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non-jury trial Jim Mansfield 'lured' his employee to meeting with terrorists, court told during closing speech

Mr Justice Alex Owens did not say when a verdict will be announced but put the case in for mention on November 15.

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Jim Mansfield Jnr

Jim Mansfield Jnr

Jim Mansfield Jnr

The State's chief witness against businessman Jim Mansfield Jnr lied in court and may have perjured himself when he said he was not involved with anyone in the IRA, a lawyer has told the Special Criminal Court.

Bernard Condon SC, for the defence, said the evidence of Martin Byrne, who accused Mr Mansfield of setting him up to be taken prisoner by a gang, was unreliable, dishonest and muddled and could not be relied upon.

He said Mr Byrne had told the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) about his relationship with the IRA but when asked about that in court said he was not involved with anyone in the IRA and later said he didn't remember what he had said to CAB.

Mr Condon said there are alternative explanations as to why someone might plan to abduct Mr Byrne and there is no evidence to support the State's case that the purpose was to evict him from a property owned by Mr Mansfield.

Prosecution counsel Shane Costelloe SC said Mr Mansfield "lured" his employee of 20 years, a man who trusted him, to an office in a remote area with no CCTV where he "delivered" him to former terrorist Dessie O'Hare and violent criminal Declan 'Whacker' Duffy.

He said the reason for the abduction was so that Duffy and O'Hare would evict Mr Byrne from his home at The Towers, owned by Mr Mansfield.

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Declan 'Whacker' Duffy

Declan 'Whacker' Duffy

Declan 'Whacker' Duffy

Mr Justice Alex Owens, presiding at the three-judge, non-jury court, did not say when a verdict will be announced but put the case in for mention on November 15.

He told the parties that he will indicate ahead of that date if the court has come to a verdict.

Mr Mansfield Jnr (54), of Tasaggart House, Garters Lane, Saggart, Co Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to conspiring with one or more persons to falsely imprison Martin Byrne on a date unknown between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2015.

He also denies 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 (53) at Finnstown House Hotel, Newcastle Road, Lucan, Co Dublin between June 9, 2015 and June 12, 2015.

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In his closing speech Mr Costelloe said the evidence showed that Mr Byrne agreed to a meeting with Mr Mansfield, his employer of 20 years whom he trusted, and Dessie O'Hare, a former terrorist who has already pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning Mr Byrne.

Mr Byrne had been reluctant to go to the meeting because of a previous interaction with O'Hare and Duffy, but was convinced to go by Mr Mansfield, counsel said.

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Dessie O'Hare Photo: Collins Courts

Dessie O'Hare Photo: Collins Courts

Dessie O'Hare Photo: Collins Courts

The meeting was held at Keating Park, a business premises "owned and controlled" by Mr Mansfield in a remote area where there was no CCTV, Mr Costelloe told the court.

When Mr Byrne arrived with Mr Mansfield, he was "shocked", counsel said, to find Duffy also present.

Mr Costelloe said it would be "ludicrous" to suggest that the meeting was not prearranged by Mr Mansfield.

He said it was not plausible for Mr Mansfield to say he was at Keating Park that afternoon but didn't notice the numerous vehicles there, being used by Duffy, O'Hare and at least five other men who were also involved in the abduction.

He added: "It's utterly implausible for him to say he saw nothing out of the ordinary or untoward."

Mr Costelloe also said there was evidence that Duffy and O'Hare were using a car linked to Mr Mansfield on the day of the abduction.

Inside the office, with Duffy blocking his path out, Mr Byrne told the trial that Mr Mansfield left after Dessie O'Hare said to him: "You're done now, you can leave."

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Dessie O'Hare was part of the seven-man gang

Dessie O'Hare was part of the seven-man gang

Dessie O'Hare was part of the seven-man gang

Mr Costelloe said: "He [Mr Mansfield] knew full well what he was involved in, delivering up Martin Byrne in a safe, controlled location where, if anything happened, there would be no worries about people calling the guards because Jim Mansfield controlled the area."

Mr Byrne told the court he was then brought downstairs by seven men and searched while Mr Mansfield watched from "a few feet away".

Mr Byrne said he told Mr Mansfield: "You set me up" but received no reply.

The abduction ended when gardai arrived at The Towers to find Mr Byrne and his family being held against their will.

Another man had been brutally beaten by the gang. Mr Costelloe asked the court to consider that following the ordeal, Mr Mansfield did not attempt to contact Mr Byrne, a man he had known for 20 years.

Counsel also asked: "Who else would have had an interest in evicting Martin Byrne from The Towers other than Jim Mansfield, who owned The Towers?

"Why are Dessie O'Hare and Declan Duffy driving that car [linked to Mr Mansfield] without anyone making a complaint?

"Why cut off all contact with his former employee?"

Mr Costelloe also pointed to the testimony of Mr Byrne's brother, Patrick Byrne, who said that Mr Mansfield told him to destroy CCTV evidence showing Mr Mansfield leaving Finnstown House with Martin Byrne on the day of the abduction.

Defence counsel Mr Condon said the only evidence the court has to support the assertions made by Mr Costelloe is the testimony of Martin Byrne.

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Accused: Jim Mansfield Jnr

Accused: Jim Mansfield Jnr

Accused: Jim Mansfield Jnr

He added, "Martin Byrne is not a gold-standard witness" whose word could be relied upon to convict a man.

Mr Byrne lied to the court, he said, hid things from the court, and said he didn't remember when pushed during cross examination.

From the outset, Mr Condon said the State's chief witness had shown himself to be unreliable when he said he provided personal security for people of high net worth, celebrities and musicians.

It was, counsel said, "as if he was Madonna's right-hand man." Mr Condon continued: "The reality is that he was working at the City West Hotel where celebrities would turn up for events."

Mr Condon said lying on your CV is not the most serious thing, but the court must consider whether they can rely on the word of someone who is so prone to exaggeration and fabrication.

He pointed out that Mr Byrne told the Criminal Assets Bureau that the IRA asked him to get involved when one branch of the organisation was taking over another.

Mr Condon said the witness may have perjured himself when he told the court: "I'm not involved with anyone in the IRA."

There was also, he said, no evidence that the purpose of the alleged abduction was to evict Mr Byrne from The Towers. There are alternative possibilities relating to Mr Byrne's dealings with various known members of the IRA, he said.

Mr Condon described as "very thin at best" the suggestion that Mr Mansfield's failure to contact Mr Byrne after the abduction was indicative of guilt. "If that is the height of what the prosecution has, it suggests a weakness in their evidence."

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