heard evidence that Mr Flynn's father had indicated that an interview could take place with his son in the US and gardai travelled to Boston clearly of the view that the interview would take place, she said. However, when gardai went to the address they were instead met with a situation where the accused was no longer at the premises and his father uttered the words "the boys are gone, you will never get them", the court heard.

Aaron Brady

Summarising his objection to the court on the flight risk ground last week, Detective Inspector Mark Phillips said the applicant had offered "substantial sums of money" when he applied for bail at Westminster Magistrates Court, namely £185,000 in cash and a £965,000 independent surety. "I believe this clearly demonstrates that he has the financial means available to him to evade justice," he said.

Referring to the sums of money that had been offered to Westminster Magistrates Court, Mr John Temple, defending, said that this was offered by Mr Flynn's family members and not the applicant himself.

Brendan Treanor (34), with a previous address at Emer Terrace, Castletown Road, Dundalk, Co Louth, is also charged with participating in the robbery. His trial will commence in January next year alongside Mr Flynn's. He was also refused bail in June 2022.

Aaron Brady (31) was found guilty of the murder of Det Gda Donohoe by an 11 to one majority jury verdict at the Central Criminal Court in August 2020. The father-of-one with a last address at New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, was sentenced to the mandatory term for murder of life imprisonment.

As he had been found guilty of murdering a Garda acting in accordance with his duty, he will serve a minimum of 40 years. Brady was also sentenced to 14 years for the credit union robbery - a sentence that will run concurrently with the life sentence. Brady’s trial was the longest murder case in Irish legal history, lasting 122 court days.

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