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Verdict Jim Mansfield Jr found not guilty of false imprisonment, guilty of perverting course of justice

Mr Mansfield Jr has been remanded in custody until sentencing on February 7

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Jim Mansfield Jnr

Jim Mansfield Jnr

Jim Mansfield Jnr

Businessman Jim Mansfield Jnr has been found not guilty of conspiring to falsely imprison his former security adviser almost seven years ago.

The Special Criminal Court this morning ruled that there was "insufficient evidence" to support the prosecution's contention that he was part of a plot to kidnap Martin Byrne in June 2015.

However, the three judges found Mr Mansfield (54) guilty of a second charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice by directing Mr Byrne's brother to destroy CCTV footage at Finnstown House Hotel the day after the abduction.

The businessmen, of Tassagart House in Saggart, Dublin, had denied both charges and went on trial at the non-jury court.

He has been remanded in custody until sentencing on February 7. 

It was the State's case that he 'effectively delivered' his employee to a seven-man gang who then kidnapped Mr Byrne before beating him and attempting to evict him from his home.

During the trial Martin Byrne said that he went to a meeting with Jim Mansfield Jnr and dissident republican Dessie O'Hare, known as 'The Border Fox', on the morning of June 9, 2015.

However, he said that another paramilitary criminal, Declan "Whacker" Duffy, was also present who then summoned five other men.

Mr Byrne told the non-jury court that Mr Mansfield was informed “your work here is done” by O’Hare before Martin Byrne was bundled into a car, beaten, and taken in convoy to his home at the Towers, a converted stables off Garter Lane in Saggart.

His wife and son were present when the gang brought Martin Byrne to his house while security guard John Roche was also assaulted after coming across the abduction.

The three judges this morning found Jim Mansfield Jnr not guilty of conspiring with one or more persons to falsely imprison Martin Byrne on a date unknown between January 1, 2015, and June 30, 2015, both dates inclusive.

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Mr Justice Alexander Owens, presiding, said there was insufficient evidence to find Mr Mansfield guilty of conspiring to falsely imprison Mr Byrne.

The judge said that it cannot be reasonably excluded that Jim Mansfield Jnr was misled by Dessie O'Hare and Declan Duffy, described as the ringleaders of the kidnap gang, to bring Martin Byrne to the meeting.

Mr Justice Owens said there was clear evidence that the two dissident criminals had a personal animus to Mr Byrne.

The court also said that a failure of the businessman to contact Martin Byrne after the events was not sufficient to support an inference that he knew in advance "what was coming down the line".

Mr Justice Owens said they did accept Martin Byrne's evidence that the New IRA were involved on behalf of Jim Mansfield Jnr to recover a property known as Paddy Reilly's field.

He also said the court accepted that Mr Mansfield was aware that the New IRA and INLA were "involved on his behalf" at the time of the meeting in June 2015.

They found the accused guilty of 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 Martin Byrne at Finnstown House Hotel, Newcastle Road, Lucan, Co Dublin between June 9, 2015, and June 12, 2015.

The footage showed Mr Byrne and Mr Mansfield leaving Finnstown House Hotel in a black Audi A6 on the morning of the abduction.

It also showed O'Hare and Duffy in a vehicle "which corresponded in appearance" with the Audi less than two hours after the false imprisonment.

Patrick Byrne gave evidence that Jim Mansfield Jnr directed him to destroy the footage, but instead later handed this over to gardaí.

The Special Criminal Court said it accepted the evidence of the witness.

Mr Justice Owens said it was clear that Jim Mansfield directed Mr Byrne to destroy evidence to prevent gardaí from getting a hold of important piece of evidence.

After the judgement was read out prosecutor Shane Costelloe SC said he was seeking for Mr Mansfield to be remanded in custody pending a sentencing hearing.

Mr Justice Owens said that Mr Mansfield Jr had been found guilty of a serious offence and remanded him in custody until sentencing on February 7. 

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